Sep 20, 2010

Learning to let go

Laptop computer with yellow legal pad, pen and books Royalty Free Stock Photo

I have a major problem. Well, it isn't a major problem, but it's one that I'd much rather focus on instead of everything else that I've been dealing with lately.

Do I take the time and energy to edit and revise my finished novel - one that I'm not going to do anything with other than consider it practice, or do I forge ahead and continue with my research and basic plotting of my next novel? Here's the dilemma: I acknowledge and understand the importance of rewrites. No one writes a perfect first draft. I know this from my career as a grant writer. I used to pressure myself to write the perfect first draft, but inevitably, no matter how long I held onto that grant and tweaked and searched for just the right words, my boss would return it covered in red pen. I learned to write a draft and get it to her as soon as possible, because no matter what, I'd have to revise. I understand that it's also part of the learning curve when it comes to writing fiction. It's an important step and I need to learn how to do it. Right now, I have no clue how to tackle this thing. Parts of it are utter garbage, while other sections are beautifully descriptive. I know where the gaps are and I know that it's going to take a lot of work to make it something I would let someone read (even my sister or husband). I don't mind doing the work, but I'd really like to start Novel #2 to coincide with the start of NaNoWriMo 2010 - November 1st, and there's no way I can revise my first novel and get myself prepared for the second novel in a little over four weeks.

I don't want to abandon this novel because I'm proud, not necessarily of what is written on all those pages, but because I actually did it. I do believe that the idea I have for the second novel is much stronger. I think the characters are better developed and overall I think the plot is more interesting. Maybe I should just look at the first novel as practice. An experiment. An example of my persistence and drive. Maybe I should put it away and focus on the second novel. I toy with the idea of doing both - revising for the next couple of weeks and then researching/plotting the second half of October, but I don't think my brain can handle it. I feel rushed and that is coming through in the revision process. Sure I can edit all the grammar and move around a few sections, but I haven't really delved into the true revisions - making my characters stronger, adding or cutting subplots, ramping up the conflict, etc. That not only takes time, it takes thought. It takes focus and concentration, and I don't feel like I'm willing to give that right now. I think I'd rather take that energy and put it into a better idea.

I really feel like I'm skipping a step in the novel-writing process. Kind of like I'm collecting my $200 without crossing Go. I feel as though other writers will look at me and say, "You can't move on to a second novel when you really haven't finished the first." I also feel a little sad to be giving up on this novel. I like it, but I don't love it. With everything going on in our lives right now, I don't feel like I have the time and energy to spend on something I don't feel passionate about.  Maybe someday I'll go back to it, but I think that the more I write - the more experience I get and more I learn about the craft - I won't feel so bad about letting it go.

So here's to a new idea and the next novel.

Sep 17, 2010

Too tired and too stressed to think of a clever title

So I haven't blogged in a while. It's been over seven days, but who's counting? Here's the truth. I could come here every day, or even every other day, and write something. Anything. But I don't want to force myself to do that when I don't have anything to say, and I definitely don't want to make anyone come here every day and read whatever nonsense I write because I didn't really have anything to say. But isn't that exactly what I'm doing right now? Eh. Whatever.

Here are some very valid reasons (in my humble opinion) for my recent blogging hiatus:

I work for a non-profit child care agency that helps low- and moderate-income families with their child care. I write grants and do all the PR and craft an annual fundraising plan and coordinate special events. This year is our 40th anniversary and we are not only hosting a celebration, we were kind of pushed into launching an endowment campaign. Basically, we are trying to raise about $1 million. Needless to say I've been swamped. The event is in less than two weeks and I've encountered almost daily migraines. Blogging is being put on the back burner until life returns to normal.

We have a teenager and a toddler at home. Need I say more? Yes? OK, well did you know that in the state of Iowa, you only have to be 14 to get a driver's permit? Duncan will hit that magic age in about four weeks. Add to that the fact that Griffin has been battling his asthma issues and we've been battling him with his tantrums. Really Griffin? You seriously need to wear pants when you leave the house. Wearing a shirt and a diaper is not negotiable.

I'll keep this one short and sweet. Patrick is still unemployed. We're living off of my non-profit salary, unemployment, and our tax refund. Being depressed and being at home with another depressed person is, well, it's depressing.

See the previous categories for an explanation.

My blogging will continue to be sporadic, at least until this huge special event is behind me. Only another couple of weeks and hopefully I will be back with more positive things to talk about - like NaNoWriMo, a description of the painful process of editing the first draft of a novel, and of course a discussion of our Halloween 2010 plans (you didn't think we wouldn't come up with another great family costume idea, did you?).

Edited to add: No one really reads this, so I have no idea who I think I'm talking to in this post.

Sep 7, 2010

Book Review - More Than It Hurts You

More Than It Hurts YouMore Than It Hurts You by Darin Strauss

I'm not sure how I feel about this book just yet. First, it's a tough topic (muchausen by proxy) and deals with an 8-month old baby who is gravely ill. Not easy to read about when you have a little one at home. Second, the writing is a bit choppy at times. I have issues with reading things that don't flow. Third, I don't know how I feel about the main characters. The father is not all that sympathetic. In fact, he lets his wife make all the decisions...and she's more concerned about what the docs think of her than she is about her baby. How can I read this book if I don't like anyone (aside from the baby)? I'm going to give it a few more chapters.

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