Monday, December 7, 2009

"The key idea to remember is that fixing a broken novel is like organizing an overstuffed closet: things get messier before they get better. You have to pull everything out before you can get it straightened up, which looks (and feels) like a disaster when you're in the middle of the operation. Deal with that, the psychological fact that you're eviscerating first, fixing later, and you'll go a long way toward meaningful editing, as opposed to rearranging deck chairs on the Hindenburg."
--Scott Westerfeld is the author of the Uglies Trilogy and So Yesterday
(captured from NaNoWriMo's page "You've finished your novel, now what?)

How true is this? And so dear readers, I go into day two of cleaning step-dots room. And it is true - it is messier than when I started - or appears to be. Because there were nests of stuff under the bed, in the closet and in the drawers. And now everything is clean but the pile on the floor. I will sort it best I can - give up at some point and shovel the rest into a bag. The bag will remain in the basement until I'm sure there is nothing in it she is missing - then it will be gloriously kicked to the curb. (well it would be if we had a curb but we are country mice so it will be kicked to the road.)
Now, how is my revision process like this? I have an unwieldy mass of information (stuff) mostly unorganized. There are some clean edges - I like my beginning - it is pretty clean. There are some things that I can make out in the mass/mess - some themes, some clues, some recurrences of thoughts and a hidden organizing principle. I can sort it and organize it so that someone (a reader) will be able to use it (read it) and have its individuality and quirkiness appreciated.
See you in an hour or two when I'm finished the room and about to begin the revising, writing.

6 comments:

Watery Tart said...

What a great point! Scary to think about pulling things apart... you pull out a scene because it is 90% junk then have to figure out where to stick the 10% critical without putting the whole scene back in...

I wonder how badly my packrat nature is feeding into by long book one...

Jan Morrison said...

oh Tartlet - in the world of metaphor don't you think everything is everything? Of course you have a long book because you're a packrat! For me it is not having enough to actually revise properly. That's why my new motto is 'write fat, revise lean."

Helen Ginger said...

Good luck on both projects. I fear the first is the most hazardous!

Helen
Straight From Hel

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Nothing but admiration for you for cleaning that room; the thought of going into my teenage son's bedroom sets me atremble.

I have never been a packrat either in life or in writing. My problem is my writing is too lean; sometimes the motto of 'less is more' bites you in the behind!

Elspeth

Jan Morrison said...

Hi Helen - yep, and the second didn't get its time because of it. But that's OK - tomorrow is offical writint day and I'll get at it then.
Elspeth - you and me both - years of writing enough for the actors to riff off of and to be done by Sunday noon have made me a spare writer. When my friend Malcolm wrote our first of many musicals - there were two intermissions and we figured part way through the run that folks spent more time at the bar than in their seats - of course the theatre loved us for that!

Elizabeth Bradley said...

I'm so old that I remember having to type out my work and using carbon paper. Editing and re-writing was a process that could send a person right up the wall. Maybe that's why I rather enjoy pulling apart what I've written and putting it back together and re-writing and editing and all that jazz. It's a piece of cake with a word processor. I am reminded that the greats used to write with pencils, pens, or clunky typewriters. We have it easy nowadays, but it never feels easy, does it?