Jul 08 2009

Learning experience (or, revising really is fun!)

Back and recovering from the trip like a tired, aching thing. Still much work to be done, just doing what parts I can do while sitting around and resting for today. Now on to the interesting stuff…

I’m entering in the last round of edits for “…Elmer the Cat” today in preparation for sending it off. This has been a profound learning experience from start to finish. In the first draft, I had the voice of the narrator so clearly in my head that writing the story was quick and much more linear than many of my stories. It’s been through 6 readers and several revision rounds, including an awesome workshopping that I think I already mentioned, with Steve and Nathan (and Kendra sitting in) up at 4th Street. Had another deep session with Nathan on the plane back, and I think one of the biggest signs that I had to be done with working on it for now was that in some of my own editing suggestions, I’d moved far enough away from it that I was starting to lose the voice that had come through so clearly in draft 1. Happily, Nathan caught most of those and I do think the result is a tighter story. I certainly hope I can get this one published, and already have three or four places lined up to send it to, so we’ll see how it goes.

While I’m trying to remember to take the time to appreciate my accomplishments, there’s more writing to be done! Already a full to-do list today, with catching up on emails to be written at the top of the list. (Also, trolling the trunk for salvageable stories, and jumping the next hurdle of brainstorming so that I can move on with the novel work. And updating the to-do list, hehe.)

Another experience in learning my writing attitudes and routines recently has been quite nifty. I stopped working on the novel for a bit to focus on “…Elmer the Cat”, and thought (rather casually) that I was having a slack-off moment on the novel, being a lazier writer than I really want to be. However, since I’ve been working on letting my head move more at the pace it wants to go, I didn’t struggle too much to self-castigate and just enjoyed the short story work — and my, did I enjoy it! Even as much as it pushed my limits I loved every bit of this latest short story, from brainstorming to drafting to final-for-now revision. (Though I agree with my stepmom Mary, that there’s no such thing as a final draft, you can always go back and revise or rework a piece whenever you feel it needs it.)

And in the process, figured out that the reason I was hesitating on the novel work wasn’t slacking off at all, but a wall needing smashed in regards to a (very good) editing suggestion I received from the marvelous Ella, that I needed more definition of time/space/place. And I agreed with her thought, and realized that not having some of that defined was part of what was slowing me down in this second draft — and that the faster I got to codifying that, the less of this draft I’d have to go back and re-write from the ground up later. Saving future me work is definitely a goal of mine, so my other learning experience this week was a more subtle layer of trusting my writing process/hindbrain, that even apparent laziness might actually be a useful break to regroup and rethink. Also, knowing which hurdle it is that I’m jumping this time is invigorating to the desire to dive back into the work.

For anyone reading who wants to join in, feel free to comment on any of the above or jump into this discussion: What sort of experience have you had with your work or craft recently where your own process surprised you by working outside of your expectations?

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Learning experience (or, revising really is fun!)”

  1. Bradon 10 Jul 2009 at 2:38 am

    I surprised myself completely by going to 4th street at all last year for the first time (I distinctly remember talking about going with some friends and saying that at the worst, I’d have a nice 4 day vacation from work, expecting to be bored and wondering what I was doing there). I have Steve to blame and thank for that. I never thought that I’d enjoy what goes on on the other side of the page, so to speak. It’s opened up whole new channels on several fronts..

    … new people to get to know and enjoy being around.
    … new ways to enjoy the written word, buy helping others polish theirs.
    … helping me realize that sometimes it’s worth stopping to actually think about whats been written rather than just absorbing and moving on.
    … gotta be more, but that’s more than a brain full all by itself.

    Going this year was a no-brainer. 🙂

    As always, it was great spending time with you and the gang… and this year I’m going to make a point of traveling to more conventions that you guys are attending.


  2. Reesaon 27 Jul 2009 at 9:29 am

    Yes it was great hanging out with you and your folks, thanks for commenting! I’m trying to get better about responding to comments, especially when I’m trying to incite an atmosphere of discussion. That’s really cool about 4th street not only surprising you but affecting your reading experience in positive ways.

    I know cognitive dissonance disturbs many folk, but I usually find it exciting and inspiring, especially when unexpected. I’m really looking forward to next year’s 4th street!