Laser Sharp Focus

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Just a quickie today. I’m trying to maintain a laser sharp focus on these Circling rewrites. It is going well. The writing is getting stronger without the characters relying on the omniscient narrator to tell their story. But it is slow going.

In my laser sharp focus I have bought… oh no… I think I have bought five CDs in the last ten days. Oh no, it was six. Rush, Led Zeppelin,  Smiths, Smiths again, Brian Ferry and a Lenny Kravitz. I started a Tumblr blog (for literally no reason). I seem to have taken up cooking again. I ran out of red wine Tuesday night and faked a full grocery shop so I wouldn’t look like a drunk buying six bottles of red at 9 p.m.

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As much as I enjoy editing,  when it gets this technical, the excitement dims. The story is well laid, characters well defined, setting well imagined. I like that part more.

When I wrap this up, Circling and Forever Falling will go to copyedit together. And I can begin the third! I am living for that day.

Those first key strokes… that is my favorite day.

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A Lass Insane

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Today’s post is more of a purge than usual. I appreciate this forum to bounce around thoughts – sometimes senseless – but this go ’round I am purging for my own good. For my sanity. For my survival as a writer. (Now I’m just being melodramatic.) Truth be told, I need to make a bold decision that has been eating at me for nearly two weeks and I’ve been uncharacteristically waffling.

A few days before I went to NYC to do some setting research for book 3, I got my Circling edit back from a brand new copy editor.  Since I have ten years of editorial experience I was comfortable working with a new editor. Truthfully she was available and reasonably priced and I thought what the hell.

Without getting detailed I’ll say that it did not work out as I had hoped. I assumed incorrectly that she would under edit, in her inexperience. The edit was overdone to the extreme.  My character’s bad manners were turned into better manners. Colloquialisms were edited out.  Mean intentions were edited out. All past tense was revised to past perfect. I could go on, but I’ll leave it there.

Truthfully some things about Circling were bothering me.  I decided to edit the 3rd person omniscient into 3rd person limited.  My characters will speak stronger when they speak for themselves, without relying on a narrator. This became more apparent by the edit. I also need to more tightly align the tone of Circling and Forever Falling.  When I wrote that second book, I had a decent amount of experience under my belt and I think I nailed a few points more effectively.

So for the last two weeks I have been tearing my hair out over this.  As a former editor, the idea that I am a writer, who thinks she is above an edit, makes me want to punch myself in the face! At this point I have spent probably thirty hours working through the corrections and I am not 1/3 done.  I am “rejecting” probably 85% of the corrections. I wanted to believe that the 15% of corrections I am “accepting” is worth the time spent. Truthfully, I can hardly stand to open the file.  It is making me angry and frustrated and completely sucking the joy out of this process.  Many writers abhor editing, but I do not.  I love editing!  I think that editing is like the final coat of paint.  It is when you can finally see the true color of your work.

So this morning I finally made the decision.  I am shit canning this version. I’ll go back and do my own rewrite and then, when I am satisfied with the story once again, I will ask you, writers, for some experienced recommendations.  I’ll want Circling and Forever Falling edited together, I think. Lessons have been learned on this.  I am culpable in that I gave inadequate instruction and made assumptions about the process.

Bottom line is I miss the joy of all this.  Since I started writing on February 7th, my life has completely changed.  My brain rewired. My emotional connectivity with the world altered. I feel things more than I used to.  In some ways that is good.  In some ways it is bad.  For this situation, it is bad.  I can’t sleep. I’ve lost seven pounds (ok, not all bad). I’m way too generous with the pharmaceuticals. I simply can’t turn it off. I have to let it go or I’ll be insane.

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I had dinner at Busboys and Poets last night.  I was browsing the books and found my face right here… Rand, Randall, Ratner, Rice.  This is where I’ll be alphabetized one day.  I am in interesting company!  I’m glad to get all that out, Once I hit “publish” the decision is made and I can get off the fence on this. And I can get back to writing.

 
Thanks David Bowie for the title borrow. Here is The Jean Genie from Aladin Sane.

 

The Cemetery Paradox

I thought I might get some sleep tonight, but that seems beyond me,  yet again. This editorial review is extremely time consuming. I’ve decided to rework Circling a bit to match Forever Falling closer in tone and style. It is doable, of course,  but very heavy brain work. I’m in overload and as a result sleep has deserted me and probably won’t be back for awhile. In the end I’ll be happier with Circling and it will all be worth the time spent and insomnia.

I was sitting here thinking about the week. Wednesday was the third anniversary of my father’s death.  As all families do, mine has a system for remembering and honoring our dead, especially our Dad. As I am the closest geographically to the cemetery, and I choose not to worship in any location, other than the great outdoors, I visit Dad’s grave on birthdays and anniversaries. 

My first few visits had me shuffling my feet and looking solemn. This year I realized how bored he’d be with that. I decided to do better.  What would be want?  He’d want updates, gossip, success stories. He’d love to hear about everyone he loved. So I plunked my ass in the grass and went through every family member from oldest (hi Mom) to the youngest grandchild, and gave him their stories. It felt good. It made me feel closer to him than the shuffling.

After awhile I realized it was getting close the dusk. There was no one in the cemetery but me. You may know I’m not one to venture into deserted areas alone much. That cemetery was different though. I felt so safe. So protected. Maybe because I grew up in New England and there is a cemetery on every other street. I spent most of my childhood smoking cigarettes and drinking hijacked booze with friends, among the dead.

I could have curled up and slept the night through there. I was just thinking it is a paradox. Cemeteries are supposed to be scary places, but they are not. My dad and your dad, mom, aunt, uncle, grandparent, spouses, friends, even sometimes the dearest children, are there. I feel like they are there, protecting us all.

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