Editing Woes and the Run-Up To NaNoWriMo ’10

At first I didn’t care about it. It was to be a one-and-done deal.

Then I cared a little more. Two. That’s it.

Now I’m seriously considering a third round of edits to my NaNoWriMo ’09 novel, not because I feel like this book is moving anywhere toward a publishable realm, but because as I’m working my way through writing the second draft (which I expect to grow nearly 50 pages from the first draft), I keep telling myself there are things that I will focus on next time through. I’m finding that, at least for me, focusing on one or two specific trouble areas (showing vs. telling, say) is what I’m going to need to do. I’ve been able to fix some of the show vs. tell problem spots, but certainly not all of them. This round of edits has been about organizing and clarifying. It’s about getting things where I want them to be (and moving things around, which I talked about in a recent post) and then working on more fine-tuning.

My pacing was pretty good. The past few weeks, however, have slowed me down considerably as I’ve had a number of engagements and obligations and other things to keep me abnormally busy. My goal since January has been to have the first/second edits (in my mind they’re different, but to some people they’d be the same) completed by the end of October – ideally well before the end of October – so that I could put it aside and move on to my next NaNo project.

But alas.

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My Novel: A 100,000 Word Jig-Saw Puzzle

I’m just about halfway through editing the manuscript of the first draft of my novel. I’ve written more extensively about my editing process before, but the long and short of it (for new readers or those who missed it before) is that I printed off the first draft and went through it for months with a pen and wrote myself notes, made corrections, crossed things out, drew arrows, and things of that nature. That was also my first true reading of the novel.

Now I’m taking that manuscript and reading it a second time, only now I’m doing it while writing the second draft. I went back to square one. I’m not editing in the document, I’m straight up re-typing everything. I’m glad I’m doing this because it’s helping me catch errors and I’m seeing where plot lines need to be developed. It’s tiresome at times, but I don’t let myself copy and paste anything from the original document. I don’t even open it up. Sometimes I’ll go through material that I didn’t mark in the manuscript, but as I’m retyping, I’ll think to myself that it still needs work and I’ll end up making changes. This is why I continue to love my editing process (which is good, since I’m the one using it). I’m always “getting it” just a little bit more. And by “it”, I mean that je ne sais quoi that comes with writing, which is so multi-faceted. Continue reading

Getting My Editing Groove On

Being that I never really took my writing all that seriously before (at least, not when I was old enough to *actually* take it seriously. Sixth grade doesn’t count), I didn’t really have a method in place for editing. In college, my idea of editing creative writing was to take all the copies of my work that were given back to me in workshops, go through, and make a few changes. I really didn’t put a lot of time and effort into it. I attribute this to many things, and as I’ve mentioned before, a lot of it had to do with losing that spark (on account of being a busy college student and also coming to despise the egomaniac who was teaching the majority of my fiction classes). I never went back through and took a good look at what I’d written because I never cared much about most of it. I only really remember a handful of pieces.

The whole time I was writing my NaNoWriMo novel, I didn’t think about editing. My goal was just to get to 50,000 words. Once I made it there, my goal became to actually finish writing it. I was a little unsure for a while, but when it became clear that I was going to finish writing it, I started thinking about editing. I guess my pattern of decision-making has been kind of linear in that respect. I ended up leading myself right into a process of editing that I hadn’t considered, but it’s working out really well for me. It’s forcing me to not only go back through my work, but to interact with it, as well. Continue reading

Mission: Editing – Accomplished.

Maybe it’s part of my process that I take a lengthy hiatus from what I’m doing. I took a pretty long break as I was writing my novel, but after a few months I went back to it. I started off really strong with doing my first round of edits on my first draft…. and then I stopped. It wasn’t as bad as the writing break – I’d still do some editing here and there, but a few weeks ago I finally gave myself a proverbial kick in the pants to get working on it.

It’s fitting, then, that I finished writing my novel at 3 a.m., and last night/this morning, I finished doing the first round of edits at 3 a.m., as well.

Now I’m once again faced with the “What next?” question. I already planned to do another round of edits on this one as I go from the paper copy back to the computer, but then what? Hopefully I’ll be able to get myself to work at a pace that will allow me to be finished in time to participate in NaNoWriMo ’10 this year (or at least in a good place to work on both). But what then? Continue reading

Someone’s Writing Again (Hint: It’s Me)

I told you last week that I’d be back with new posts about writing. Lucky for you, I make good on my promises. I have this post to write now, and another one already working its way to the front of my brain. Look for it in a day or so.

A while back, I got all excited because I finished my novel. To be more exact, I finished the first draft of it. I had and continue to have the best of intentions regarding the editing process, but despite my initial enthusiasm and the purple editing pens that I love, I have a hard time getting myself to actually actively edit. I’ll go on editing sprints that span a few days, and then nothing for weeks. I just haven’t been able to find my stride with it. I had it printed and bound because I can’t edit directly on a computer screen. I need to flip back and forth between physical pages and put sticky notes all through it. I like being able to see what I’m changing. It’s helping me develop an eye for my own work, which is something I’ve always struggled with. It’s helping me gain more confidence in myself as a writer. It’s helping me understand Craft (with a capital C).

It’s making me hate my novel.

Recently, I was talking to a friend about this. He told me that he and other writers he’s talked to experience this. As they revise, they hate it less. I’m hoping this happens for me, because I’m starting to fear that I’m going to abandon my beloved novel. As soon as I write that, I know I won’t do it because I don’t typically quit that easily. I will whine and complain and bitch and moan about it to anyone who will listen. I’ll shed tears. And then I’ll stand up with Beyonce and keep on survivin’. Continue reading

In the Books: On Finishing My Novel

I know I haven’t been blogging much lately. I think you’ll understand why, though.

I was sitting here thinking about how I have trouble finishing things, but then it occurred to me that it’s not really true. I can think of fewer than five books that I’ve never finished and don’t intend to. Even when they’re really bad or boring, I try to slog my way through them. I tried to quit softball after 6th grade when I should have been moving up from pigtail to ponytail league. I was afraid that it was going to be more difficult and I’d look stupid. About a quarter of the way into that first summer, I told myself to suck it up and go back to practice, so I did, and I played until I was getting ready to leave for college. I waited a whole year of being unhappy at my first real-world job before I quit that, and I agonized so long over my decision to quit calculus in college that I missed the drop/add deadline and took a voluntary F. And when I say I agonized over that decision, I mean that I found myself in the Dean of Students’ office nearly in tears.

So I guess I don’t quit well. Continue reading