Archive for August, 2008

Self Editing

August 27, 2008

I hate editing my own work. It’s one of those things that makes me cringe. I do not know if something I once thought was funny or brilliant is cliched or irrelevant.

Tim Gunn on Project Runway told the parable of a guy in the monkey’s cage. When he first gets there he thinks it stinks. As the guy spends more time, the monkey dung smells less offensive til the point it is almost tolerable. I do not know if/when I work hard on my book how long technically I have been in the monkey cage, if I am there at all.

In my fantasies, I would love to write and write and writer and then have a professional editor read through all of my musings and tell me what to tighten, what to kill, what links need to be written or rewritten, a reality check on how to shape up my story. I suppose writing coaches do that for nice sums of cash.

Since I am not as successful as I would like as a writer, I must wade through my drafts and put pen to paper again. I have reminded myself that it is much easier to edit a sloppy draft than a blank sheet of paper which is true. And naturally time offers some objectivity. I cringe less the more distance that has passed between the actual writing and the editing (assuming I like the draft.) My distaste for some sections may manifest more strongly as time elapses.

And then of course there is the whole critiquing aspect. But I’ll comment on that at a later date.


Productivity Update

August 26, 2008

So this summer has not been as productive as I would like. Of course I tend to feel this way for most of the seasons. I never quite got the routine down which, like the pregnancy, is a poor excuse, or a great one. But in the end since I only have to answer to myself, I am not satisfied.

Like a dieter who cheats, this does not mean that I should throw in the towel. Instead, I am going to accept that the writing seminar, the books that I have read and the progress that I have made has brought me closer to finishing my novel, even if it is not as far as I would like.

My writers group is meeting after Labor Day and I’m up for a submitting. I have been working on one section of which I am particularly proud, both of the story and how the writing and details have evolved. I’m a little tired of considering the beginning, which I workshopped both at the writers conference and my writers group. Since I am relatively confident what happens, I’m just not thrilled with the execution, I feel comfortable putting it aside and working on another section.

So that’s the latest. Nothing superb. I’ve also been neglecting the blogs, but I intend to get into the full swing of things post labor day.

Get Out of Funeral Free

August 11, 2008

My grandmother’s nearly 96 year old sister just died. She struggled with Alzheimer’s for years and her passing was not a big surprise.

My 90 year old self sufficient grandmother says it is still hard to lose a sister. I believe her but don’t want to find out anytime soon.

My mom wants me to go to the funeral with her and my grandma in a town about two and a half hours away. I do not want to go. I am tired of doing the *right* thing when I feel it is rarely reciprocated, evidenced a few weeks ago when my entire family descended into town. I do the *right* thing a lot and my siblings who live 3,000 miles away get to live their lives as they please, interrupted with the occasional delivery of bad news. I am the one accompanying my mom to her doctors’ appointments, consoling my grandmother, being the good loyal daughter.

I never really knew my great aunt and the stories my grandmother has shared paint her in a less than flattering light: she was an abusive mother, competitive and bitter sister and overall bitter person. So when my grandmother thought I should name my unborn child after her, I smiled and thanked her for the suggestion. There was nothing redeeming in my great aunt ‘s legacy that I have heard that I want my daughter to follow. When my child would ask me about her namesake, I would be at a loss to find one positive story to share.

So, therefore I am passing on the funeral. My mother called and asked me to reconsider going out of respect for the other family members. (At least two of her five grandchildren are not attending.) I did find a jewish tradition that prohibits pregnant women from attending funerals of non-immediate family members. It is not so much a law but a superstition about warding off the evil eye. I’ll take it.
And I will still continue to do the *right* think when it really matters.


August 4, 2008

Did I mention that all of the new techniques and focus on prose that I learned in the workshop means I will at a minimum want to rewrite every single word of my novel? I know it will make it into a better book and I know every writer rewrites multiple times. It just feels a bit overwhelming.

I draw the parallel to running a marathon, which I have done twice. There are multiple times during the training and the actual race that I ask myself what I am doing and why I voluntarily signed up for this challenging consuming obstacle. But then I finish and I feel proud and I’m ready to run another run. And then the cycle repeats.

I do think of writing like exercise. I am happy once I’m doing it – or once it’s over. Sometimes starting is the hardest thing. I will drag myself to the writer’s room reluctantly and unsure what I will do but I put my fingers to the keyboard and make something happen.

The babysitter is coming shortly so I can leave shortly. Sometimes I wish I was disciplined enough to write at home, but at least I am disciplined enough to write outside the house.

Back from the Conference

August 1, 2008

I thoroughly enjoyed the 10 day writing conference. My workshop leader offered valuable advice and feedback. What a rush to have such a respected and accomplished author mark Funny! and ha! on my sample.

I volunteered to go on the chopping block first which was fine. My selection was definitely not my strongest or best representation of my writing and after the fact, some of the comments from the participants stung a little. I’m sure part of it is me being overly sensitive. Hormones anyone?
But if you are a writer, you have to have thick skin. If I mention the bad comments, I should also say that many notes were encouraging and people seemed intrigued in the story. Parts of the selection stood out for some people.

Two participants submitted such poorly written amateur pieces and the group was still supportive, which then of course makes me doubt the sincerity of their comments. I know wholeheartedly this is foolish and non-productive. The only thing for me to do is move forward.

Our leader spent time talking about the choice of words and the prose of the story as opposed to the plot and the big picture. When preparing for our reading at the end, I must have rewritten the single page a dozen times. It doesn’t matter because it broke the “I’m afraid of writing” seal which is helping my momentum.

I know the only thing for me to do is write. I can safely say that I am okay with my puke draft of the novel. Now I have to go back and edit it which I knew I would do all along. I just did not think I would have to comb the thesaurus so frequently, but if it leads to a better book, then who cares!