Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Edits, Eyebags, and Epiphanies

In an effort to keep up my writerly mystique (I'm very mystique-ulous, right?), I haven't talked much about my writing process with The Sequel. Part of that was also because the one time I mentioned I was having a hard time both my agent and my editor contacted me, panicked and worried. I try to avoid panicking them--ever--and so mum I remain if I'm in a rough patch.

The other part, of course, is that I always feel guilty if I sound at all whiny on the blog because, hey, I'm getting paid to write. This is so ridiculous and awesome I still sometimes shake my head in utter incredulity when it hits me.

But The Sequel was tricky. Part of it was the pressure (turns out writing sequels is tough, yo), and part of it was that, unlike when I was writing my previous books, I couldn't get obsessed. There were too many other things tugging at my attention, too many times I had to stop to go tweak something on Paranormalcy, or get something back to Erica. But eventually I got a working first draft.

Problem: It was short. Way, way too short. And lately, when I sat down to edit, it was with this gnawing dread in my stomach that I wouldn't know what to add or how to make what I had (which was good) become more cohesive (and therefore much better).

Then, Saturday, as I stood in a shower that was both way too hot and way too long, it hit me.

The solution. THE SOLUTION.

I think that feeling is one of the best in writing. Whether a new idea hits you, or you break past a stumbling block, or you figure out that scene--that one scene--that opens up the rest of the story like magic. And just like that I was excited again. Instead of dreading the work, I couldn't wait to get to the library. Over the course of the weekend I met my manuscript word count goal. And lo, there was much rejoicing and relief in the land.

What's funny is that I had the opposite problem with Paranormalcy--I had to cut ten thousand words from that one before it was ready to be seen. I had to add ten thousand words to The Sequel. I never make the same mistake twice--I keep coming up with new and innovative ways to really screw things up!

It's a talent, what can I say.

Anyway. The point of this is, writing is hard. It's always hard. But the real point of this is that, even though it's hard, I'm having fun again. And staying up way too late, which triggers my kids' Instinctive Sleep Alarms, forcing them to wake up once an hour every hour for the precious few hours I actually spend in bed.

Why is it that the better my writing is going, the bigger the bags under my eyes?

37 comments:

Natalie Whipple said...

I'm so thrilled you're having fun again, because The Sequel is wonderful! And it's even more wonderful now:)

Rebecca Knight said...

I'm so excited for you! You're right--that is the BEST feeling when it all starts coming together :).

Congrats on your progress, and good luck!

Rachel said...

I'm happy you've been able to part ways with your angst! It does sound like a tremendous load of pressure, and such a relief to come out of it with a work you're pleased with.

By the way, since you're the writer, can you tell me how to not end that sentence with "with" and not sound dorky? Two withs in the same sentence is too much for me.

Whirlochre said...

Sometimes you just get covered with barnacles and cease to glide through the water like you used to (and can't you tell I've just been over to Natalie's and seen her glorious mermaid?).

But then you debarnacle, and all is as it was. Sometimes you can buck the process, other times you simply have to rely on fate. Or showers.

Candice said...

That's great. I think when you're having fun writing something it shows and readers are more likely to enjoy reading it.

Jordan (MamaBlogga) said...

I'm getting solutions left and right lately as I (re) edit my MS. (Again. WHY DIDN'T I LISTEN THE FIRST TIME?!)

It's almost as good as getting things right the first time ;) .

Kayeleen said...

I think the bags are a universal constant, like in math where you learn about pi and e. Somewhere there's probably a theorem that reads "the amount of sleep (s) is inversely proportional to the amount of creativity (c), divided by the number of children squared."

Or I just pulled that out of my head. High school math was a while ago.

It's great to find inspiration, to know you are doing something great and creative, that only you can do. Yay!

Debbie (Nerd Goddess) said...

Hooray! That's so great you figured it out. :) I think I'm more prone to the problem of too-few words than too many. Or at least, that's what my writing experience thus far tells me.

Mariah Irvin said...

The Solution! 'Tis a marvelous thing.

Andrea Cremer said...

Woo-hoo! I love lightbulb moments. And while I know it wasn't what you needed at the time, I think it's sweet that your editor and agent came rushing to your aid when you were in dire straits :)

Abby Stevens said...

Did you need to add 10,000 words to the sequel because it was so short it was a novella, or because you felt it was too short in regard to pacing or...?

My book is 65,000 words. It may grow a little longer as I am still editing, but I sometimes wonder if this is too short. Then again, (not saying mine is) but some of the best books I've ever read are short.

inthewritemind said...

Awesome! I love those epiphanies--I nearly always get mine in the shower too. Don't know what it is about the shower, but it seems to stimulate those creative juices for many writers.

Mireyah Wolfe said...

YAY for excited writing!!! Awww for large bags under the eyes.

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEE for the SEQUEL!!! (with a little added "EEEK" of excitement. *grin*)

JamieKate said...

I think lots of writers are going through rough patches now. Or at least it seems that way. And hey, I say you're allowed to whine all you like just because your whining is fun to read. :D

Jamie

Ann Elle Altman said...

When my writing is going well, I have bags too. I cant seem to get my brain to shut off. A few days later, I collapse... but it's a good collapse.

ann

Kristan said...

I had this kind of a weekend too... In a way, it's comforting to know it will probably still happen when I'm agented and published. In another way, it's depressing, lol. (But mostly it's comforting, no worries!)

Glad you worked it out and I can't WAIT to read both Paranormalcy AND The Sequel!

Falen said...

I love The Solution. I like to think of it as my muse, sucker puncnhing me right in the gut

Myrna Foster said...

I'm so glad you found the Solution. I just wrote my way out of a rough patch of writing last night, and I'm much more excited to pick it up today.

How many words are your books?

Bethany Mattingly said...

Yay! I love having those moments when everything suddenly comes together.

Kiersten White said...

Kayeleen--That math sounded about right to me.

Abby--That's a great length for YA. Generally I'd say between 50k and 80k.

Myrna--My initial draft of Paranormalcy was 82k. I cut and combined and streamlined it to 72k before I sent it to Michelle. After edits with Erica, it stayed right around 72k.

The first draft of The Sequel squeaked in at 50k, which is much, much too short. My goal was to get a working draft to at least 60k and go from there. Ideally I'd like the books to be around the same length, to within twenty or twenty five pages, but what it really comes down to is how well the story reads. I'm not going to pad it to make it longer, or cut imperative things to make it shorter. Length is never as big a deal as a story that flows well and never drags!

Kiersten White said...

Also, really, have I told you lately that you're the best, oh readers of mine? It's so nice to know that we all go through these exact same things! I like the way Whirl put it. Hooray for being debarnacled!

Kristin Rae said...

That's so great that inspiration has hit! It is definitely one of the BEST feelings... to be on a roll.

I seem to come up with good Solutions while on walks, or driving...when I'm never able to write anything down! I just have to repeat it constantly until I get home.

Marsha Sigman said...

My flashes of genius tend to come late at night when I finally go to bed...right before I fall asleep I get them.

My muse is a tricksy one.

Glad its all going well for you! Sorry about the bags, mine sympathize with yours.

Donna Gambale said...

Congrats! That's the most amazing feeling. Wooo!

Hardygirl said...

I LOVE the shower inspiration scenes!

And, you're so right about the bags . . . and my friends think my life sounds like so much fun. Ha!

sf

Melissa said...

I've been staying up way too late most nights and getting up around 6am to get my kids ready for school. And my toddler refuses to sleep through the night. So I know all about the bags under the eyes.

Glad you found a solution for your problem. I found my solution a few weeks ago and it's the BEST feeling in the world:)

twaddleoranything said...

Shower epiphanies are AWESOME. Congratulations on the breakthrough!! I just discovered your blog, and have been having a grand ol' time exploring it. :)

Kimberly Franklin said...

I'm looking forward to those eyebags!

Guinevere said...

I love that feeling - the burst of inspiration that makes writing fun rather than work!

I just came over here from Between Fact and Fiction. It looks like you're already over 400, but I thought I'd join anyway. Looking forward to reading more about your publishing journey! :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Finding the solution is absolutely the best feeling ever!!

I popped over from Natalie's - great blog you've got here!

lora96 said...

Yay for you!

Also you are entitled to "whine" although when you are a professional artiste/writer it is called, I think, "angsting" and you are meant to be a tormented creative soul so it's kinda expected that you'll emote in an agonized, doomed fashion occasionally.

Sounds like the sequel will be fantistic! And if only I ONLY had to cut 10,000 words to make my WIP ready to look at! I need to cut at least 40K. But, to borrow from Michener, I can't say "hello" in eight pages.

Dominique said...

Congrats on making progress. It's good that you're having fun with your writing again.
You're right, break-throughs are a fantastic feeling.
Happy writing. :D

Meghan Ward said...

It's a shame you can't write about your struggles without your agent and editor worrying, because we all love to read about the struggles of other writers. Congrats, though, on finding the solution! What a great feeling.

Carrie Harris said...

Whee! Cannot wait to read it!

Um... that didn't sound too demanding, did it? ;)

writtenwyrdd said...

Once your editor and agent have seen you always deliver, they won't panic if you mention a difficulty on the blog.

I think that the moment of the mental lightning bolt is an awesome one. It's part of what makes writing or any creative art fun and addictive.

Jessie Oliveros said...

I've been waiting for my THE SOLUTION lately. Maybe I should go take another shower. (See, the key word being 'another' because by some miracle I already managed to shower this morning.)

Myrna Foster said...

Thank you so much for answering my question! :)