Thursday, January 04, 2007

Long time no see

I've mentally written three or four blog posts but couldn't log in to blogger for a week. So you'll have to miss them.

So this is mostly news.

I revised my novel again. This time it's really done. ;) I actually took out two characters, Sirena and Fina--I'll use them in a sequel some day because I still like them and the interplay between two bad guys who think they're good but in opposition to one another. I also like the idea of someone who thinks they are in charge but are really being manipulated extensively by the "conquered" one. Anyway, they didn't really add to this novel--I cut 5000 words and only had to write two sentences to replace it and sew up the seams. That says, "Not vital info here." So now we're getting close to the "acceptable" range for a novel--157,000 words (I've now cut 57,000 words from the book!). I also rewrote my query after reading anaylses by two agents of hundreds of queries, and then I sent it out to a pretty big agency--and got a rejection from a rather small one.

Anyway, that done, the "stupor of thought" that was stopping me from writing my next book completely dissolved, and I got going with the goal to finish before the baby comes (very possible if I write 1000 words a day--and with the last book I wrote 4000 a day). It all went well for a minute, and then I froze up again. Realized later that night that I had made a mistake in the narrative, and I suspect if I fix it, the rest will flow.

It has been amazing to me that if I make a mistake or leave out some important detail, or write something that doesn't work, I can't write any more. And then if I go back and fix the problem, the words flow again. It's bizarre. Many times I've frozen up and couldn't think of a single thing to write and had to pray about what I'd done wrong in order to figure it out--sometimes the missing piece or the wrong part is not clearly wrong until many many pages later. But I've learned to just go with it. If I force myself to write through the block (common advice for writers), I just end up having to delete the junk later.

I have finally learned what Mom told me years ago--just go with what you feel like doing. If I don't feel like writing, I don't. I sort toys. Or read. Or play with the kids. Or stare at the wall. Or make something tasty. Or whatever. Doesn't do any good to force yourself to work--on the house or the book. It just makes for physical pain and stuff you have to redo later.

Writing has been a lesson in revelation for me. It works the same way, with the genuine joy and excitement when I'm doing it right, and the stupor of thought so that I can't even remember what I was going to say when I've done it wrong. And the slow, day-by-day coaching that is challenging but never too much to handle. And when I do what I feel, and pray daily for the next instructions, I feel happy in so many other areas of my life.

The question as I cut the most recent 5000 words was "Why didn't I just do it right in the first place?" And the answer was, obviously, that I've learned more about writing from having to cut a fourth of the book out than I ever would have learned from doing it right the first time. Besides, the learning happens on the journey, not at the destination.

And it's all about learning, isn't it?

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