Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Challenge - letting your writing lead

My NaBlo posts are in the form of letters to my journal about my revision process. Along the way, I'll include Home-Made Revision Workshop posts, and my Friday Challenges.

Dear Journal,
I've been thinking about something the past few days. Oh yes, I've had plenty o'thinking time. I did revise one chapter yesterday - have three to go - and I was not happy. It is the old pow-wow chapters again. They were muddy right from the beginning - I've struggled and struggled and you know what? Struggling is a bad sign. Sure, we're all going to have bogged down bits, but if they continue to be problematic then there is a point when one has to stop spinning one's wheels and have a good HARD  gentle look. So that's what I'm going to do today. I know that things happen in the pow-wow chapters that have to happen but maybe they don't have to happen there. Or in the same way. 
How I approach this is going to be the meat of the Friday Challenge. I'm not going to go into my manuscript all savage and destructive - ripping and tearing (cutting and dumping). I'm going to believe that my writing has some intelligence and that if I go in very gently and listen to it - look at the shape of it when it is on track and see what it tells me about the story. The thing is - the chapters I like have a certain rhythm and the ones I don't like - well, they don't have that rhythm - they are sharper, harder, more expository than I'd like. The chapters I like are somewhat slow, they gather slowly like rain clouds - they don't storm across the sky. The other ones are staccato, quick and shiny. I'm not sure I'm capturing this but that will be the exercise. 
For the Friday Challenge - find a piece of writing that isn't going the way you'd like, that you are struggling with, and instead of bulldozing it - see what it has to tell you. Go gently here and there, asking it if it needs a different location (either in the world of your book or in the novel), another character, or less hurly burly, or more hurly burly. I'm going to think that this obstacle-laden struggling part of my book is like my back right now - telling me to slow down and listen to it - not medicate it but to see where it is functioning best. 
While you do this, keep asking your writing what it needs to be true. Allow yourself to be surprised by what it might tell you.
And I'll see you tomorrow.    (photo taken in Cape Breton near the ferry at St. Anne's)


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Maybe a total rewrite of those chapters is in order?

Liza said...

It's Saturday, not Friday...but I'm off to look at a short piece I've been struggling with! Thanks for the inspiration...and the beautiful picture!