clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Cleaning, Cleaning.

I loved this stuff at left: Fairy Washboard. It's a spiky plant from arid climates that I saw today at a botanical garden. Great name, eh ?

Fairies have to do mundane tasks too.

I'm doing the mundane. I'm taking an outline and creating a rough draft that I think is wonderful in places and awkward in others.

I'm resisting in-draft edits. I will complete the story first. I will complete the story first.

Here's the problem. I've got drafts from some time back that I take out now to edit and I see all the bad decisions. I have to replace the bulb in my bullshit detector because the thing is just highlighting disappointment after disappointment.

It means I'm getting better. I am recognizing bad things in my own work that I might have considered marginal in draft form that in edit mode I see cannot remain. This calibration process is indeed from reading the works of other struggling writers and seeing my errors in their text. It helps.

The passages are florid or out of place with the characters or - worse - an injection of "brilliant narrator." You know, that guy in the back of the room who tells you how wonderful something is going to be in the part coming up without letting YOU focus on the part coming up. Now, my brilliant narrator is not so coarse as to interrupt the flow of the story. He will however fill you in on observational details completely out of place for the tale itself. Who is this guy talking over the story ? Where did HE come from ?

It feels that someone has spray painted the exterior wall of the edifice I have built of a story. Wonderful architecture ready for A.D. to come and photograph and then, the graffiti. What to do ?

Clean. You clean the prose. You clean the exposition. You clean the dialogue moving it from clinical to relaxed and conversational. You clean.

I'm finishing one now and I'm trying damn hard to keep the cans of spray paint from coming to the job site. If they are not there, then the cleaning is easier. It's bloody hard to change your instinct on what to put on the page.

 I'm of two minds: let the garbage stay and get better on the edits; or, keep the garbage out so the edits are easier.

Either way, it feels like cleaning to me. I'd love to know how some of you feel about the changes between rough draft and a solid composition. Is it awful for you as well or do you eventually just stop making the same errors over and over and thus editing is easier ?  I'd love to hear.

2 comments:

celeste holloway said...

Hey, Jack!

Editing is my favorite part of book writing. I love it when I go back to something I've put away and get totally disgusted w/it. I know this makes me sound like a lunatic, but to me, this is victory because it means I'm getting better.

I admire your organized method of outlining. I just sit down and write. I'm thinking your method probably saves you lots of migraines, but I've never been able to go that route. It's seems the less organized I am, the less anxious I get, which is weird because when it comes to anything else, I'm mostly organized.

Anywho, I appreciate this post, and love that you need to change the bulb in your 'bullshit detector' ha!

Thanks for dropping by my blog. I really enjoyed your input. :)

j welling said...

Editing the favorite part ? Wow. That's impressive.

My favorite part is probably the point after having written but before editing starts. That moment of relief: I survived the story. Close behind is the part after final read-through but before sending out the submissions. I like that part, too.

Once upon a time there was a period of a decade where I didn't use hot water. I didn't want the shock of not having it to be a discomfort. To me, that is the art preparing for the edits. The discomfort is just a way of life.