Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Monday, August 1, 2011

Prying the Words Out

So, my insomnia finally broke a few nights back... when it no longer mattered what time I needed to be up in the morning. That's the bitter irony about insomnia--you get the sleep when it doesn't matter anymore.

I'm up to my neck in the hardest revision I've ever done. Revising Secrets is like drowning slowly. I've made so many changes to characters and scenes that it keeps snowballing to later chapters... nothing can be the same in the end if you overhaul where it began. Plus, I'm meant to be adding more plot points and action, but I just don't know if it's enough. This is hard. Really hard. My husband kept coming up to check on me yesterday when I'd dragged my laptop into the therapy room to work. Every time he'd come up I'd rant at him about how hard it was and how much it kept snowballing to more revision. I was living up to the crazed writer stereotype yesterday.

Part of this is summer being what it is, though. It's rare for the kids to have a quiet "nothing scheduled" day. Every day is a new scheduled activity or a planned playdate or something. I'm insisting on down days for T because he isn't handling the strain any better than I am. We've had long keening/crying jags and last Wednesday he started banging his head against things to cope. On Saturday, we spent the day in Seattle watching "Aladdin the Musical" in the kids' first real theatre experience. By the drive home, both kids were crying and overwrought. We had a whole week of day camp for T the previous week. He was a wreck by the end of it. I was a wreck by the end of it.


Anyway, today is one of those rare "nothing scheduled" days, so I'd planned to work more on the revision. I've told Sarah that I'll have it done by the end of August, but I haven't added that I really, really, really have to have it done and have moved on to something less stressful.

This revision... this summer... this chaos... is killing me.

On the other hand, I think the kids are having fun. The parts they'll remember... will be fun. I'm hoping they forget the crying and strain and their mother hiding in the therapy room and remember the fun. I'm also confident I can do this revision. I just wish my brain didn't feel so muddy from trying to mesh the old and new and change everything while keeping the good parts.

I'm nearly to the point where I drop the old manuscript other than a few scenes. I'm not sure how to do it... at all. I don't think Sarah knows how to do it. She's been cheerleading me on Twitter and through email, but I don't think anyone really knew how to cut and yet save with this. Sarah took advice from like eight different sources and sent me their notes... but it was pointless to give revision notes throughout the story because this revision was going to change so much.

This revision/reinvention/reimagination is the hardest writing work I've ever done and most of the time, I feel like I'm floundering as I think: Does this work or am I just creating more stuff to cut?

I sent Sarah the first six chapters reworked a week ago and she approved them... but now... that seems like the easy part comparatively. It just keeps snowballing to more changes. It feels like I've got a crowbar, and I'm prying the words out of my brain. I know when I've finished it's going to take some serious work to make it flow and not look like it was crowbarred out of the muse.

It's so hard. I quoted this on Twitter but it's worth resaying: Nathaniel Hawthorne said, "Easy reading is damn hard writing." It's true. Making this flow so it reads like it did before... is hard. I think it had a natural flow before but it lacked in other ways. Trying to make sure it's not just all character development... is hard. I mentioned before how I sometimes "Clark Kent" characters. I give my paranormal characters some great powers, but then I tell their Clark Kent story. It turns out... the Clark Kent story is easier. The story about character development is easier. This... this is hard.

I think I'll need to go for a run later. Running always seems to help me clear the fog of too many voices and ideas out of my head. So do vitamins and caffeine and Vitamin D (via sun exposure)... I've been trying to get all those ducks in a row. Strangely enough... sleep has never helped or affected my writing. I do some of my best writing when sleep-deprived--even if it needs more clean-up. I'm hoping I'll get on a roll soon and it'll just turn into magic where the ideas seem to have a life of their own. I'm hoping to ease up on the crowbar. I'm hoping.

I wish I had a time machine and I could get to the end of August where I'll have this revision done, and I could just pick up the completed revision without all this mind-numbing chaotic stress... but that's just fiction... and possibly lazy. And while I am often lazy... even I don't believe in time travel. Besides, that'd totally mess up the space time continuum.

1 comment:

  1. Hang in there, honey! I can tell that you are a trooper. Best wishes with the revisions.