Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Weary Wednesday

It's seems I'm taking more time off than usual with everything...writing, renovating, and just living. The beginning of the year saw me backing down from my daily blogs to three times a week, and this month it's more like twice a week. What can I say? Too many fish in the pan and all are burning. The master juggler is getting old and dropping her balls.

Five short years ago, I could have gardened, chopped trees, painted, wrote, cooked, worked two jobs, etc. Now, I'm lucky if I can do one of those things a day. I spent Saturday chopping down two Japanese yews which were very overgrown...I'm talking about trunks five to seven inches in diameter reaching twelve feet tall. I ended up having to climb up on the roof to top them off...that's how tall they were. Luckily I do have an electric chain saw which I love. I was done.

I cut them back to about three feet tall and they look scraggly. I know they will fill back out. I actually have hated them since we bought the house, but my husband loves them. It was a compromise because if it were up to me I would have chopped them all down to the root ball. After two hours I had them back to a manageable size and then came the job of cutting the limbs and branches I cut off. By the time I finished, I was exhausted. My broken heart was pumping at almost two hundred beats a minute. I hear you now, "Are you insane!" I must be, but the job is done. The repercussions of this action...a day in bed because my back would allow me to either stand or lay down without pain. I couldn't sit in a chair more than five minutes at a time. In case you didn't know, I have rack and pinion steering in my back due to a shooting incident and an accident.

SO what does this have to do with writing, you ask. Have you reread your story and had to decide what is needed to make the story pace faster? Streamline? Make it flow better? You got it. Sometimes you have to start at the top and work your way down.

It may mean making drastic cuts of things you absolutely love about your story. Major writing, and cutting it off at the ankles and starting again. Don't get discouraged. The same impetus which caused you to begin writing will carry you through.

You, as an author, can edit a story because you wrote it. It is much harder to do it for someone else's story. What do you risk in editing someone else's work?

1) You are calling their baby ugly. Nobody wants to hear this. As a writer you have given birth to your creation. It's like when a mutual friend called my sister a nasty word. Now, I may have used that same word to describe my own sister from time to time, but this was different...this was a fighting word to me. I did punch him for it.

When your baby is ugly there is hope. Your story will develop into your dream child over time. It takes editing to make this creation beautiful. Just like this huge eyed, big, eared, scanty haired child pictured. It won't always look like this. View your creation the same way...it's just ugly right now.

2) Time crunches. This is major for me right now. Too many irons in the fire. The more I try to do the faster time flies until many things get left unaccomplished. As a writer, how many times have you been writing and looked up at the clock to see hours pass? Or worse, still looking at a blank page after several hours? Time is your worst enemy or your best friend...it's all about perspective.

You work your day job and have three hours to write in the evening. This is after you've cooked and eaten your dinner, done the dishes, put a load of wash in the washer, and the kids are in bed...and you are staring at a blank screen or worse... line after line of squiggly red and green lines and your brain is too tired to correct it. For me, it's eight manuscripts on any day and that's a light day...my own and others.

3) You basically piss off the person you are editing. Part of the anger stems because you just called their shining creation ugly. Another part of the anger stems from the dumb mistakes they made while writing and they knew better. They are kicking themselves. You are handy so they vent towards you.

It's like the processes of grief (shock, emotional release, preoccupation with the process, physical/emotional symptoms, hostility, guilt, depression, withdrawal, and resolution). A writer goes through all these things when working with an outside editor. A good editor will understand all these things which does not have anything to do with them and realize it's all part of the author's process. They will step back and let the writer go through all the steps and then come back to the editing process later. This can take a couple of hours or months. It all depends on the writer.

Something to keep in mind when you ask someone to critique or edit your manuscript. Above all...
Keep writing and loving the Lord.


3 comments:

Thomas Wilson said...

That Ugly Baby picture is PRICELESS!! That so describes the image in my imagination when I hear that phrase about telling someone why their baby is ugly, and IT'S SMILING!
Just Priceless! As a friend, Stay Off the ROOF!
Yes I was thinking OMG are you crazy!
All my Love Thomas

Zan Marie said...

Ha! I'm at the stage lately that I'll gladly listen to the "ugly baby" comments because I've gotten stuck in the original words. When someone tells me it's ugly...and why, I'm thrilled...most of the time. ; )

BTW, I reserve roof climbing to figurative language.

Nadine Feldman said...

I have an editor whom I adore. She can tell me that my baby is ugly in a way that has me say, "Gee, thanks!" I think it's easier for me to hear the tough stuff from someone I'm paying than from a friend or relative.

I have found that helpful criticism, while it may sting, also brings great joy as it helps me get better. The key is to find someone we can trust to provide good guidance.

Great post, as always! Take good care of yourself.