Tag Archives: revisions

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Weird.

It took 47 minutes of trial and error to get to one word of good revision on the Sam and Patty story tonight.

47 minutes.

And that word was glorious. No, really, it was “Glorious.” A one word sentence. That led to 1638 new words. All of them desperately needed to help flesh out this story with decent characters.

Thank God I found the words. Or they found me.

Three hours later, it’s time to call it a night.

I don’t want to.

I want to sit and write and write and write to the Ennio Morricone and Yo-Yo Ma playlist I’ve got loaded on Spotify. I never would’ve guessed those spaghetti westerns I hate would lead to great words. Unforgiven and Pale Rider? Sure. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly AND Hang ‘Em High? No way.

I didn’t realize what they were right away. I just typed in cello music and dragged a ton of songs over to the queue. I’m addicted now.

It sure makes writing easier when you want to listen to the music that moves the soul of the story.

 

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Draft done

Finished the first draft. My first drafts are way too thin, but the basic plot structure is there and the characters are developed. Now to go build their world.

I’ve been listening to one of my early books that’s been produced into an audio book. WOW. I tell my students that all the time: two musts if you want to be a writer–read a lot and write a lot. I’ve written a lot in the last ten years.

I’m in the middle of reading a book by one of my former students right now. I can’t wait to share more about that book with my blog followers. People are going to love Laney.

Jodi’s posts about Laney helped me with my first draft of the new book. I checked out strong female country artists on spotify and they helped me write more words a night than I had in forever. I love writing to songs that set the tone for my books. (Amy LaVere’s Damn Love Song might be my most favorite song ever!)

Looking forward to working through this draft. I don’t rush revisions any more, though. I’ve found time is a HUGE help on revisions.

People ask about writing processes all the time. To be honest, any time I read about other authors’ processes, I hang on to their every word. But I’ve also discovered the writing process changes from person to person. I used to critique with the amazing writer who wrote scenes all out of order. If something popped in her brain, it went down on paper, no matter where the scene took place in the book. I plotted with a best seller who wrote a scene and revised it to perfection before moving on. When she finished a book it was D.O.N.E.

I have to get my beginning set and then I can write like crazy to get to the end of the draft. Other than my beginning, my draft is CRAPTASTIC with moments of magic. I go through and flesh it out a couple times then let it rest, go work on something else, then come back. I have to handle revisions like this, especially during the school year.

It’s going to be crazy cold tonight again. March and we’ve got a winter weather advisory. STRANGEST winter ever. At least all that cold inspired me to write. 🙂

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Oh insomnia…

I think insomnia goes hand in hand with writing for me. Turning characters off so I can sleep isn’t always easy. That could be a good thing if I didn’t report to work at 7:25 Monday-Friday. Nah. It would still be a bad thing. Because I might be able to create for hours, but sleep is essential. At least it is for me.

The 5k day yesterday hurt my arm all day today. It was either that or the cold front moving in. UGH! Not sure which. I am sure I wrote again tonight, but I stopped early because I’m not up to hurting again tomorrow.

It’s fun to watch the word count meter crawl closer to the end. One day at a time. That’s the key to finishing this book. I hope I’ll have a draft done by Spring Break. Fingers crossed it happens. Today’s writing ended with one of those “didn’t see that one coming” moments that make the first draft so much fun. My poor heroine. She’s going through hell in this novel. SOOOOOO much fun to write.

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Lesson 5,000,012

teacherdeskI saw his name on my roll sheets and groaned. See, he’d spent a semester with me the year before explaining how he was switching schools and talking about yearbook and how much he wanted to be on staff. BUT it was a lot of talk. A lot. In fact, it was about ten (million) times more talk than actual work. On top of that he’d earned a trip to the alternative campus. And his writing…I don’t have the words to explain.

So, yeah, I saw his name and groaned. I even took out my shiny new red pen (thank you, Office Depot) and crossed his name off the list then started to take it to the guidance office to say “No way.”

But as I started out the door I remembered my decision to give any kid who wanted to try staff, who agreed to the contract terms including after school lab time, a chance.

Day 1: He shows up to class excited and ready to work. I tell him he can stay “on probation.”

Day 2: He asks to switch to newspaper. (much internal groaning commenced, but smile stayed firmly in place as I said, “suuuuure,” all the while thinking yeah, right.)

Day 3: He asks to take photos also because he kind of stinks at writing. (acknowledging the problem is the first step to fixing the problem)

Day 10: He decides photography won’t work. It takes too much time outside of class.

Day 15: He turns in first draft. On time.

Day 16: He frowns when I say open the draft so we can talk. But goes to work right away looking for professional examples of stories like the one he’s trying to write.

Days 17-40: New draft every other day. Editor works with him, encouraging, cheering him on, telling him to get buys and stop talking.

10 drafts in he submits a publishable story. It’s awesome. We add two drafts to our presets for him, but he gets it done. We high five and I tell him he’s earned the prize for most revisions ever, an award as impressive in my mind as best story ever.

Day 60: Next story in. Another multi-draft work. Another great job.

Day 77: He finishes his page in the magazine before anyone else.

He’s done more work than this, but these are the high points. These are the points that retaught me the lesson about expectations and the importance of “want to.”

It’s been a great year. I’m proud of him. I’m proud of all of my kids. And I’m ready for a break!

Two days and counting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Event + Response

While DGW percolates I’m working on a new book, and it’s like I wrote two different people for one character, and said character isn’t supposed to be split personality. Not a good thing.
Interesting moment last night working on it. I thought about scrapping the story and starting something completely new. I kept working and thinking this is too hard and logging on to twitter and facebook. I even did dishes instead of working on the story. I read HuffPo and Perez and tried channeling Karen Templeton and Sharon Sala. It didn’t work.
And then it hit me.
Those authors I love don’t just snap their fingers and end up with works of art. They work the story and the words and they write and write and write some more before they end up with the stories I love.
It’s funny I needed the reminder that revising isn’t always easy since I teach my kids to give themselves permission to write crap because you can’t fix a blank page. I build my entire curriculum around the word revise.
I told a friend Sunday that Event + Response = Outcome. That applies to everything in life…including this. I gave myself permission to write crap. The bones of the story are there, but right now, I’m facing some serious work to whip it into shape. Still, it’s better than a blank page.
Back to work.

Writing…

I have a partial ready to send to Love Inspired, and I’m working on edits of a full.
It’s funny how very different these stories are.
I don’t know if either of them will make the cut. But I’m learning from both stories.
It’s a whole new ball game. I hope both stories get to see readers other than the few who’ve critiqued for me. 🙂

Next week is D-Day for Texas teachers not on continuing contracts. We’ll know the full extent of projected layoffs then. It’s going to be ugly. Those of us on continuing contracts are safe, but it’s still going to be ugly. Between pay cuts and insurance hikes, it’s going to be a painful year.

But not as painful as it is for the people in Japan right now. Or several other countries. Sometimes I think we have it too easy.

Meeting Goals

I’m loving the new book. And hating it at the same time. It’s been TOUGH, but writing is taking place on a daily basis in the Lee household and that is GOOD NEWS! The new book is about forgiveness, redemption and letting go of the past. It’s targeted to Love Inspired. I hope to have a proposal ready to go within two weeks. I’ll actually have the first three chapters totally done before the end of this week. I hope to have the synopsis completely done by Sunday. Then I’ll let the proposal sit a week while I continue writing. Then I’ll go through the proposal one more time. Goal: to have the proposal on the way to LI editors by Feb. 28.
What changed: A lot. The budget crisis certainly lit a fire under me. I also realized that when DD graduated, something in me switched off. For almost three years, I’ve been treading water in life. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. In that time, my relationship with God has really blossomed. And DH and I are truly best friends. I’ve learned a lot about me. It’s been a “growing up” time again. Kind of like that time between 25 and 30 was for me.
It’s kind of weird to look back on a clump of years and realize how I sunk into this deep funk.
Menopause certainly didn’t help, I’m sure. The ankle compounded things probably.
You know, God uses these times though. If I hadn’t been in this time of “treading water” I don’t know if we would have gotten involved in the college ministry at church. I think that’s been more of a blessing to us than anyone!
When I went to RRRW this month, I was ready to fully recommit to writing. I’ve been writing again for a while now, but there’s a difference between actively writing and writing. If you’re a writer, you understand that statement.
I’ve committed to writing 1 page every day this week. At RRRW we call this a WWG (weekly writing goal), and we check in to hold each other accountable. It’s been a long time, but I’m glad to have that. I’m writing one single spaced page a day. Yesterday’s page was crap, crap, crap, crap. Today’s was better. The revisions were awesome. (hopefully I still feel that way in a couple weeks!)
That’s the nature of writing, I suppose. Some days are good, others not so much, but even in the not so much, there’s something to learn. I’m glad for that.

When it’s just not that great

Spent last night going over WIP so I can hit the ground running today. The story has nuggets of greatness in it. Small, bite sized, miniscule, rollypolly-sized bits of greatness. Enough that I’m not going to throw it away and start from scratch. But man does it stink!

I know, I know. I broke the cardinal rule. I read the work I was writing with an editor’s eye instead of letting the right brain do its thing and create, breathe life onto the page, sing the song of “novelizing.” But it’s been two weeks since I looked at the pages and I needed to refresh my memory before I let the creative brain get down to business. It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s like I have this outline for a story with some interesting moments and some decent dialogue. But I don’t have a fully developed story, not by a long shot.

So I’m going to take this baby apart scene by scene, flesh it out, hopefully make it something great, something ready to see the world. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to take patience. I’m going to have to SLOW DOWN. I need to remember this isn’t a cross stitch pattern. I used to do cross stitch. I’d get starte ,and I’d love the idea so much. Perfect little X’s that ended up turning into this beautiful photo made from different colored yarns. I’d spend hours and hours and hours working toward the end and then the end would be in sight and I’d rush those last X’s through just to finish, and sometimes, often, that meant sating up all night because I couldn’t stand to go to bed when I was so close to “the end.” I’d get this tingly feeling in my hands, this taste of “being done!” in my throat, this fluttery feeling in my chest. And the next day the picture would be complete. Messy but done. And I’d smile and congratulate myself on a job well done and start on the next one, promising myself that this time, I’d slow down so the last stitches were as pretty and perfect as the first. THe same thing happens when I write. I get started and I see the end of the scene a few words in and I write, write, write to get there, and somehow, I leave out the emotion and depth of the middle. Then I spend hours trying to make them something different, something better and people tell me that’s the way it’s supposed to work because the revision process that comes after the book is done is all about making the magic.

I’m going to try to do the magic now instead of writing the whole book and then mixing in the revisions. I know I’ll still have revisions to do when it’s all done, but hopefully I have something stronger to start with.

Wish me luck!