Another Friday

The week has flown by and what have I done?

At least I can say that every day I worked on my manuscript–two hours at least. That doesn’t sound like much but editing, checking word for word, wandering around the house reading out loud, stopping and pencil circling where my tongue gets tied, takes effort. In fact it takes a lot of focussed effort. I do a several chapters a day. Then I go to the computer, reread the edited chapter(s) from the day before and enter new changes from the present day, meanwhile still re-reading and re-editing, continuing to look up in the thesaurus for hopefully better words.

What I did differently this week was not how I edit,  however, but how my editing fits into my day. With a great deal of discipline I did not go on the internet/email until late afternoon. I have found (no news to most) that answering emails sends a million distractions. By late in the day my tired fingers find the delete button more quickly and I go madly off in fewer directions, especially if supper is on the stove. Not burning it is vastly more important than the latest video on sink holes.

Speaking of sink holes, that’s what emails can be–sinkholes in creative life.

Reading from a hard copy II

Yes, I am still reading from the hard copy of my manuscript and that will be for quite some time. My process is to speak the words and sentences to myself out loud. At the slightest hesitation I reread, checking what it was that made the lines not flow well.

After a week of this I am still on the first few chapters. (It does not help that it is tax time.)

Why is editing so much more thorough on paper as compared to on the computer? My first page which I had gone over many times previously now has scratched out words, arrows with additions porcupining in all directions, a paragraph circled and put in a different place, suggestions starred in the margin for later inclusion and the inevitable typos. So why did I not see them before?

I believe it is because the computer gives a gloss of perfection, an impression of slickness that could not possibly need changes.

But of course changes are needed. So I carry on.

Reading from a hard copy

Last week I was editing on my computer that part of my manuscript which was from the point of view of Bronwyn. There were major revisions. Wednesday of this week I completed that process, having reread each of the majorly revised chapters several times.

So what next? Do I go back to the other character again? Do I read both together? I decided on the latter but with a difference. I would read from a hard copy, something I do several times over the course of revision.

I find I read completely differently on paper than on a computer screen. I notice more. Perhaps I notice more because the written words on a paper page physically look  different to me. I also hold the pages in my hands, scribble deletions and additions, even flip to another part when a sudden insight suggests something “brilliant”.

Surely I could do that on the computer. Yes and I do. But not as easily and not as thoroughly. Whereas the computer zones me out and before I know it I am pages beyond where I stopped working carefully, reading on paper keeps me more grounded to the copy, so that I analyze line by line.

So far I am only several pages in and many scribbles later. It will take a while, but will be worth it. I hope.

Under Reconstruction

It’s Friday, yet again, despite my computer telling me it’s Saturday and I nearly forgot this blog commitment given my busyness.

Editing has been going well if by well means pulling apart chapters, throwing out scenes, giving a minor character a new job with all that implies, and generally inhabiting the dictionary and thesaurus. Half way through the week I began to think I was getting nowhere. But today was productive, resulting in scenes and ideas that make better sense and characters that live with greater fullness. At least that is my hope.

Next week will mean undoubtedly more of the same. But that’s the editing process and, whether it sounds like it or not, for me it is fun.

Substantive Changes

I don’t know how long I will be able too sustain my plan of writing every week something about what my process has been, but this week is not a problem.

I am happily back to writing, but unhappily or happily depending on how you look at it, I am into substantive changes. Not huge restructuring I hope. But definitely tightening one particular character.

If you remember, this manuscript is from two points of view and I did a fairly comprehensive edit of one. This week I have started the second character. As I get half way through I see that her issues must be resolved differently and with more action.  I rewrote one chapter this morning. That feels decent. But the next chapter I worked on, the changes were not enough and not good enough.

I will reread from the beginning cursorily to summarize each chapter and outline where this character should be at each stage. It will take time. It will be a slog but worth it.

I wish myself luck.

Until next week…

Process Continues

Still sick with this %$#%$# flu/cold, I have done little workwork this week. However, I did participate in an online webinar on writing from Balboa Press by Donna Hatch which turned out to be (to my surprise) useful. I am already pretty aware of most of the points she made, but there were a few new-to-me editing tips which I appreciated. These suggestions are particularly well timed for me as I am (or should be) deep in revision.

You will hear in detail about this editing process in coming weeks as my pathetic first draft definitely needs more than just the elimination of weak verbs like was and seemed.

The other process related ah ha moment I had (or re-had) this week was, once started, how important it is to work every day, weekends included. If I don’t it takes me sooooooo much longer to get into the manuscript.

Now back to the couch or the bed.

Editing and Doubt

Another week and I finally have got back to editing the pathetic first draft of my next manuscript. It is written from the point of view of two characters. I have edited Carli and through the process she has grown and revealed herself to me in many new ways. Great.  And now I start with Bronwyn.  Already I see even more problems than I realized.

Of course, there’re all the little words like just and still and really and but that need weeding out. Then there’s the consistency of timing between the two story threads and who has revealed what to whom when. And there’s tying up loose ends.

But really, is it still just another story with no worth and no one to read it?

Hmm. Yes, editing is a huge and important part of the process. And so is doubt.

Process plus Faerie by Eisha Marjara

One of the delights of writing is that reading the genre you write is heartily encouraged. So, while my analytic energy because of the aftermath of flu is not up to deciding what words/paragraphs/ideas to delete or not from my current manuscript, I can still read. Therefore I can argue that I’m still working–sort of. Reading in the genre is part of my process, any writer’s process.

Told in flashbacks, Faerie by Eisha Marjara is a candid and sympathetically drawn YA novel about anorexia. Lila, a chunky brown kid growing up on the Prairies in the 1980s, does not want to become an adult, at least an adult like the ones around her. Life (and the passage of time?) seems controllable by restricting her caloric intake. When her weight becomes dangerously low she is admitted to hospital as a psychiatric patient.

A great novel for teens, girls especially. It is complex and believable. I give Faerie four stars.

Consider the Uses of This Time

Most of another week flew by without feeling I have accomplished anything. Yes I have worked hard at getting well–lots of lying around, drinking hot lemonade and being cross with myself at not getting better. After all I never get sick. Right?

But then it got worse. The frustration at wasted time. Then the should I be doing this anyway chatter. The self-deprecation. I’m not good enough. Why bother? There are far better writers out there….etc etc.

Eventually I got to consider-the-uses-of-this-time. I realized it can be a time for cleaning out and healing in other ways. A time for remembering my purpose, or refocusing. And asking how I can accomplish this purpose in the best manner for me? And this process brought me back to writing, once again, because I feel I have something to say.

But even if I don’t get published again and kids don’t hear my marvelous conclusions on life, the act itself of expressing myself through writing nourishes and so I will continue.

Continue until another bout of self-doubt happens and I have to re-remember this part of the process.

A week of Non-writing

When I wrote last week’s blog (yes 3 weeks in a row, but who’s counting?) I had in mind describing the editing process I would be going through this week. Except the editing didn’t happen. The flu hit and is still tugging at me.

Today, still weak and tired and achy, I force myself upright to get a blog written before my self-imposed deadline. I can’t break my New Year’s resolution yet, can I? Here goes.

I learned something in almost a week of non-writing. Yes I still believe it is important to write everyday. But if you can’t and must lie there to heal, then listen. My brain (yours too?) chatters continually. Under normal circumstances, much of what I hear is negative commentary on me, so I spend energy pushing it away. Surprisingly, at my fluiest and foggiest, that normal negative chatter is gone. In its place is a stream of creative meanderings.

I now have two new ideas for stories. Whether those ideas become anything more than ideas is irrelevant. It’s that I listened and found them. And maybe I’ll find that creative place again without the flu as a necessary bedfellow.