Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A No Good, Horrible Weekend

I'm trying to get into the writing groove and finding it sooooo hard to do the revisions on my novel. Where's the love? I am not getting the same satisfaction from polishing a chapter as I get from polishing a short poem or article. When I work on a short piece, I can say that I'm finished. I don't see the end in sight for my novel.

The first half of the book is in decent shape. The second half, not. So I've decided to borrow a trick from my singing days ... start working on a piece backwards. Yes, I've sung Mozart and Verdi and Brahms and the only way to finish with a bang is to make each and every cell of your body knows the material. And you do this by working backwards. Because you practice, practice, practice getting to the end, you can finally not just sing the notes, but feel the music in your bones. That's what I want to accomplish with my words. As Dr. Green would say, "Once more, with feeling!"

I'm good at beginnings. I love writing when the characters are literally telling me the story and all I'm doing is transcribing. But characters are fickle. They stop talking (perhaps I'm not listening) or do something I'd rather they not do. Sustaining a story for fifty-sixty thousand words is hard. Making it sing (with feeling) is even harder. So, I'm going backwards, and I must admit that working on the ending has put me in a better mood. I'm leaving these characters in a better place ...

So what does this have to do with a no good, horrible weekend? Nothing, except, when the worst thing that can happen is twisting your ankle so you have to keep off your feet, ice it and rest, life's actually pretty good.

So, tell me, how do you fall in love again so that you can make your stories sing?


Angela said...

I wish I had an answer for you. I think when I get into the funk of 'This isn't good enough, It'll take too much work to fix it' the only way for me to get past it is to either a) jump in and start revising or b) shelve the project for awhile and come back to it in a few weeks. Time away from it gives me perspective, and the first thing I'll do is read it start to finish. It usually ends up that I discover it isn't quite as awful as I'd first thought.

Vijaya said...

Thanks Angela. I've had the summer off so that leaves option a). Perhaps I need more discipline?

Bish Denham said...

Well, you know me,Vijaya, revising is not my cup of tea. That said, here are two quotes.

"Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia." Kurt Vonnegut

"Where else in life can spilled milk be transformed into icecream? We cannot go back and revise our lives, but being able to go back and revise what we have written comes closest." Katherine Patterson.

Vijaya said...

I love that quote by Katherine Patterson ... and I do so agree to write for oneself. Thanks for the encouragement.