Sunday, May 29, 2011

I feel sneaky

 I'm not, though.  In reality, I suck at being sneaky.  But I feel sneaky, which surely counts for something.

Down there on the left, almost to the bottom, is a little bit o' text titled Novel Progress. It's there more for me to keep myself accountable than anything else, but feel free to e-mail me a bitch slap if it goes unchanged for more than about a week (I don't see much point in updating it every single day).  Yesterday it was at 25.  Today?  Ninety-seven.

No, I didn't write 72 pages overnight.  And that's where my sneaky feeling comes in.  Huge progress, zero effort!  It's the novel-writing equivalent of a fad diet.

And about as true-to-life.  See, those 72 pages that magically appeared are 72 pages I wrote back in 2009 before stupidly abandoning the novel because I felt like it wasn't going anywhere.

Ever look back at some work you've done and think "Huh, that wasn't that bad after all"?  That's about where I am with this.  It's not great, but the one thing my Creative Writing class taught me way back when was to embrace shitty first drafts.  Just get the whole damned thing out there, get it written so you know where it goes, and then revise the living fuck out of it.

I lost the first part of the novel, so I had to backtrack and redo that.  I'm making some changes.  I have a separate notebook to track those changes.  It's a handy tip I learned from Book in a Month: The Fool-Proof System for Writing a Novel in 30 DaysWrite as if. It's a trick for maintaining forward motion.  Simply put, no matter how big the change is you feel the need to make, you make the change in the manuscript as soon as you feel the need for it, make a note of the page number, and from then on out write as if it's been that way all along.  The pages you already have can be fixed later on, in the revision stage.

It's an amazing idea, which I imagine most actual authors already use, but I had just never thought of it.  There are a few big changes I am going to shortly be jotting down in the spiral notebook I keep for just that purpose.  That one little idea just saved a whole bunch of work.  It is seriously going to be one of the major facets of my writing process from here on out, even more influential than the idea of plotting novels using index cards.  Both of these things make intuitive sense to me.  Creating a plot outline keeps me from wandering off the reservation as it were, and writing as if keeps me from scrapping everything in a fit of adolescent pique.  Maybe I will actually finish something now!

Oh, by the way, I started a new blog to keep track of my daughters' creations: Stories My Daughters Tell.  Truth is, I hate the tens of thousands of little pieces of paper their creativity generates.  But of course I want to be careful to not limit them, and I really do get a kick out of their stories.  So this blog is my compromise with myself.  They can write and draw stories (and, in Bobbie's case, comics), and I will upload them to that blog.  Right now this involves pictures-of-pictures, and in a couple of cases my own attempt to recreate their drawings on the computer (in MS Paint, naturally), but I'll get Erik's all-in-one hooked up soon and start scanning instead.  This way I don't have to keep the endless bits of paper, but I can preserve what they've done.

In another act of crazy parenting, I signed my youngest daughter up for Twitter a while ago; she's @MarieFluffybutt.  I find Twitter to be silly.  Marie enjoys banging on the keyboard, and the result is about as eloquent as anything else on Twitter.  She has a handful of followers (thanks, Breda!), & I try not to abuse it--no more than one tweet a day, and often several days go by in between tweets.

Hey, at least it's not a Facebook page, right?

1 comment:

Charlene said...

Best advice is to write.

I agree, rewrites. Get it down on paper and then rewrite. also, sometimes the difference between mundane and excellent is good editing.