Monday, February 9, 2009

Something realized

Edit hardcopy. I repeat: Edit hardcopy. In doing this I cannot believe I never realized what a vital step this is in the writing process. Perhaps being that I'm in the homestretch of putting the wrapping paper on what is technically my second novel, this is the first time I've really taken the time to print out and read the whole thing all the way through. In doing this, I'm finding significant ways in which to tighten and otherwise improve the overall voice of my writing. Perhaps I'm just that much more aware this time around of what constitutes good writing, but I can't emphasize enough how much better I'm feeling about this book despite the amount of extra time it's taking to finish it off.

Three times I've gone through my manuscript on the screen. Consequently, I've made some fairly significant changes, trimming the overall text down by about 23 thousand words and making adjustments according to my own sensibilities aided by comments provided by the gracious folks who agreed to read my work. But with the printed pages before me, I'm catching so much more in relation to overall voice and style.

To anyone out there who writes that might be reading this, I strongly suggest taking the time to print your work out, grab a pencil and go at it. You'll be amazed at what you might find.

Monday, January 12, 2009

And I call myself a writer.

After two years, and consequently, two novels, I was feeling pretty proud of myself. HA, and double HA! Systematically, I thought I would spend a few months editing one, then another, going through the submissions process with double the odds of being noticed by an agent or a publisher. Hey, I've learned a lot. Shorter sentences makes for quicker reading. Write actively not passively. Limit your number of adverbs. Show don't tell (and if I hear that catchy phrase one more time I'm going to pulverize something). Most recently I've found that starting off sentences with words that end in 'ing' in most cases could be done differently with better results. Who knew? There's lots more rules like these (more like guidelines if you ask me) to follow and I'm diligently attempting to ingrain them into my consciousness so I'll be aware of them when I discard them as irrelevant. Yes, I've improved.

But I still have a long way to go.

God, I had no idea how long this becoming a writer thing would take. If I had, I might have reconsidered before I started off down this path. Now the problem is I can't stop.

That may be some consolation when I theorize that many would be writers start off much like me, not realizing what they're getting themselves into. And consequently, these wannabes, when the realization hits, turn and run like a pedophile at the sight of Chris Hansen. I feel I'm now in the pecking order, and the longer I stay in, the closer to the front of the line I'll get. Of course writing isn't an exact science, if it were I'm sure I wouldn't be interested. But it's a good hope to hang onto and one (only one, mind you) that keeps me going.

The biggest obstacle to all this, however, is work ethic, of which I am now questioning. Those who are successful at anything, be it sports, business, academia, music, lumberjacking, whatever, are driven by an insane work ethic; something I have always from the time I was a bitty baby, struggled with.

Lately I've had this nagging feeling that I'm not doing enough. Nagging feelings (mental note: refrain from using the phrase 'nagging feelings' in any of my writing) are not something to be toyed with, and sometime in the past 24 hours or so, I figured out the origins of this feeling. Aside from a couple of weak ass short stories, I've been doing nothing but editing my drafts for a few months now. If I'm going to be a fucking novelist, then I fucking have to write novels. And to be honest, when it comes to editing, I really slack off.

A little over two years ago, I set a regimen up for myself that got me out of bed an hour earlier than necessary to use that time for writing. Every day, no ifs, ands, or buts. It's sort of worked. As I mentioned, I've got two novels, one in third draft, the other in first. Now it appears I've reached a new stage in the game; one in which I'm going to have to do more. Sure, I need to keep up with the rewrites in order to make the two books I've got publishable. But I have to start something new as well. Obviously that requires more time and effort. Time and effort that I'm not sure I have the energy for. So now it's time to raise the bar (shit, another cliche). Somehow I'll have to find the time to: A) start a new novel, B) do my rewrites, C) get my submissions in order, D)do all the other crap life demands of me.

I'll try to keep you posted.