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Posts Tagged ‘re-reading’

For my writing friends…

I clawed my uninspired way through four pages of text yesterday. Of course, as I sat down to watch the Olympics at the end of the day, what did I discover? That I needed to rewrite most of it. That’s the creative process for you. It bloats your head with illusions of success, only to pull the chair out of from underneath you when you try to rest. Creativity is a ruthless master.

I was filled with sorrow, so I logged a little extra time before bed and cleaned up the project. Re-reading it today, I am completely assured that I made the right decision. I beam with pride at the accomplishments of a snow day, how creativity was finally made to bend to the will of a deadline, instead of the other way around. After all, when creativity plays nicely, it is a powerful and majestic ally.

Re-writing is a big part of writing. I would like to always get it right the first time, but, rather like life, that’s more than rare. We learn something when we fall flat on our faces and rise to try again. From entirely scrapped projects, to smaller  rewrites, to bestselling novels, there are no words that are wasted.

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I spent about five days trying to get myself out of the latest writing jam. Reviewing where my characters had gone and would go, writing notes and outlines, chatting with said characters at all hours, re-reading relevant parts of my last novel. And finally there was only one place to go. So I wrote the section and am picking up speed again. Let’s hope the road blocks get fewer and farther between.

Have you heard that phrase, “Make your job your dream and you’ll never work a day in your life”? Personally, I think that is a statement full of lies, with more potential to discourage discerning hopefuls than to encourage them. See, marriage is a dream but one I know will be full of hard, hard work and occasional hurt. Friendships are worthwhile, but I’ll cry over every one that matters. Kids–oh my, they do make life fulfilling, but they take a crazy amount of work. Why should a dream job be any different?

There are days and weeks when doing my job feels like the sweet dream it was meant to be. But there are many more days. Days of plot line hurdles and writers block and negative reviews. Days of staying up late to meet a deadline and saying no to going out with friends to meet yet another deadline. Days to rewrite blocks of work and sore backs from leaning over a laptop. Days of doing law homework in-between speaking engagements and friends never knowing where in the world you are. Days of scraping together fifty cents for a hot apple cider and of wondering where the money will come. Days of cold calls. Days of facing fears. Days of failure.

See, little does the statement about the dream job know: success would not feel like success without those days. Without the days when I applied for other jobs because the dream just wasn’t panning out. Days when I nearly quit. Days when I chose to stick to the dream because it was worth the hurt.

Next time you think about your dream job and consider all the work that will go into it, remember: it is that hard work which makes the dream sweet. It’s not a dream, it’s not a life, if it’s not worth fighting for.

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Backtracking in a story is dangerous for me, but is also fairly frequently required. As I get further into a book, I often realize I left something important out. Let’s say I am in chapter 11 when I realize that I forgot something in chapter 3. While I could go back and fill in the blanks at the end of the book, making sure I follow a logical progression for the characters during my draft is important. I may need to introduce an aspect in my backtracked chapter 3, that I would have put in incorrectly in my next chronological chapter 11, and this can give me major headaches. So foregoing chapter 11 and writing chapter 3’s missing piece is the better solution. The problem with backtracking is I can get lost back in chapter 3, and where the characters were then. The solution, to re-read. But now that my book is at 70 pages, that is a major undertaking.

I don’t have a word of friendly advice to you on the subject, fellow writers, except do what you have to do to keep your story intact. If you realize you left something out and you can safely put it in later, then stay focused on the present and ignore the past. But if it is central to the plot, the chapter, the characters, or the morale of the story, then go back and fix your problem. Never be afraid to re-read. You cannot do it too often, as it will keep the story and the characters and the intensity fresh in your mind.

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