“The Editing Itch”… Is there a powder for that?

QUICK UPDATE

I have recently surpassed 90K words and approx 340 pages on my current novel. It was my goal to be finished by now, but some things just take longer than expected. That’s usually how it goes, isn’t it? At least for me it is 😉

I think I have… wait for it… “THE EDITING ITCH”

Now that I’m so close to being able to say “The End”, I find I’m getting impatient. It’s been a long road and I just want to finish. I’ve been feeling “the editing itch” (there might be an actual term for this but this is what I’m calling it). The NEED to start back at the beginning. The NEED to bring cohesion to the scattered parts; order to the chaos. The NEED to flesh out my characters and my scenes with more understanding and description.

I’m excited to dive back in and fix all my early mistakes, make sure all my tenses are the same, check to see if my main character’s name is consistent (I changed it part way through), and do all those fun things that will make my story seemless and solid. I haven’t edited any part of my story other than the prologue as I wanted to get the story out of my head first. I know it will be a LOT of work, but I’m excited! It’s the next step in my journey and one step closer to having a completed novel -one that I wrote from start to finish!

One thing I’ve learned, other than patience and perserverance, is the value of the organic process– being open to allowing the unknown to pop up in your story when you least expect it. If you’re a writer, than you know this. I could say that I “knew” it would happen and as a proud “panster” I left plenty of room for it, even expected it. Admittedly, I was not fully prepared for it to blindside me and take my characters in quite a alternate direction than where I was headed. I’d heard of this happening to others before, but to experience it was another story (which it happened to provide: a new character with her own complicated back-story with whom I instantly loved!). However, this organic process took me on a detour which ended taking a longer route than I had expected to get to the transition that I needed to reach for the home stretch. Conversely, it provided me with a new character I love, an interesting new twist with history, and alternative route to reach my desired ending. In fact, this new path may have provided a “portal”, if you will, that will bypass a large scene that I think may be better suited for the next novel to get to the end of this story (oh, btw I’m writing a series if I haven’t mentioned that before-hehe).

So all that to say that as much as I like having some control and structure in my real life, I love experiencing the organic nature of writing. I love being pleasantly surprised when the unexpected is revealed and I love/hate being shocked when my characters are being stubborn and refusing to go in the direction I intended for them (and this is “the crazy” that seems to be part of the life of a writer). It’s all part of the journey and I’m loving every bit of it! When I’m feeling frustrated and impatient that I’m not at “The End” yet, I take a deep breath and remember not to rush the organic process. I don’t just want a finished novel, I want the best story I can write.

How do I know if my novel’s finished? Because it is, at last, what I profoundly wanted it to be. And more. ~Roz Morris

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Some GREAT posts I’ve read lately that I wanted to share:

I AM WRITER is a recurring Wednesday segment featuring writers answering the question “What does it mean to you to be a writer?” by Tymothy Longoria. It’s an inspiration and a good reminder when writing gets tough. Read it atAspire No More

Finding the balance in showing Vs telling by Jody Hedlund

Another great one on “show, don’t tell” and not revealing too many details about your characters by Dan Powell

Real Writers Aren’t “Aspiring” from MuseInks came at the same time I was having my own inner conflict about admitting “I am a writer”. Inspiring.

How to be effective on Twitter – and a game! Is great for Twitter etiquette and good fun! by Laura Pauling

That Thing You Wanted To Know It’s all about the financial breakdown in the publishing world. Very informative and detailed by Mandy Hubbard

Self-Doubt: A Writer’s Worst Nightmare by Sara Burr. Techniques to prevent it from consuming you and your writing.

Megg Jensen also wrote about a writer’s self-doubt in her post How Do I Know I’m An Awesome Writer? (plus an AWESOME video)

Deeper into the looking glass

I recently read a series of posts created from a conversation between Victoria Mixon, writer and editor, and Roz Morris author of Nail Your Novel among many others. The first in this 4 part series was Talking Plot followed by Talking Character ,  Talking Prose, and finally Talking Revision. If you are interested in writing, I would highly recommend reading these posts. I have highlighted a few select parts that stuck out to me, but there is so much more in each of these posts.

Excerpts from Talking Prose:

“Prose is, in fact, the single greatest over-riding quality that separates passing blips on readers’ radar from timeless classics.” ~ Victoria Mixon

When asked what makes good prose “…So what do we find so compelling about this simplicity? Intelligence, perceptiveness. The confidence the writer has to be stylish yet direct. Too many writers assume that good writing has to be complicated, or difficult to read. But good writing doesn’t obfuscate. It lets through all the light it can.”~Roz Morris

Excerpt from Talking Revision:

‘The physics of the story’—such a lovely phrase. Yes, there is great confusion out there about the differences between Copy Editing for correct writing, and Line Editing for beautiful writing, and Developmental Editing for great storytelling. So much of writing a novel happens before you write it. (And then so much happens afterward!) It’s diving deep, deep into the river of this story, swimming at the bottom, feeling into the nooks and crannies between the riverstones for the treasures buried down there. ~Victoria Mixon

The post that stood out to me the most was Talking Character: (Excerpt of part of their conversation)

Victoria: So what’s the single most important thing aspiring writers should know about character?

Roz: Use the plot to test the things the character doesn’t want to face. That makes the most compelling story. It’s the skeletons in the cupboard, the stuff they need to deal with and move on from. Perhaps it’s emotional baggage that’s making them choose the wrong type of boyfriend. The grudge that means they can’t forgive a particular kind of behaviour. The nasty fact they’ve been avoiding. It’s got to be something that’s holding them back or spoiling their lives.

Victoria: Internal conflict. Absolutely. Stories are about people in trouble, characters struggling to save themselves, and the best threats are always internal because those are the ones that are hardest to combat. “You I can walk away from. But me I’m stuck with.”

Roz: Yes, yes, yessity yes! And if they deal with it they will emerge different and free. Which will be extremely satisfying for the reader. Would we be making a simplistic generalisation to say that all truly satisfying stories are really about that question—the ‘me’ that the characters are stuck with? Their own worst enemy who they have to make their peace with? If they can’t achieve that peace, is that tragedy? Even if it’s not high tragedy, it certainly leaves a tragic note.

Victoria: Simplistic generalization? [laughing] You say that like it’s a bad thing! It’s neither simple nor a generalization. It’s the truth. We read to experience the resolution of the protagonist’s worst nightmare, and we have to go through the nightmare to get to the release at the end. In fact, I’d go even further and say we’re reading not for the character’s release but for our own. Storytelling is the careful, powerful, professional construction of a catapult to fling a reader into space toward epiphany. We can’t create the reader’s epiphany—it depends in part upon the reader themself, so each epiphany is a tiny bit different. But a really well-built catapult will put the reader pretty much where the writer wants them to go.

Roz: I wrote about this in a post a short time ago. I work out the emotion I want for the final scene and angle everything towards it. I realised in all my work, even the novels that are only seeds in my head, my last scene would be ‘feels so good to be free’. In each book, the story is about what the character has to do to break into that state of freedom.

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I am getting closer to finishing the rough draft for my first novel (Yay!) and have found myself delving deeper into each of my characters- getting drawn in to their lives, trying to understand them, learning their reactions to each circumstance and challenge thrown their way. What has been most unexpected; however, is learning more about myself and seeking a freedom of my own truer nature as I grow myself alongside that of my main character as she grows and becomes and finds freedom in herself.

One example: I am not one to quickly embrace changes in my life. It takes me a little more time to process, but once I come to a resolve within myself I am able to go forward and adapt to the change needed. My main character, however, seems to embrace and accept change, ready to move on to what comes next. I admire this in her and is an attribute that I am learning from (slowly).

I want to always keep growing into and becoming the person I want to be, never to remain stagnant becoming stale and a shell of what I could’ve been. This I believe is also our challenge as writers to provide a catalyst of positive growth for our readers. In order for it to come through in our writing it must first come through us.

I love this part of her quote especially as I had been pondering this very thing before I had the opportunity to read it. I would even add “writing” next to “reading”…

“I’d go even further and say we’re reading not for the character’s release but for our own. Storytelling is the careful, powerful, professional construction of a catapult to fling a reader into space toward epiphany.” ~Victoria Mixon

5 Reasons Why I Write…

Why write?… “We write to make suffering endurable, evil intelligible, justice desirable and love possible… But the most important is love. That after all the suffering, all the injustice, all the evil that one sees in the world, if you can rise above it and make it beautiful, and thus lovable then that’s worth a life” — Roger Rosenblatt

For some reason I have been thinking about this lately- Why do I write?  I think the answer to this will be evolving, but for why I started writing here are 5 reasons…

1. I write because they won’t shut-up.  I remember writing stories when I was a kid and years later had ideas and thoughts of grandeur about someday writing a book. However, and unfortunately, due to some “distractions” in my life I gave up (willfully or perhaps not) the hope and dream of writing fiction.  Always in the back of mind was a whisper, a tendril, a thread of desire to write- to create; it nagged to be released from the cage that I had locked it in.  Now that I have unleashed it and allowed it freedom, it is constantly on my mind.  I hear the voices of my characters randomly throughout the day (and night) whispering to me how they would respond, interact with other characters, where they are headed next, etc.  Yes, I realize that are clinical definitions for people who “hear the voices”, but among my peers we are called writers.  I have given them life through writing and they are not willing to be quieted until their story is told.

2. I write because I read. The reasons I write are similar to the reasons I read.  I started reading fiction again after years of putting it up on a shelf (yes, both literally and figuratively) as circumstances in my life started getting more stressful and to be honest, I needed an escape.  That’s what I found once again in fiction.  I was able to flee into someone else’s life: to be apart of a new adventure each time I opened a new book, to meet new friends, to be the heroine, to be in control of my destiny when IRL I felt at a loss, to fall in love all over again with the hero (please note that I have my very own IRL hero that I fall in love with more and more everyday), to slay the bad guys and to gain the victory, and to travel not only all over the world but also to discover other dimensions, realms, and new worlds.

3. I write for others. For all those same reasons I read, I write with a hope for the future opportunity to be able to share with others.  I hope to be able to provide for others what books have provided for me.  Not only escape, but also the chance to experience life with all it’s challenges, losses, fears, hopes, dreams, and most importantly love through the eyes of others.

4. I write for me. Now in my early 30’s, I find I am finally discovering more of who I am and becoming more confident in myself as an adult.  I write for me.  I find more of myself each time I write, discovering and growing into the woman I am trying to be.  I write for me because I need a creative outlet.  Sometimes, I find that if I’m struggling with trying figure out something in my real life it will come to me when my character is trying to sort through something and vice a versa.  Writing has become a part of me, changed me and continually causes me to grow.  I write for me because I LOVE it.

5. I write because above all else, I have a story to tell.

Little Accomplishments

My current WIP (work in progress) that I’ve been working on (well on and off for the last 2 years) has just hit a milestone, or at least what I consider a milestone.  I just recently past 50,000 words and 200 pages!  I have always wanted to write a book, but was never sure if I actually could so this is a big deal for me.  I wanted it documented to remind myself that I CAN do it as long as I stick with it and keep writing.  So YAY! And yes, I did a little happy dance when I hit this milestone.  Yes, I still have a ways to go and yes, it’s only a rough draft, BUT people that’s 50k words and 200 pages that has never existed and I CREATED it and I’m EXCITED!

So CHEERS! Here’s to the next 50,000 words (or however many it takes me to finish) because I WILL finish this book.

Paranoia

AGGHHHH! At this very moment my husband is reading my VERY VERY rough draft of my novel thus far. Only 1 person has read it and even then it was only the first couple chapters. Oh my mind is reeling with how disjointed and unfocused it is. I haven’t even gone back and read it from the beginning in awhile and for some reason think that I have a couple chapters out of order. Oh the insanity! That’s what he is going to say when he’s done, I’m sure of it. I altered my characters a bit as I went and need to go back and make them cohesive. What if he hates it? What if it’s not interesting or any good? I wish I didn’t know that he was reading it RIGHT NOW because I can’t think of anything else.

People may not realize how personal writing is, especially fiction. It is telling of my imagination and my ability (or inability) for descriptions that will invite and include others into my world and to let anyone in, even he that is closest to my heart and my biggest supporter, is a very BIG stretch for me.  I’m scared.  At least I am not home and can’t see his initial reactions, because like I said, it’s ROUGH.  Of course, I will want people to read it and re-read it and give me critiques, but when it is MUCH further along.  This will be hard to get used to.  Is it just me or do others feel this way with their first WIP?  Ok, I must keep writing so my time is not wasted.  Stay tuned…

Am I Lost? Or Are They?

I should be writing, but it’s not really happening.  I’m even out, away from my distractions at home; unfortunately, I came to Starbucks today which was a mistake because there are more distractions here and it is so LOUD!  I usually like to write at Borders or another local cafe when I write, but today a Cranberry Bliss bar won me over.  They are my FAVORITE and they are only around during this holiday season.  Borders usually works for me FYI – I find it inspiring to be around all those books and all that creativity and imagination and it is one of my “happy” places (that and Target… just sayin’).  And I digress.

So I should be writing.  I have even made several different attempts and read and re-read what I had previously written trying to inspire this next scene but for some reason, it just isn’t flowing.  So FRUSTRATING! (in an expressive mood apparently with all the caps;)  I know where I am trying to get, but I am having a hard time finding the path to getting there from where I am now.  In other words… I’m LOST!

What do we do when we lose something? Retrace our steps.  So I did and I am, but I’m still not finding it.  What do we do when we get lost? People always say, especially to kids, “If you get lost, STAY PUT, and someone looking for you will come and find you”.  And they can’t very well find you if you are continually moving from one place to the next, now can they?  So in my mixed up metaphor, does that mean I need to just stay where I am and keep reflecting and the characters will come and find me?  Or are they (my MCs) lost and I need to find them?  Obviously, I am still trying to figure this out, but I thought perhaps if I wrote it out I would get more clarity.  Unfortunately, I think I may be even more confused, LOL.

*A few minutes later and after more schizophrenic deliberation*… LIGHTNING STRIKE! (ok a bit overkill but sounded awesome in my head)  I think I have come to a point where I do not know my characters deep enough to know their responses/actions in their present situation to get them from point A to point C.

Hmmm…

Well, I got nothing else.  So that’s where I am going to start.  Even if it’s not the key to get me out of my funk, it can’t hurt to keep exploring one’s characters.  Right?

Here’s to the journey… CHEERS!

Mmm... Peppermint White Mocha

Cheers!

DAY 1!!

Day 1 of NaNoWriMo has now come and gone, well for me it has.  I am done for the day.  My day did not go how I thought it would but surprisingly when I had the chance to write, the words were flowing.  I met my goal and exceeded it!  I know there will possibly be days when I am not able to, for whatever reason, meet my goal so I am trying to build a bit of a word buffer when I can.  I am exhausted and headed to bed.  I will not bore you with updates from every day, but will pop in sporadically with a few tidbits from the story and word counts.

DAY 1 WORD COUNT:  2518