Friday, October 19, 2007

The "Will I Ever Finish?" Blues

It has been a great week in Romancelandia, with my friends Tessa Dare and Carrie Ryan both making their first sales (Tessa at auction, Carrie in a pre-empt). I am so far beyond thrilled for them!

Aside from the fact that I know Tessa and Carrie, I have to say, it's always encouraging to see writers make their first sale. It proves it can be done, no matter how daunting the odds may appear. I can't help thinking, "Hey, that could be me!"

But then, I remember something frightening. Something depressing. The first step is up to me.

I have to finish something I feel is worthy of submitting to agents and editors. It means not just writing a book until I read "The End," but revising and polishing that book after the thrill of completing the first draft has long since worn off. Given that I've always had a problem maintaining enough enthusiasm for a story to get to "The End" the first time, the whole notion that I have to keep working on it even after that point is difficult to stomach.

The reason I've been thinking a lot about this is:

  1. I want to sell a book, damn it (preferably more than one, actually)!

  2. To that end, I've decided to tackle my full-scale reworking of Unbridled beginning in November. (Why am I waiting until November, you ask? Because Jackie's got to finish her novella first!)
I have some ideas for making this task a little less painful (starting with a Excel spreadsheet version of Maven Erica's storyboarding technique; I don't do paper!). I have to throw out some parts of the story, but many existing scenes will probably stay. The first thing I need to do is identify what stays, what goes, what replaces what goes, and what plot points, scene goals, and backstory/motivation needs to be added or removed. Hopefully, if I have a good game plan before I start (instead of just pantsing my way through the entire enterprise, which is pretty much what I did the first time!), I can be the New England Patriots of revision (without the sneaky sideline cameras, of course).

On the other hand, I worry that I won't be able to maintain my enthusiasm for revising a book that, to a large extent, feels like it should already be done.

To that end, I'm asking you all for your tips and tricks to sticking to a manuscript once you get into revision mode. I know some writers LOVE revising. If you do, tell me why you love it. Maybe that's my problem: I just don't see the attraction but it's really been lurking there all along. Or, if you're like me and allergic to revising, tell me how you keep from breaking out in hives while you do it.

Because we all have to do it, right? Nobody writes a perfect book in the first draft. (And if you did, you are not allowed to tell me so :)!)

Update:

Just opened my LA Times to find an op-ed piece by Rob Long that begins with the following paragraph:

As a professional writer, I've always been pretty good at not writing. Not writing, in fact, is one of my chief skills. I can not write anywhere -- on a plane, in a coffee shop, in my office -- and I often feel that a day spent without not writing is a day wasted. I even keep a notebook by the side of the bed, in case I wake up with an idea at 3 in the morning and don't want to write it down in case I don't forget it.

One more choice excerpt:

When I think of writing, that's pretty much what comes to mind: sitting around, drinking a pumpkin latte and checking my e-mail every seven seconds.
OMG, this is me, this is me! (Okay, less the pumpkin latte. I like my coffee unleaded, thanks!) But ahhhhhh, I'm not aloooooone...

For the rest of the article, click here.

1 comment:

Maggie Robinson said...

I've got about 15,000 words on my current WIP to come up with until The End, and I am not writing them. They aren't there right now. I'm very good at this non-writing stuff too, altho I have a zillion blog posts all ready to go.

But I recently finished revising Third-Rate Romance (just waiting now to get rejected by the editor who requested the full *g*). I thought I was ruthlessly cutting backstory and POV problems, but I wound up w/4000 more words. It's too soon to tell if this is a good or bad thing. I did a few consecutive chaps every single day for a couple of weeks to make sure I remembered the flow of the story. I usually skip around when I write, so it was crucial to make sure all the pieces fit. I wrote nothing else so I wasn't distracted. The revision went much better than I expected, making me want to go back to the two masterpieces under the bed. Good luck with Unbridled!