Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Write It

Last fall, I was trying to get into the habit of forcing myself to write at least once or twice a week. I was working through two stories (one novella, one novel) and making myself take it in order, so that I wouldn't just work on my favorite bits and leave the parts I didn't like as much to drag down the finishing process.

So instead, I got bogged down halfway through. I got to where I didn't even like what had been my favorite bits. I couldn't stand to look at any of it. So I dropped writing for a while. (This is why I'm not published, never mind professional, like I used to dream of being. I don't have nearly enough drive and commitment.)

But a couple of days ago, I pulled up the novel and started to read it. And while parts of it still drag, and some of my re-writes had sucked life out rather than building it up, overall the story managed to pull me in and keep me going. It actually got better when I got past the parts I'd rewritten, and into the bits that were only half-finished. I think I need to consider a big reorganization of that one. I need to cut out the parts that bored me -- if I, the author, can't even stay interested, what hope have I of snaring the reader? -- and focus on the parts that fascinated me. And even if it makes things a little more confusing, I think the cool gimmick bits might need to go. They're acting more like speed bumps than acceleration lanes.

And then yesterday I pulled out the novella. I approached it with a sense of something like dread -- almost like opening your high school yearbook and cringing in anticipation of being faced with something you used to think was incredibly cool, but now find completely horrible. But much to my surprise, it was imminently readable. There's one scene missing altogether, and another half-scene that I need to rewrite (I had an idea to improve it, and jotted notes, but never got around to doing it), and there's a couple of places where I need to make some changes to get my characters to act their ages (especially the one who's meant to be in his mid-20s but acts like he's 16)... but overall, I liked it. I felt their frustrations, I enjoyed their triumphs. I'd read it again, I think, even in this unpolished state.

(Actually, I need to beware the "polished" state. I've noticed a tendency in my editing to rework sentences so that they flow so smoothly, they're almost unnoticeable. Which is great with the day-job, where the point is to convey clear and bloodless information. But not so good with fiction, which needs to be gritty and visceral in order to make an impact.)

Anyway, I hope the fact that I got sucked into my own writing is a sign that I'm ready to start working on it again. I've missed it.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Hi Liz, I recognize so much of myself in this post. I'm trying to get back into writing too and my experiences have been very similar to yours. Nice to know that there other struggling writers out there with dreams of being published.