Filtering by Tag: revision

IWSG: Don't Stop Believing

The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writers Support Group Be sure to stop by and lend your support to the other writers participating!

I decided to go back to Book #1 for yet another rewrite. I am plagued with the idea that maybe I'm wasting my time.

I finished a book I love a couple months ago. I wrote it with such ease and I love the finished product. It needs some work, of course, but overall, I feel like it was a huge victory for me. It was the first NEW book I wrote in years, and it felt liberating and amazing.

Why, then, would I go back to the book I've been writing for upwards of 8 years, on and off? The book that has caused me so much stress and anger and frustration and pain? The book that has seen at least 10 different rewrites and is STILL not all it could be?

It's a waste of time, right?

But the thing is...I can't give up on it. With my newest book, I learned things about myself. I learned to be a better writer, a more confident writer. I believe I can finally give the characters in that first book the story they deserve. And, in the words of the incomparable Journey, "Don't Stop Believing."

So, back to the drawing board, I go.

Will this be the time that I finally get it right?

What about you? Have you ever worked on the same project for years and years? How did it turn out? Do you ever feel like you should just give it up?



School's Out!

I am a bad, bad blogger. Bad! I can't even remember the last time I posted, THAT'S how bad I am!

But today is officially the last day of this wretched semester, so I should be popping in more regularly. At least that's the plan.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this song:


On the writing front, I'm printing off a few chapters from my first draft today to work on between classes today. I AM SO EXCITED!

Ahem.

It's been a while, what can I say?

Rainy Day

It's a rainy, gloomy day here today. The sound of the rain hitting the roof is soothing and has me longing to crawl into bed and stay there. Sadly, I have to work today. There will be no lying in bed, listening to the rain. Not this morning.

I do, on the other hand, have an hour before I leave. Now, a logical, driven person would use this hour to get something accomplished. Maybe pull out Chapter Three and forge through the messy revisions. Because once Chapter Three is done, I can move on and, I suspect, the rest of the book should be a breeze. Well, maybe not a breeze. But far easier than the first few chapters. Odds are, though, that I'll find a million and one things to do before even looking at my book. And by the time I pull out a pen and notebook, or pull up Word, it'll be ten minutes before I'm set to leave for work. That's just how I work. At least these days, anyway.

In addition to the soothing soundtrack of the rain, I've got the new cd by Sara Bareilles playing. At the moment, this is my favorite:



I love Sara's voice. And, boy, does she have a way with words. Nothing feeds my muse better than good music. It's almost like enjoying the most amazing meal you've ever had -- without the calories.

While I'm in a sharing mood, Dana (who I've mentioned here before) has started her own blog. As a disclaimer, I feel I should mention that what she writes is intense and somewhat graphic. It's sort of a stream-of-conscious, letting-it-all-out kind of writing, an intimate look at a very difficult subject. If you're okay with that kind of thing, hop on over and take a peek -- Broken Illusions

Alright. I've squandered a little too much time on the interwebs for the day. Off I go. Let's hope I get something accomplished!

Beautiful Mess

My head aches, my eyes burn and my brain wants to take a vacation. My writing hand rebels against picking up a pen to scribble notes across my manuscript. I'm sure that's for the best. As it is, I can barely make out the words I wrote two days ago. Chapter Three is full of edits I have yet to input in the computer, mostly because just looking at these pages gives me a migraine:



I've got three different colors of highlighters throughout my manuscript. I've got post-its galore stuck all over. It's reaching the point where I don't even know what I mean with all these notes and arrows and highlighted sections. It's enough to make a girl go gray. Oh, wait. I've already got grays.

But, in spite of all this stress and madness, I have rediscovered a love for dollar stores. I found all this:


at a dollar store. They're extra-big post-its that I can fit lots of words on. So long, cramped, illegible writing! I'm sure I've mentioned my love of office supplies before. Post-its are like my crack. I love them. Almost as much as I love a new pen (got one of those, too by the way). These things help to make my revision process a lot easier.

I'm getting excited about this round of revisions. Even though I'm so stressed most of the time I can't see straight, I'm making progress. I've been tearing down and rebuilding the first four chapters for the last two weeks and I'm finally getting somewhere. And I'm thrilled. It's a crazy love-hate relationship, this writing gig. But I'm still madly in love. And I'm taking advantage of every single second of it.

In Love

So here's the scene. A crowded dining room at a not-so-local McDonald's, my table littered with loose-leaf pages of my third draft, my laptop sitting on a stack of papers and a half full cup of sweet tea to my left. Outside, the sun is shining so bright I have to squint anytime I look out the window. There's a highway right in front of the restaurant. It's one of those food/gas combos and people have been non-stop bustling in and out ever since I arrived over an hour ago. Dana and her mom dropped me here and left for a work-related picnic and I have been (kinda) hard at work ever since. I keep drifting off into a daydream involving me, that sunshine and the beach. I want it so bad I can almost feel the sand between my toes. Alas, here I sit.

I shouldn't really be complaining. I have been flooded with ideas and questions and suggestions for the first couple chapters of my novel, thanks to a couple lovely ladies who volunteered to beta read for me, as well as Dana. I have been elbow-deep in reworking the first scene in Chapter One and the last scene in Chapter Two. My pages are covered in blue and purple ink pen and my notebook is filled with chicken scratch ideas. This is the part of revision that I love. The exhilarating, creative, scribbling all over anything resembling paper, revision. The part where your mind is racing a million miles a second with ideas and dialogue and changes to make. I'm sure once I get to anything past Chapter Five, I'll hate the entire process again, but as of right now, I am in love.

In fact, I'm gonna get back to my new love right now and try to banish visions of sandy beaches and blue waters out of my head. Wish me luck!




Flawed

Okay, has anyone else ever found that the revision process seems never-ending? You think you're done but then you pick your manuscript up a week, two weeks, a month later and find all these flaws. These glaringly obvious flaws. So you take your pen and go to town, feeling like you've made miles of progress. Excited, you type all your changes into the computer and then read it again. More flaws.

More glaringly, blindingly, hideous flaws.

How do we keep missing them?

This is where I'm at. I've made progress. I'll happily give myself that. But each time I start from the beginning, I find something else I need to change. In my third round of revisions, I switched chapters 2 and 3 around. Of all the rearranging I did with my first rewrite, how did I miss that it works better this way? It's no wonder I found another gray hair this morning.

I do feel like I'm getting closer to done, though. I'm excited to find some beta readers and get some honest to goodness opinions from fellow writers. My mom, fiancee and best friend have read the early (scary, awful, crappy) drafts and Dana had some really helpful input. Mom, of course, loved it. And my best friend is almost finished and says she's got a printed copy marked up with suggestions. I've learned that the way people read things is completely different. I've got super-critical Dana, my mom who loves everything and my best friend who isn't afraid to tell me what's not working, but is still super proud of me for having written a book. I'm hoping once I get it in the hands of another writer (or two, or three...), I'll find yet another reader's perspective. I want this thing as polished as possible before I send it out into the world.

So, if anyone's interested in beta reading for me, I'm writing a contemporary romance/women's fiction novel about a 30-year-old pregnant woman. I'm hoping to be *done* by the end of the summer.

I should get back to work. I'll leave you with this song. It seems rather fitting for the whole revision process. Plus, I just adore this girl.

Flawed





Busy Bee



Today, I'm on a high. I was a real busy buy in the hours between 10am and 5pm. I went down to Secretary of State and got my permit (again). The goal is to have my license by the end of the summer. I just turned 27, for God's sake! I should have my license! After that, I was walking past a store. They had a Now Hiring sign in their window, and I decided to apply. I've been meaning to find a 2nd job anyway. Well, when I turned in the application, I got an interview right then. I have a follow-up in the morning. Hopefully, I'll get it! I wandered around the mall for a while afterward, then stopped in at Barnes and Noble. There, I finished up Chapter 9 and got about half through Chapter 10. When my laptop's battery died, I left the book store, planning on going to a coffee shop down the street, where I could plug in. As I walked down the sidewalk, a library sign caught my eye.

I've always wondered where this mysterious library was, but I never actually LOOKED for it. Well, today I did. And I found it. I spent the next three hours alternately browsing the shelves and working on my own novel. I checked out three books (April & Oliver, 20 Times a Lady, and What I Did for Love). I know -- I haven't even made it through my To Read list for this year. But I couldn't resist. I haven't been to a library since I moved to Lansing over 2 years ago. It was like trick or treating!

I also finished Chapter 10's revisions and got about half through 11. I'm making pretty quick progress. I mean, my deadline is Wednesday before midnight and I still have about 6 chapters to go. But at this point, it's really just putting the pieces where they go and cleaning up the writing. By this time Thursday, I should have a cohesive, semi-readable third draft! And, frankly, I can't wait.

PS. In case anyone was wondering, the lie in the Awardy Goodness post was number 6. I DO like purses quite a bit, but I only have about 15 or so, and they definitely don't have names!

My Dysfuctional Relationship

You know, I've had my share of dysfunctional relationships. Friendships that consisted of me doing all the calling and remembering birthdays and everything that a friendship involves. One-sided crushes. Hell, even my relationship with my parents is dysfunctional, putting me in the parent role most of the time. And every now and then, I wonder whether or not Dana and I are functioning at a normal rate. But none of those compares to the unhealthy, completely dysfunctional and at times unbearable relationship I have with writing.



Some days, I wake up and my fingers itch to scribble in my journal or tap dance across the keys of my laptop. And when the words are flowing...there is no feeling like it. The exhilaration, the adrenaline. It can only be compared to rush of sitting in a roller coaster going downhill at a hundred miles per hour.

Other days, well, they're a different story.

I've been having "other" days for quite some time. These are the days that writing feels like a burden . Even the thought of picking up a pen or opening my WiP fills me with dread.

Today is one of those days. It started off well enough. I got a little written yesterday and I was excited to add to it. But then, once I started to write, a scene popped up. Out of nowhere. It's not in my outline. I'm not even sure there's a need for it. But there it is. Right smack at the beginning of Chapter 13. GRR!

To top things off, it turns out I was writing about something that happens in Chapter 13 way back in Chapter 11. WHAT is going on?

When I get around to revising this, I'm going to need a pair of scissors and about thirty glue sticks. Cutting and pasting in the literal sense. It's abso-freaking-lutely insane.

Sometimes I think maybe I'd be better off without this particular brand of dysfunction.

But then again, maybe not.

And so I write.

Ew, Friday!

Friday. I would say thank God it's Friday, but I work today, and Fridays are frightening in my line of work, sooo...wish me luck!

The sun has finally decided to grace us with its presence. I am thrilled that the rain stopped, even though it's still chilly out there. Spring is definitely a bi-polar season.

I switched up the ticker at the top of my page. I changed the goal to 80,000 words and, as you can see, I'm really close. I don't think I'll be finished with this story in less than a thousand more words -- probably not for another 10k, at least. I was lamenting on this subject last night at writing group. I have just printed off my entire manuscript and it's sitting heavily on my desk, daunting at 321 pages. 321 pages! How did that happen? My main character still has three months of pregnancy left! Not to mention the wrapping it all up scenes at the end of the book! I nearly hyperventilated. But when I mentioned this at group last night, everyone was in agreement that it's better to have too much than not enough. And, boy, do I have too much!

I have to admit, I'm getting excited about the revision stage. I can't wait to get my hands dirty, so to speak. I've got my red pens ready, the chapters all separated (how did I manage to have TWO completely different chapter 5's?) and my editor's brain has already spotted a few typos. BUT! I'm not going to touch it until I've typed The End.

So, how do you guys go about the revision process? Do you wait until you've finished the entire project? Or do you dive right in after the first chapter is written, polish it till it shines, then go back and write another? I've tried it both ways, and I always end up getting caught up and making my first few chapters perdy that I don't get around to finishing it. What works best for you?

Hope everyone has a great Friday! I'm off to write a few hundred words before work!

Edited to thank Officegirl for this adorable award! I'll pass it on in my next entry!

To Change, or Not to Change...

I changed the layout of my blog. I felt I needed something more...spring-like. Let me know if anything is hard to read!

Anyway, the point of this post: I've been considering changing the point of view of my novel. Right now, it's in third person. I always write in third person. It's my comfort zone. It's what I do best.

But...I'm starting to think that this novel would work better in first person. I'd love any thoughts I could get on this subject. And, to maybe help generate some educated opinions, here's a tiny excerpt, written both ways:


Third:
“What do you mean, you're being inseminated?” Fern Alandale, Maribel's best friend since grade school, looked at her like she'd suddenly spouted a third eye right smack in the middle of her forehead.

“Just what I said. I'm being inseminated. I already called and made the appointment.” Mari tore off a piece of bread from the loaf in the center of the table and popped it into her mouth. It was the next day, and Mari was sitting across from Fern in their favorite restaurant, Daisy's Diner. Mari just told Fern about her break-up with Tom, and the idea that struck her late last night.

“But...why?” Fern's mossy eyes narrowed and she tucked a strand of short, dark hair behind her ear. Mari took in her friend's expression and smiled. Fern had never been able to hide any emotions racing through her. Her full, fair face revealed everything, whether she flushed of embarrassment or paled from fear. Or, like now, narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips in confusion. Fern was an open book. Which was one of the things Mari always loved about her.

Swallowing her bite, Maribel explained. “Remember the list?”

“The list? Oh, gosh, really? This is about the list?” Eyes widened, Fern showed her disbelief.

With a laugh, Mari continued. “No, I was just starting at the beginning. I pulled the list out last night and was reading it. And it occurred to me - I have lived too long by a plan. An arbitrary list of things to do with my life. And, sure, some of them worked out, but do I really want to spend forever planning and listing, when I could be spontaneous and do what I want when I want.” She took another bite and continued, mouth full. “And what I want is a baby.”





First
“What do you mean, you're being inseminated?” Fern Alandale, my best friend since grade school, looked at me like I'd suddenly spouted a third eye right smack in the middle of my forehead.

“Just what I said. I'm being inseminated. I already called and made the appointment.” I tore off a piece of bread from the loaf in the center of the table and popped it into my mouth. It was the next day, and I was sitting across from Fern in our favorite restaurant, Daisy's Diner. I had just finished telling Fern about my break-up with Tom, and the idea that struck me late last night.

“But...why?” Fern's mossy eyes narrowed and she tucked a strand of short, dark hair behind her ear. I took in my friend's expression and smiled. Fern had never been able to hide any emotions racing through her. Her full, fair face revealed everything, whether she flushed of embarrassment or paled from fear. Or, like now, narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips in confusion. Fern was an open book. Which was one of the things I had always loved about her.

Swallowing my bite, I explained. “Remember the list?”

“The list? Oh, gosh, really? This is about the list?” Eyes widened, Fern showed her disbelief.

With a laugh, I continued. “No, I was just starting at the beginning. I pulled the list out last night and was reading it. And it occurred to me - I have lived too long by a plan. An arbitrary list of things to do with my life. And, sure, some of them worked out, but do I really want to spend forever planning and listing, when I could be spontaneous and do what I want when I want.” I took another bite and continued, mouth full. “And what I want is a baby.”




Now, I'm aware it's not that great. This is straight out of my first draft, only the I's and she's changed. I'm really getting excited about editing this thing. Some of it is not as awful as I'd feared. I am worried, though, that if I decide to change my POV, I'll get overwhelmed with all the changes and run away screaming. Which is why I'm here, asking for the help of all you lovely ladies (and gentlemen?) out there who write and struggle with the same things.

Any opinions would be much appreciated!

Split Personalities

Three things occurred to me when I woke up this morning. The first being that it's Saturday, the second that I have the day off and the third that it's sun-shiny gorgeous outside. This should automatically imply that I'll be doing something involving soaking up the rays. I might go bike shopping, since I've wanted a bike for a while now and I have a little extra cash with which to purchase one. Other than that, I have no plans. Zip, zilch, zero.

Which means I should either be writing or reading. I started Water For Elephants two weeks ago and just made it to the third chapter. Not for any other reason that I haven't found the time. I've been trying to write as much as possible. It's almost certain that I won't make my 30k goal by the end of the month. That is, after all, about 15k in three days. I've taken the pressure off myself though. I've been getting about a thousand words written pretty regularly each day, almost two thousand on Thursday. I'm trucking along. My story is making progress, though not as quickly as I'd like. But I'll reach the end...eventually.

I've got split personalities when it comes to editing this massive piece of word vomit. Part of me is like a child on Christmas morning -- jumping up and down with excitement to get my hands on that red (yes, I actually edit in red) pen. The other part of me is dragging her feet, afraid of the mess that I'm going to find. It's going to take forever to fix the plot holes and weak characters and awkward dialogue and flat writing that is this novel. And I've never done a full, all the way through, edit. I'm usually the kind of person who writes a couple chapters, then goes back and rewrites what doesn't work. The downfall to this method is that I get so caught up in making these chapters bright and shiny that I don't write any further. I did this with two other novels I started -- one of which is three years in progress. With this one, I want to finish it, to get to the end, then go back and make it pretty. And it's going to take a lot to make this one pretty.

I'm scared.

Anyway, it's now early afternoon and I'm still in my PJs, so I'm gonna get my day started. Hope everyone has a super Saturday!

Bad, Bad Writing

So I've been a writing machine the past couple days, as you can see from the above ticker. The number of words to go keeps getting smaller, and I'm getting psyched.

But here's the problem: I'm 99.9999999% sure my book will not be finished, even when I hit my word goal. Turns out, I'm writing a behemoth of a novel. I'm nearing 70k, as a whole, and my main character is still only 5 months pregnant. Revision should be...interesting. I'm going to need a hacksaw, a needle and some thread when I finish this thing. Major reconstructive surgery will be necessary.

I'm getting discouraged as I write, though. More and more sure that I suck as a writer. I mean, this first draft is the worst first draft I've ever written. The beginnings of my sentences keep throwing me off, yanking me out of the zone. I seem to have lost the ability to start a sentence with anything but my characters' names, -ing words (i.e, "Fumbling for words, she stared at him) or the, he or she. It's driving me insane. The clickety-clack of the keys seems to be chanting "You suck, you suck, you suck," as I type.

I'm forging on, though. Bad writing is better than no writing. Even if it's going to take twenty years to rewrite!

Writing Resolutions

I purchased a cheap planner from Target last week while I was out finishing Christmas shopping, and I plan to use it to track my writing progress. On the first page, I made a list of my writing goals for 2010. They include:

1. Write at least 500 words a day. (Much more feasible than the 1667 that I did this past November)
2. Finish NaNo '09 project. (My poor pregnant MC needs to have that baby!)
3. Revise NaNo '09 project. (It needs to NOT suck when I get my CreateSpace copy!)
4. Finish the Tierney/Jack story. (This is the one I've been working on for years. This is the year I finish it. I swear it!)
5. Revise said story. (For peace of mind, if nothing else, this project needs to be done.)
6. Plan NaNo '10 project. (No last-minute scribbles of plot points on scraps of paper again!)
7. Do at least one "mini-NaNo" before November. (Maybe use it to finish one of the above.)
8. Go to writing groups regularly. (They help make me a more productive writer.)
9. Read more books. (Yes, books. Not just magazines or blogs. But real, actual BOOKS!!)
10. Write in journal or blog daily.

There, 10 goals for 2010. I am determined. I am serious. I am 100% dedicated to getting back into the swing of things. I am a writer.

I.

Am.

A.

Writer.

And I will write, damn it!
6.