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.

 

Emotional Rescue

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I was sitting, waiting for my train in Penn Station, remembering the last time I sat waiting for a train in Penn Station. Usually when memories like this come at me, I chase them away and I chase well.  Last time, I had just gotten really bad news, the worst kind of news, but it was more than that.  I shared a few days with some of my favorite people in the world and their world was changing. It has never been the same since and never will be. I sat in a corner chair and cried my face off. Yes I was the crazy lady crying in the train station (Note: Grand Central is shown, not Penn.)

That was a little over four years ago. If I am honest with myself, I have to admit that I went a little dull after that. I couldn’t quite get at the range of emotions I used to have. If the range was a one (misery) to ten (joy), I lived in the four to six zone. Not miserable, but not joyful either. Colors lost their luster. My musical interests closed in, and I probably listened to the same five bands over and over again, for three years. I essentially stopped reading. I wasn’t noticeably different, but I was different.

I’ve talked a lot about the visceral impact writing had on me when I started in February. At risk of repeating myself, I’ll say that it was actually a little disturbing. I stopped eating and sleeping and I felt buzzed 24 hours a day. I was writing thousands of words a day and I couldn’t stop. I could feel everything. Every word that went through me came from a depth that I can’t even explain. But it made me laugh and cry and afraid and unbelievably exhilarated. Less than a week in, I was strongly encouraged to get blood work. There may have been whispers of a nervous breakdown behind my back.

After about a month, the frenetic energy leveled off, but the rest stayed. The access stayed. Now the light is so bright that I can see the rays.  I can listen to a guitar solo seventeen times over and go back for an eighteenth, because the magic is real. It was20141030_104829 there the whole time, but I couldn’t get at it. Every sense is powerful and alive and I feel… awake.  This must be what heroin feels like.

When I wrote Circling, I chose some of my favorite locations for inspiration – North Carolina beaches, Charleston and Savannah. Before I started Forever Falling I had an urge to get to Asheville, NC. I had never been, but I just knew my characters were there so I went in July. My characters were indeed there. Book Three, untitled for now, will be set in New York City, primarily Brooklyn. I am just now taking the train away from New York. I spent an amazing few days there and yesterday I explored Brooklyn.

I was a little freaked out getting myself from Midtown Manhattan to Brooklyn. I have no idea how the subway system works (or do they say trains here) and I wanted to stay above ground to see the bridges. I can’t figure out busses to save my life.  I ended up taking a cab which cost a third of what I had guessed it would. I saw everything I wanted to see, the hospital (main character is a doc), Gloria’s West Indies Restaurant (thank to Anthony Bourdain for the tip), and walked miles and miles of sidewalk. Getting out of Brooklyn was an adventure of its own. Guess what, cabbies won’t go into Manhattan at the end of the day.  It wasn’t the end to the day I wou20141030_154220ld have chosen, but it was an experience all its own.

At one point I saw a park near the hospital, potentially really good setting material.  In my area back home, I don’t wander into parks much, alone on a weekday.  I decided to do it anyway and tentatively climbed a hill with no idea what awaited me on the other side. (Note: since I’m a writer my options were pretty much Ted Bundy, white slavery or gang rape). What I found was something very different, but you’ll have to wait for Book Three to read about it.IMG_20141030_143536

As I stood on that hilltop I wanted to drop to my knees and kiss the ground. (Note: I did not).  The warm air, the golden leaves, the filtered light, the singing birds, the poetic trees, the laughing hot dog vendors, the curious children, the view below me, the enormous blue skies above, steam billowing in the distance … it was all mine. It’s mine because I can reach it now, or more likely, it can reach me.

Here’s to being grateful for every day of this life.  Not everyone gets it and it is an extraordinary honor. Don’t miss a moment.

 

(Note: Pls forgive typos. Train typing is tough.)