Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lets talk about revision. Again.

Why should I talk or write about anything else? This is what I'm in. I'm in revision. I had a thought this morning about being in revision. Was it me or the manuscript that was in revision? I think, I thought, both. I'm in revision as a writer. I'm not the same person who started writing or even began this particular novel. I'm not the same person I was yesterday. Sometimes I look at my manuscript and it is like I'm working on someone else's opus. Not mine. I don't know these people! It must be like when Joni Mitchell is asked to sing 'Both Sides Now'. This significant repulsion to what or who you married in another time!
I'm not off the book - I don't want you to think that. I am loving the book and I'm even loving this process. But there seem to be layers upon layers upon layers. I just read in The Writing Warrior by Laraine Herring - that our first drafts - up to six of them - are like throwing seeds unto the ground. What takes? What doesn't? What do we want to focus on and what is a crop not worth spending more time on?
This metaphor has a great interest for me right now, for my own real garden is a BIG mess. Ha! Both the flower gardens and the vegie one have been left to their own devices this year. The flowers are gorgeous but the weeds are just as big and as for the vegetable garden - here is what is in it - six tomato plants that haven't been staked yet, four cabbage plants (! don't ask me - I have no idea why I planted them - I think I thought they'd look purty), the strawberry plants from last year - they are yielding but I never put straw under them so they aren't happy, and some garlics that Ron planted in the fall. Yep. And a ton of weeds.
Is that what my manuscript is like? I'm not sure. I do need to tend to the main plants - the characters in this case. And I do need to weed (take out all the excessive 'so, but, and' and so forth. And all the telling). I suppose I need to fertilize a bit with what I've learned over the last year about me, about the story, and about writing. Will the metaphor stretch that far? Mostly though - I have been working on my manuscript daily - unlike my garden. It is one of the reasons that I haven't been gardening, truly.
OK - Gwen is here and I'm going to make another pot of coffee and get to work.
Maybe later I'll stake those tomatoes.

14 comments:

The Time Sculptor’s Secret said...

I like the gardening/editing analogy: you dig deep, scatter seeds, stake and weed, maybe transplant a few things etc... etc... and finally you just need to do a bit of dead-heading! Thanks for the toothpaste stain-removing tip on my blog by the way. It worked! Jane Gray

Hart Johnson said...

Six, huh? That sounds about right... before you are solidly working with the pieces you want and it is just a matter of cleaning from there... I am ON 6, by the way... so maybe I am just clinging to this...

I like the garden analogy except I have significantly better attention span and interest on paper... My garden is curretnly full of thistle (and potatoes, I think--they replant themselves...)

Margot Kinberg said...

Jan - I think you ask such a powerful point in your first paragraph: Do we change as our writing changes? Certainly I think that as we write we get more clarity. As we get to know our characters, we see that our first ideas of what they're like change. But I think that's true of real-life people we meet, too. We get a first idea of someone and then the better we get to know them, the more layers peel off. Same with our characters, I think.
And after all, everything changes anyway - why shouldn't we and our manuscripts?

Jemi Fraser said...

Six? Yay! I'm not alone :) Good luck with it all!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I think it's a lot like gardening! Good analogy! And...good luck, Jan. :)

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I'm really hoping your analogy is correct as I've spent hours over the last few weeks being ruthless in cleaning out my garden. Let's hope my writing will soon look just as clean. Or..crap...does this mean I should just highlight and delete???

Jan Morrison said...

Jane – dead-heading! Yay! I love doing that…and so glad about the wondrous toothpaste.

Tartlette – I really and truly don’t know what # of draft I am on. And I’m only hoping my writing practice is better than my gardening one – where I am so full of enthusiasms one moment and so off them the next!

Margot – exactly! We are growing as writers while our manuscripts grow (or deepen).

Jemi – you are SO not alone!

Elizabeth – yes, it was interesting to read in Herring’s book as I’ve often gone to it as the main metaphor of my practise. That’s probably why I noticed it.

Elspeth – cleaning out your garden! Come here and clean out mine – all you’ll need is a scythe and the strength of twelve!

Niamh said...

Its so reassuring that someone is at the same stage as I am:)
I'm revising a draft I wrote a while ago - so I feel like I'm creeping round someone else's garden and I so wish they'd labelled their seedlings...:)

Clarissa Draper said...

I totally understand your revision issues. Going through them myself. Thanks for your encouraging comment on my blog.

Now, as for gardening, I'm hopeless, I have one plant in my house, ONE, and it's dying. I'm a murderer... of plants. But I'm working on it. I need to start planting dandelions.

Liza said...

My tomatoes are staked but my story is not. You are in the better place.

Nancy J. Parra said...

When I first started writing an author friend said she loved revisions best. I thought she was mad. But now that I've been doing it for so many years, I've come to enjoy the process. Who knew?

I hope you come to enjoy it as well.
Cheers~

ShannonAnn said...

Every year just about this time, I say the garden will be much better next year.lol
I am impressed with how hard you have been working this summer!

Arlee Bird said...

Ha ha! You or the manuscript in revision? Sounds funny, but it makes sense. It's a process in which both are revised.


Lee
Tossing It Out

Jan Morrison said...

Niamh – isn’t that so funny about us? We likes to enjoys our miseries in the same boat…
Clarissa – I like revising – I really do – it seems like the real work of a writer and I feel all covered in glory as I do it – I just hate the ambiguity of the whole thing and my incredible neediness around numbers - of words, of drafts, of anything!
Liza – my tomatoes remain unstaked – we had a twelve hour INSANE lightening and thunder storm here – and though I went out in it to take pictures of the wonderful rainbow – I didn’t attempt the garden. Ha.
Nancy – oh, I do enjoy it. I like it much better than the early draft stuff – I think it is the real thing AND I get befuddled.
Shannon Ann – I am too! I feel this drive to get this done and dusted. And I have these other manuscripts waiting for me too. Yikes.
Lee – you got that right – we’re a work in progress.