Sunday, September 27, 2009

Writing IS Research

Take heed, children, because this may well be the most important post on my blog so far!  (I'm not trying to patronize, I just liked the way that phrase sounded.)  But in all seriousness, I'm kicking myself at this moment for how short-sighted I was during my initial research process.  I am truly baffled by the fact that, aside from doing a quick internet search here and there when I needed more information on a topic, I did not see the need to get an in-depth overview of the period in which my novel is set.  

I find my decision particularly baffling because I love to research.  And I certainly know how to do it - I read upwards of twelve books before attempting to write a 20-page article published in a legal journal.  So why did I shortchange myself when writing a 400-page novel?  The only logical explanation I can come up with is that I naively viewed novel writing (period novel writing, no less) as a largely creative endeavor, not a fact-based one.  But what I dumbly failed to realize is that the era in which my characters exist would and should color their lives on an almost daily basis.  And this cannot be successfully accomplished by throwing in an occasional piece of trivia via the front page of a newspaper or a cocktail party conversation.  

Looking back over my Brilliant Editors' critiques, I see now how my lack of adequate research fatally affected my writing.  A couple BEs thought I lost the "feel" of the 1920s in places throughout the book; one asked, "How is your novel relevant to today?" and another said, honestly, "I was expecting more from the story."  Aside from the characterization issues I plan to work on, I think a lot of these problems could have been (and of course, still can be) solved by proper research.  

At the moment, I am reading Only Yesterday, An Informal History of the 1920s by Frederick Lewis Allen.  As the Amazon reviews indicated, it is proving to be an incredibly well-written, entertaining, and informative book.  But what really peaked my interest when I was shopping for research material is the fact that this book was first published in 1931!  So the author, a reputable journalist, is writing about an era which he and the world had only just lived through.  Finding such a fresh synthesis of the decade, unclouded by modern-day analysis, was a true gold mine, and had I stumbled across this book sooner, my novel may have taken very different turns.  But of course, all is not lost ... that's what re-writes are for!

POTENTIAL NOVICE WRITER SIN:  (That's right, I brought the Draconian terminology back for this one ...) Unless you are writing complete fantasy or an autobiographical novel, do not pick up a pen or tap a key on your computer until you have read several books about, talked to a number of relevant people about, or gone and experienced first hand the events/place/time period, etc. in your book.  There is no substitute for adequate research.  (As you can tell, I feel quite strongly about this.)  If you cut corners during your initial writing phase, you're just going to have to go back and deal with the holes in your manuscript later, so you might as well tackle the research in the beginning.  Besides, the extra work will be well worth it, as it may answer questions you're grappling with re character motivation and plotlines, saving you a lot of revision time down the line.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Taking Characterization to the Next Level

Well, I finished Manuscript Makeover and got a lot out of the last half of the characterization section.  Here are a few highlights:
  • On p. 266, Ms. Lyon offers a list of criteria against which to assess each of my characters.  I'm only going to list a smattering of the elements she mentions, but I definitely plan to work through all of them with each of my principle characters before tackling my re-write.
  1. Physical Appearance:  Aside from age, weight, eye color, etc., she suggests considering such characteristics as the shape and fullness of a character's lips, his/her habitual stances and gestures, and voice quality (timber and pitch).
  2. Emotional/Intellectual Disposition:  This list includes "most dominant emotion", "operating mode" (logical v. intuitive thinker), and "orientation to life" (cynical, optimistic, etc.), among other things.
  • Ms. Lyon also points out that each viewpoint character's narration must have a distinctive "voice."  I have to be particularly mindful of this because I am writing in 3rd person limited, which means that I follow my characters' thoughts closely, however I am not writing as if I were them (i.e., 1st person).  Likewise, scene/character descriptions should not be generic, but rather, slanted toward the viewpoint character's personality and the thrust of the story.  What this means is, don't just start writing about trees in the forest if those background details bear absolutely no relevance to what's going on in your character's world.  [That said, Ms. Lyon does suggest the more-is-more approach to scene-setting in order to immerse the reader in the novel's universe; she says overwritten description can always be pared down in the final draft.]
  • I really liked what Ms. Lyon had to say about dialogue, so here's a direct quote:  Dialogue "needs to sound like natural speech, [but it] should not replicate everyday speech ... it must meet two primary functions: (1) to characterize the speaker, and (2) to move the story forward." p. 278.  She also warned against describing dialogue (those awful adverbs!) and over-use of attributions (e.g., "he said/she asked"), especially "clever" ones (e.g., "she giggled/he extolled.").  Here's an example that incorporates both offenses:  "If that's the way it must be, so be it," Sue grumbled sulkily.  I was already well aware that if you can tell who's speaking without an attribution, don't use one.  But when I do use them, I must admit (to my great shame) that I often have my characters "harrumph" and "guffaw"ing their words.  Never again!  I'm also a lover of adverbs (I know, I know, I might as well have NOVICE WRITER stamped on my forehead).  Ms. Lyon suggests using action where the dialogue leaves doubt as to the character's emotions.  So in my example, I might try something like this:  "If that's the way it must be, so be it."  Sue slumped down in the armchair and scowled out the window. In trying this little exercise, I'm already getting a sense of how a writer can communicate much more interesting information by ditching the attributions in favor of description.
  • And of course, Ms. Lyon addressed my Achilles tendon - excessive exposition.  "So often in early drafts of a novel, exposition takes the form of what editors sometimes call 'an information dump.'"  Manuscript Makeover, p. 294.  She suggests weaving between showing and telling to make the passage meaningful and to push the narrative along.  I wish Ms. Lyon had spent a bit more time discussing this, but I have a feeling that, with all the other tips and techniques I've gleaned from her book, my inclination to babble tangentially about a character's past will subside during this next re-write.
To round off my discussion on characterization, I'm inserting a mock back jacket "flap copy" I came up with about halfway through my first draft.  This will give you a brief overview of my six viewpoint characters as they are currently written.  I also wanted to share a terrific idea I had the other day re how to go about "storyboarding" my character arcs.  My novel is written in alternating viewpoint chapters throughout (e.g., Ch. 1 - Cora's POV; Ch. 2- Lila's POV; Ch. 3 - Rosemarie's POV, etc.)  So to be able to track any specific character's narrative, I decided the best way to re-read my book would be to compile all viewpoint chapters by character.  I've created 6 documents, one for all the sequentially-ordered Cora chapters, one for all the Lila chapters, etc.  It's going to be a whole new experience reading my novel this way, and will surely expose character weaknesses I had missed the first time around.

Vanderkill, New York is a small town about 120 miles north of Manhattan, a few miles inland from the Hudson River.  One day in late 1926, three young men move into their recently-deceased grandmother’s mansion.  From thenceforth, six lives will be permanently intertwined in a quest for truth, loyalty and, if such a thing exists, happiness.

Lila Payton, seduced by the promise of a glamorous city life, finds herself repeating the dangerous patterns of her ill-fated, wild-living parents.

Marcus Torrington has lived too long in the shadow of his flashy, debonair cousins to not be bitter.  Losing the woman he loves to one of them is almost too much to bear.

Rosemarie Dauber never thought she would have to break out of her role as the good little minister’s daughter.  But life, and love, have other plans for her.

Ophelia James believed she had left her devil behind when she escaped the Jim Crow South.  She never dreamed that he could find her up here.

Cora Morse is a prisoner of her own failing body, but like any prisoner, she has a plan for escape.  It is, however, not without casualties.

Arthur Morse does not ask a lot out of life, tacitly accepting the secrets that are kept from him.  And carefully guarding a secret of his own.

FIGURING IT OUT AS I GO:  Characters are the heart and soul of most fiction, so you cannot do enough to improve upon them in your second draft.  Again, learn your "novice writer" tendencies.  Come up with techniques to catch those tendencies as you write and re-write so that you can substitute them with better literary choices.

Here ends my overview on characterization ... now onto the research phase ...

Revised Revision Plan

So here's the plan (I wanted to update my original revision plan now that I have a better sense of the task at hand):
  • Finish the chapter on characterization in my how-to book by the end of this week.
  • RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH.  My cursory internet trolling while writing the novel didn't cut it, so I have ordered a number of books that I think will greatly aid me in fleshing out the essence of the time period.  Several of my Brilliant Editors felt that my novel lost some of its 1920s feel in parts, and could have been taking place in modern day.  That's not good!  My challenge is to maintain a steady and unmistakable Jazz Age backdrop, without seeming gimicky.  I also plan to visit the local historical society library in the next week or so to get a better flavor of this particular region during that period.  My research will likely be ongoing, and I will continue to trudge forward with the next steps while I'm reading.
  • Storyboard each viewpoint character's narrative.  This is going to be a time-consuming and incredibly valuable endeavor.  I need to chart the storylines for all 6 characters, paying special attention to their motivations, personality traits, and dynamic interactions with one another.  This will be the first time I will be reading my book with a "slash-and-burn" mentality.  In other words, I'm not going to be approaching my manuscript with a pencil for tweaking lines here and there.  It's bold red pen time!
  • Storyboard a new narrative plan.  I'm already committed to re-writing my whole novel.  I believe that not only will the characters benefit from this, but my style and tone in general will benefit.  That's not to say that I won't lift passages from my first draft, but at this stage, I'm beginning to see my first version as a 400 page character biography.  It provides an excellent road map for the task I'm about to undertake, but it in itself is not a publishable product.
FIGURING IT OUT AS I GO:  Get a game plan, and don't be afraid to revisit and rework it.  Staying organized is what enabled you to finish your novel, and it's going to be the only way you're ever going to navigate through the murky world that is novel revision!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Truth Has Set Me Free! (Part II)

This post is a continuation on my conversation with one of my BEs over the weekend.  I won't go through and detail all of his comments; instead, I want to list a few key points I took away from the discussion:
  • Give character relationships depth and conflict.  Specifically, he did not understand the initial attraction between Cora and her husband Arthur ("Being a 'nice guy' just doesn't cut it.")  He also wanted me to bring the growing tension between Lila and her best friend, Rosemarie, to a head, instead of allowing it to subside and letting life return to normal between them, which is the way the subplot is currently written.  There were several other relationships (Marcus-Edward, the playboy; Arthur-Ophelia) which my BE also thought needed heightened conflict and climax, and he's right.
  • Work on dialogue and narrative style.  This is technically two comments, but they both deal with my overall writing proficiency.  My BE said I need to shorten some of the dialogue to make it more punchy and engaging, and also to pay attention to my point of view.  He says I pull the reader away from the viewpoint characters' impressions by asking a lot of rhetorical questions.  When he called my attention to this, I thought, by golly, he's right.  What I had considered to be a clever little stylistic device was apparently not only ineffective, but distracting.
  • Finally, my BE confirmed that nagging hunch that has been lurking in the back of my mind for some time.  My story would benefit from less viewpoints, and more honed central storyline(s).  And what's more, he wanted to see more of two of my ancillary characters - Rosemarie and Marcus - and thought that their stories could actually carry the novel, with Lila being more clearly defined as the antogonist.  I still have not completely worked out how to go about this shift in narrative vantage points, but one thing I do know is that the change feels right.
One thing has become crystal clear to me by now - this "revision" process is turning into a full blown "re-write."  Anything less would be creating a Frankenstein of a novel; cobbling together new passages and chapters and inserting them into what I already have would doubtlessly create a schism in flow and style (I feel I've grown so much as a writer in these past few months from taking in people's comments, and I'd like to think this will be reflected in my future writing.)  

So now I know what I have to do ... write a whole new book!!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Truth Has Set Me Free! (Part I)

I was down in the city this weekend and had the chance to meet up with one of my Brilliant Editors.  We had limited time, so I said, "Give me the straight story on my book - what doesn't work?"  And he told me.  And it was wonderful.  Basically, one of my viewpoint characters, Ophelia, an African-American woman, is "complete whitewashed garbage" (I think I may have paraphrased his phraseology slightly, but that was the gist of it.)  Now you might think that a statement like this would severely bruise my ego or make me run off and crawl under a rock.  But you'd be dead wrong.  It felt like getting a confirmatory diagnosis on a condition you'd been suspecting you had for a long time.  (FYI, This particular BE is very valuable to me because he is a fellow unpublished novelist.  He's also a heterosexual male and an African-American, which sets him apart from the other four BEs, who are caucasian females.  So his opinion about Ophelia, and my two male viewpoint characters, is worth gold to me.)  

So where does this revelation leave me?  Well, for one thing, it allows me to let go of one of my too-many viewpoint narratives.  Now you might be thinking, why not rise to the challenge and just re-write this character?  I would consider doing this, except that what I'm looking for now is reasons to pare away at narratives.  In other words, my characters are all in a survival-of-the-fittest contest, and any sign of weakness means they're going to get cut away at, or at least marginalized, in the next draft.

Likewise, my BE thought there was an "imbalance of power" between the men and women in my novel.  I've created strong, middle-ground women, but all my men are either too weak or too macho.  He asked, "Where's the relatable guy?"  I thought this was an extremely insightful question, because I do have a middle-ground, everybody's man character - Marcus - except that, apparently the way that he's currently written, he's not coming across that way!  My BE confirmed that, all-in-all, Marcus has a lot of potential, and his narrative could even be heightened so as to make him a protagonist.  So my challenge now is to raise Marcus up to the level of a strong, relatable male worthy of carrying the story.

There were a number of other valid, constructive points my BE shared with me which I'll write about in the next post ("The Truth Has Set Me Free, Part II).  So let me end here with a ...

FIGURING IT OUT AS I GO:  Take your editors by the shoulders if you have to and demand the bare-bones truth from them.  The revision process is no time for ego-stroking praise.  You know you can write.  Now is the time to claw your way above "good amateur writer" status and strive for genius!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Themes and Hooks

I really like a couple of clever techniques I read about in Manuscript Makeover the other night.  Elizabeth Lyon suggests coming up with one word to describe your novel, and then expanding this concept into a sentence that expresses some universal truth.  So here goes ...

The first word that came to my mind was "freedom."  Coming up with a sentence is harder.  I'm going to try a few on for size ... this is a free write, i.e., impromptu and unedited, so don't judge too harshly!

Freedom can be found where you're least likely to look for it or Some prisons cannot be seen by others or True freedom means embracing your past.

Hmm, I may revisit this little exercise later in my revision process. Now onto something that could directly affect the final draft (and the ultimate salability of my novel) ...

Manuscript Makeover also strongly suggests starting your book with a "hook" - that is to say, a first line that grabs the reader and pulls them into the story right away.  I have a tendency to do "soft openings," slowly ramping up to the central drama/through-line during the first chapter.  I'm starting to doubt this wisdom, especially considering that I'm an unpublished author who's going to have a lot to prove.

I find this exercise quite exciting, but I think it's something I shouldn't even consider tackling until I begin re-organizing my manuscript.  I'm considering switching the order of my first and second chapters, because my second chapter, as it currently stands, is the one that throws you into Lila's world and introduces the reader to the Whitakers.  One of my trusted Brilliant Editors said that she wanted to be emersed in this plotline much sooner.  So for now, I'm going to mentally "bookmark" this exercise, and I'll start playing around with some first-line free writes when I start actually re-writing.

FIGURING IT OUT AS I GO:  Try out various quick "free writes" - themes, mantras, first lines, whatever.  They take little time, and might tap into something you've been toying with in the back of your mind, but have yet to put into concrete terms.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Attacking Characterization Head-On!

So I'm halfway through the last main section - characterization - in Manuscript Makeover.  I skimmed much of the plot/pacing/tension chapters, not because I'm so cocky as to think I've got those down pat, but all-in-all, I seem to have pretty good instincts re those elements; using the feedback I've gotten from the 5BE, I can somewhat easily reform the parts that might seem sluggish or inconsequential.

Characters, however, are a whole other ballgame, and apparently I'm not alone in feeling this way.  The book mentioned that many published authors go back and refine character in their later draft(s), so it's good to know that I'm not way off the mark in sensing that I need more work in this area.  I will discuss the specific hurdles and questions that are creeping into my head re the depth of my characters once I actually start rewriting.  For now, I just want to touch on some general points.

An earlier section of Ms. Lyon's revision book discussed the difference between viewpoint and protagonist/central plotline (i.e., you can have multiple viewpoints telling one protagonist's story, without creating protagonists out of those viewpoint narrators).  This is a key issue (potential problem) with my novel.  Currently, I would describe the structure as being parallel plotlines centered around two protagonists (whose lives cross frequently, but who have their own personal journeys, arcs, etc.)  The story is told from 6 viewpoints, 3 per storyline.  All of the viewpoint characters have their own subplots, but these, in my mind at least, advance the two main storylines in some way.

If you're thinking, "Wow that sounds convoluted!" you may well be right.  I believe that I have created a well-paced, compelling work, however, as Manuscript Makeover points out, too many subplots and weighty side characters can diminish the depth and impact of the protagonist and her storyline.  A little voice somewhere inside me is whispering that this is likely the case with my novel!  Now the question is, what to do about it ...

Ms. Lyon suggests that, where you have two protagonists, you treat one of them as the "main one," giving her 3/4ths of the book.  This is a very interesting thought - at this point, I basically give both protagonists equal page time, and then of course, I have all those side character stories ... I have to seriously revisit the structure of my book, not so much for it's ability to tell a compelling tale, but for its merits in regard to presenting rich, 3-dimensional characters.

There is obviously a lot more I can say about all this, but again, I think I will hold off on giving specifics until I am actually in the throws of re-writing.  My goal is to finish the how-to book this week, and hopefully begin my phase 2 research next week (looking over old magazines and visiting the local historical society to get a better feel for life around here in the 1920s).  I sent out an initial questionnaire to the 5BE re some of the points I mentioned in this post, and am starting to get responses, which I will incorporate into my Master Feedback List.  Then comes synthesizing the whole list into an action plan ... argh ... this is starting to sound like work! ;-)

(I'm changing the name of my "Potential Novice Writer Sin" section to something a little less draconian-sounding ...)

FIGURING IT OUT AS I GO:  Know your book and its potential weaknesses!  I think this is the absolute first step in one's revision process.  Know what you have on your hands (and this means learning the basic conventions of novel writing.)  Only then can you decide whether you want to try to break the "rules" or conform your book to fit within them.  I still don't have all the answers in that department, but I feel a bit more confident now that I understand the "risks" I might be taking with some of my choices.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Anything to help inspire ...

This post doesn't really deal directly with revision, but could theoretically be applied to any stage of the writing process.  In short, be original in your means of seeking inspiration.  Along those lines, I wanted to share some "artwork" I did early on in my novel writing endeavors.  Some of you may be thinking, why on earth would a writer waste her time gluing together a collage (okay, two collages) as part of some fantasy that her manuscript actually had a cover jacket?  Well, there's your answer - a little fantasy goes a long way in the inspiration department when you're writing creatively.  You'll see that the first version is rather busy with people; this did wonders for my ability to visualize my main characters interacting during one particular scene early in the book.  

As I reached the halfway point of my writing, I began to feel a cooler, sleeker vibe from my protagonist - she was now no longer a country girl, but a city pseudo-sophisticate.  So I 
cobbled together Jacket Cover #2 to reflect this transformation.  

Who knows what cover art I'll come up with once I start actually revising my novel!

POTENTIAL NOVICE WRITER SIN:  Don't be stifled by the conventions of creativity ... sure, free-writes are wonderful, but if you feel like composing a song to your writing, baking a cake your protagonist might make, or slapping together a jacket cover collage, go for it!  Getting all your senses involved can only help your writing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Backstory and Full Speed Ahead ...

I know I said I wouldn't be doing this everyday, and ultimately, I won't be.  But I'm finding this whole blogging process incredibly relaxing, as well as clarifying and motivating in regard to the task at hand.  My husband asked, "Shouldn't you just use the time it takes to write your blog to actually revise your book?"  I, of course, ignored the question.  ;-)  I really do believe this serves a valid purpose, because it's enabling me to put my revision goals into concrete terms.

More on that in a minute ...  But first, in case this blog ever gets any readers, I feel I owe those readers a bit of backstory on the novel itself, so that I can speak in short hand in the future about the changes I intend to make.  So here goes a brief, rough pitch:

"The Whitaker Boys" is a period novel set in upstate New York and Manhattan in the late 1920s.  The book is told in 3rd person limited through the eyes of 6 characters whose lives are all somehow intertwined.  ...

So you're probably thinking, "Well that pitch sure could not have been more vague," and you're right.  I'm not intentionally trying to hide anything, but the truth is, I'm not exactly sure how to describe the plot.  Seeing as this is not a "Pitching to an Agent" blog, I won't pursue this discussion at the moment.  However it does segue nicely into one of the first points I have taken away from what I've read so far in Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon.  The reason I can't easily launch into a plot summary is because I have two distinct plot lines which, though interconnected by familial relationships, each has their own climax and resolution.  Let me try to summarize both and see if I have any luck ...

The novel follows headstrong Lila Payton on her quest for freedom, stardom and, more elusively, fulfillment. Meanwhile, Lila's reclusive aunt Cora struggles to maintain secrets which have given her tortured life some appearance of normalcy.

Ok, not only is that lousy writing, but it still sounds so horribly generic and uninviting.  I'm not going to beat up on myself for failing to master the perfect pitch (there will be plenty of time for working on that later).  But what my stumbling and hesitation tells me is that I may indeed have committed a POTENTIAL NOVICE WRITER SIN which the revision book addresses.  It says to have no more than than 3 developed characters telling your story.  As painful a pill as this is for me to swallow, I think it is a very valid point.  The real question now (and which I will have to present to the 5BE) is "Is my use of 6 vantage points daring and innovative or a glaring beginners' mistake?"  TBD ... !

(Ok, here's a new feature I'm going to add to the blog - a "practice tip" series, if you will ...)

POTENTIAL NOVICE WRITER SIN:  "Too many viewpoint characters, which for many novices is more than three, can mean that story lines cut one another off. ... Use as few characters as will accomplish the needs of your story and genre, and increase their relatedness. ... Employ as few developed viewpoint characters as possible."  Elizabeth Lyon, Manuscript Makeover, p. 77.

Monday, September 7, 2009

What I plan to accomplish with this blog

Ok, so this is starting to sound a little like a high school research paper already ... I promise to curb that quick!  But I do want to lay out the purpose and general structure of this blog, for my own benefit, it no one else's.  As I think I alluded to yesterday, I'm doing this as a way to motivate myself to stay on track with my novel revision process.  I had no problem staying motivated while writing, but that was because it was all so creative.  This feels much more like work to me for some reason.  (Hopefully once I'm in the thick of it, it will feel creative again.)

The plan for this blog:  
  • To chronicle my novel revising journey by offering others helpful tips and lessons-learned -the-hard-way on how to go about it.  My goal is to blog at least once a week, because let's face it, nobody is going to want to read a day-by-day account of this process!
The plan for revising my manuscript:
  1. Read the relevant chapters of the "how to revise your novel" book that my mom was so considerate as to get me.  I probably would not have even considered such a thing had she not thought of it, and I'm hoping it will make this whole process seem a bit more approachable and cohesive.  And by relevant chapters, I mean the stuff that I think applies to my particular writing skills (and lack thereof).  After receiving a substantial amount of feedback from my amazingly sharp friends, I have come to learn that I definitely have certain strengths (relatable characters, plot, pacing, structure) but I also have clear weaknesses (tendencies toward predictability, tone, scene-setting, and my biggest challenge ... showing not telling!)
  2. Go back and do more research.  Because I'm working on a period piece, this is, of course, essential.  While I did a multitude of research while I was writing (any time I had even a vague doubt as to the accuracy of something, I researched it), most of that was done on the internet, with only a few calls to local historical societies and the like.  My next step is to plant myself in the county historical society one morning and not emerge until I have stumbled upon some previously unknown gem of information.  I also plan to browse the historical magazines that 2 members of my 5 Brilliant Editors team have recommended.
  3. Now is a good time to explain the role of my 5BE team.  I have five dear friends who have taken the time to not only read my book, but to patiently provide me with detailed feedback on what they read.  They have also agreed to help me through the revision process by acting as a sounding board for my new ideas.  Which leads me to step 3 ... I will periodically be emailing the 5BE team questions based on the feedback they have already provided, as well as whatever new inspiration pops into my mind.
  4. Re-read my manuscript with a thick red pen in hand.  This step is pretty self-explanatory.
  5. Start revising.  Hopefully what this actually entails will be clearer to me once I come to this step.
You may have noticed that I have not created any deadlines.  This goes against my nature somewhat, as I was all about strict deadlines when I was writing.  I've decided to approach the re-write a little differently.  Of course I have to get started and stick to it, but I'm going to give myself a little breathing room if I feel I need it.  That's another reason why this blog is useful ... if I find myself writing "Not much to report" for 3 weeks in a row, I'll be shamed into getting off my lazy bum and doing something blogworthy the following week!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Day 1 of thinking about revising my novel

Hello and welcome to the blog I have created to stay motivated to revise my 400 page novel over the next 12 months!  Here's a very brief backstory on how I arrived at this point:  I've wanted to be a writer since I was 5 years old and did a retelling of Snow White in orange crayon.  Fast forward 26 years (and past several graduate degrees in professions that involved writing, but not novel writing) when I suddenly found myself laid off and with a lot of time on my hands.  My husband and I began spending more and more time in our upstate NY fixer-upper and less and less time in the city, and I found myself becoming very inspired by the rolling hills and old farmhouses and steeple churches all around.  My imagination led me back in time to the 1920s and "The Whitaker Boys" was born.  I wrote diligently from February to June of this year, and then sent my work off to my very literate friends, who have begun giving me constructive feedback.  While the book seems to be a crowd-pleaser, there's no getting around the inevitable - it still needs a lot of work.  And while I felt relatively comfortable with the writing process, having gone through it 2x now (I wrote my first - unpublished - novella the year before this one, while I was still working fulltime), I have yet to attempt a rewrite.  And I'll be perfectly honest with you ... I find the thought of the whole thing more than a little daunting.  That's why I'm starting this blog ... so I have an outlet for my frustrations, because I'm sure there will be many, and maybe, just maybe, someone out there will be going through the same thing, and can offer me words of wisdom and encouragement (and hopefully I can do the same!)  So stay tuned as I start pacing myself for one of the more strenuous mental marathons I have engaged in to date! ...