Nothing is Sacred

This November I’m planning on re-writing last year’s NaNoWriMo novel. I am amazed and terrified to see how many things have changed for this story over the course of a year. I know this is a good thing, because first drafts usually are full of cliches and bad ideas, with a few hidden gems. But it’s hard not to second guess the decision to make these changes.

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I used to write a first draft and consider the story almost done. I cringe to remember how proud I was of some of those first drafts. But they were important stepping stones and there were some great ideas, but I now see that all those stories would need serious reworking before they saw the light of day. I’ve learned that editing is more than proofreading and re-writing a scene here and there. You have to be willing to rework characters, plot arcs, and concepts which seemed essential in the first draft. The truth is that nothing is sacred in a first draft. Everything is subject to change.

Hopefully these changes will strengthen my novel and move me closer to publishing.

I wish all the NaNoWriMo participants the best of luck. I’ll see you at the finish line!

Now it’s time to stop procrastinating and get back to planning for November.

~~Lady of the Pen~~

Hard Truths

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I’ve been working on editing and polishing my novel ‘Train to Everywhere,’ which I wrote during NaNoWriMo back in November. When I finished the 2nd draft I was high on writing. I’d never gone beyond the first draft of a book before and I was thrilled. I felt that the end was insight. I just needed to make a few more changes, polish up a scene here and there and I’d be done. I could upload it onto Amazon and show it to the world!

But as I’ve gotten a little distance from the 2nd draft I’ve begun to realize that it still has issues. I tried to deny how much work it really needed. A couple of friends had read it and loved it, but part of me knew they weren’t thinking critically enough. But recently I finally got a critical opinion from one of my friends and she confirmed what I already knew, that the story still needs a lot of work.

Accepting this has given me a lot of freedom. Before I didn’t want to make major changes, so I was trying to patch up problems when what they needed was reworking. But now I’m not looking at the story as a solid piece of work, but a number of elements. Elements which can be changed, rearranged or cut of necessary.

So while I’m disappointed that I still have a long way to go on this novel, I’m excited by the possibilities it allows me.

Wish me luck!

~~Lady of the Pen~~

We’re All Mad Here

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I have completed a 2nd draft of my novel, ‘Train to Everywhere,’ that I am relatively happy with and very nearly lost what little sanity I had left in the process. In the last week or two I’ve gone from 3 to 4 hour writing sessions to 5-6 hour sessions, I’ve been writing/editing on all my days off and much of my free time. I’ve never become so engrosses in a writing project, at the end I would say I was probably obsessed. Not that this is the end, it is merely the 2nd draft, but I intend on taking a little break and try not to panic while my beta readers go over my story. I really do need a break too. Over the last few days I’ve been talking to myself far more than usual, to the point of having argument with myself. I’ve been drinking too much coffee and I’m pretty sure my language has been going down hill, something that only happens when I’m really really worked up. The other day I had so much energy and so many voices running through my head I had to sprint up and down the hall and stairs to get myself under control. Despite the intensity of the last few days, I’ve never been so excited or terrified of a project I’m working on, all of which I take as good signs. This is the first 2nd draft of a novel I’ve produced and the first time I’ve really gotten into editing. I now realize that the first draft is only a warm up, I truly got into my story and my characters when I went back and revisited them, questioned them, asked them about their motivation, rethought my settings and added more detail. I think my reservations about editing are falling away, it’s a rather wondrous process.

I must say I’m scared stiff to let others read this story and once again I take this as a good sign, I usually don’t worry about things being perfect, I’m normally quite happy to let others read my stories even in their raw forms. But this story has been different, I’ve been more secretive about it and didn’t let anyone read draft one. I believe this means that I delved deeper into this story, taken a few more risks and put more heart and soul into it.

This has been a very eye opening experience. I now intend to rest, visit a few friends I’ve been neglecting and catch up on my reading. Because once the feedback is in it will be time for round 3!

~~Lady of the Pen~~

Editing

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I use a purple pen.

Editing has never been my strong suit. I used to just celebrate if I managed to finish something and basically felt that I was done and eagerly moved on to the next project. As I’ve gotten older, more experienced as a writer, and more serious about getting published the realization that I actually have to edit what I write has weighed heavily on me.

I hated the idea of editing. “I should be done.” “I don’t want to change things,” “I barely want to proofread,” “I just wanted to work on my next great idea.”

The problem is I was constantly chasing after my newest greatest idea and leaving a trail of decrepit stories in my wake that could be made whole with a lot of love and attention.

Over time I’ve slowly learned me lesson. I managed to get to a point where I didn’t hate editing, then almost enjoying it. This year I’ve made it my focus to edit my novel from last November instead of moving on to something else and I’m actually starting to enjoy editing. It seems so overwhelming when I first start and I can’t imagine how I’ll do it. But then I start reading and I start making little notes, which turn into longer notes and suddenly I’m cutting out scenes and putting in new ones and I’m getting excited. Excited that I’m making the story better, that I’m learning to understand my characters and their motivation and what the stories really about.

So I seem to finally be getting the editing thing, which is good, considering I’m hoping to publish this story.

I hope you guys have had a less rocky path to understanding the importance of editing. What are techniques and strategies you use in your editing? (I hope that didn’t sound too much like the teacher at the end of a children’s Bible story.)

~~Lady of the Pen~~

Happy Post Christmas!

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Happy Post Christmas everyone! I hope you had a lovely holiday. 

Mine was great. My favorite gift has to be the Lord of the Rings Lego set I was given. It’s awesome! It’s the pirate ship from the Return of the King, I’m still working on putting it together, it’s quite the job. Some might say I’m too old for Legos, but I’m a writer and a Lord  of the Rings fanatic, so never too old! 

My favorite gift I gave was the Christmas story I wrote and recorded for my nieces. This is the second year I’ve done it and I’m hoping to make it a tradition. It was difficult to buckle down and write another story after NaNoWriMo, especially since I’m not quite done with that story yet. But it was worth it. And now I can get back to my NaNo story. My goal is to finish it by the New Year and spend 2014 editing it. Please feel free to give me a kick if I get off track. 

What goals have everyone else set for the coming year? I intend to make it my editing year, while possibly working on a story on the side. But I really want to make editing my focus, because it’s always been a weak area for me. I need to finish stories and then edit them, not finish them and let them collect virtual dust on my computer.

I wish myself and everyone else the best of luck with their new years goals.

Happy New Year

~~Lady of the Pen~~