Posts Tagged With: editing

Step Two: Editing

While most people find writing, step one, to be the biggest hurdle, for me it’s always been editing.

(Though now as I write that I realize, as I’ve never been past step two, it’s hard to say if that’s really the “hardest” step for me.  But no matter.)

Editing is essentially what I have been doing, non-stop, for the past month.  For me, editing means I need to turn my draft from something likely fun and haphazard, into something cohesive.  In the past this hasn’t interested me much.  Mostly because when I get the jist of my novel down, I feel fulfilled. I’ve more or less described and created something and that is my main joy.  Editing takes that joy and qualifies it, which isn’t always a pretty picture.

Still, this story in particular seemed to me both fun and valuable. I felt like I had something entertaining and, potentially, meaningful to say.  For the most part, too, I had done a pretty good job of getting it all down correctly.  For a NaNoWriMo novel it flowed pretty well.

So, over the last month I have been spending, on most days, at least a couple hours at my computer methodically going chapter by chapter.  Reading and re-reading.  I made slight edits such as taking out extra adverbs (so easy to write with during NaNo but often useless) to changing certain plot points entirely.  It’s resulted in a re-write of chapter one at least a dozen times.  But now, finally, I’m down to my last 30 pages.

If you saw my blog entry from a couple days ago you’ll know I “finished.” I filled in that last hole, I wrote that last word that, for me, qualified a whole story.  It wasn’t done in that I was never going to change anything again, but it was done in that I had finally made something wholly cohesive.

Since those last couple of days I have re-read my story at a higher level, more like a true reader, catching any last glaring errors. This will be my last solely me evaluation.  I know this because tonight I put the call out to my facebook friends – who wants to read what I wrote?

I’m leaving on vacation on Tuesday.  My goal tomorrow is to have my last 30 pages edited by me so I can say my novel is now as complete as I can get it without outside voices. I’ll give three or four people my novel to read over the next two weeks.  Then, at their suggestions, I’ll edit again.

Rinse and repeat!

Man, I like this part.

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Step One: Writing

This may not seem like such an astonishing fact, but the first step to getting published is to write – or so I’ve been told.  So that’s what I’ve been doing recently, actually that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life.

I’m one of those born writing individuals.  I still have my notebook with my first story, “The Spooky Man.” It’s about a ghost-like man who somehow owns his own house down the block and gets his jollies by kidnapping children.  You can expect it on the big screen soon.

The first landmark of my progression from casual to more structured writing was the discovery of Reading.com (now, Writing.com).  It’s a wonderful site that promoted the sharing and critique of writing through an online community.  I’m still involved on that site and sport a portfolio that dates all the way back to 2001.  The vast majority of what I have on there is total crap but the website has served as a touchstone for me, a way to get back into a writing community whenever I feel the urge.  I owe a lot of my progression as a writer to the website and recommend it highly.  I’ve learned so much about writing but even more about critiques, self promotion, and thick skin.  Put your stuff on the internet and you’ll learn a lot.

The next, and most significant step in my writing process, has been NaNoWriMo (If you don’t know what this is, discover it. Now. NaNoWriMo.org). My extremely good friend, at the time just an online acquaintance, persuaded me to join in on NaNo four days into November when I was in 8th grade.  It was unreasonably exciting.  I threw myself into writing a story that was miles longer than anything I had ever before created.  What came out I still treasure, horrific as it may be (just to give you an idea, I didn’t yet understand the necessity for quotation marks or paragraphs).  I completed the required 50,000 words on November 28th – plenty of time to spare.

NaNoWriMo, for me, has been a requirement for writing.  This year will be my 13th year dong NaNo and I’ve won every year but one.  I don’t have the problem a lot of other writers seem to, I can actually sit down and write.  I don’t correct myself I don’t get writer’s block, and I am not consumed with the idea of good vs. bad.

I think this it the most crucial step for anyone who wants to get publish.  You aren’t going to get anything sold if you don’t put it on paper first.  A good idea means nothing if you can’t share it.  You’ll hear it time and again from people who are published and love writing – Chris Baty, Natalie Goldberg, Julia Cameron, Jerry Cleaver, and so many more.

So, I’ve been writing.  On my crusade to get published I’ve chosen my most recent NaNo novel, titled Viva Las Vegas.  It’s a light, chick lit book with hot men and sexy ladies. It was meant to be fluff but I ended up really enjoying it and now it’s evolved into something that, while still full of sexy people, had a bit more heart to it. When I stopped writing it in November I had more or less completed the story.  The last few chapters were more mismatched scenes than a true series of events culminating in a story.  Over the past two weeks I’ve buckled down and gotten serious.  In what has been simultaneously an editing and new writing extravaganza I’ve spent many hours at Starbucks and I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

But, before I can even think about what’s happening next, I need to concentrate on this first, huge step. I need to write something to be published.

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My Road Less Traveled.

I believe in a number of things when it comes to writing.

1) Writing is easy.

2) Writing is best done alone, and with friends.

3) Thinking about writing creates writing.

4) Anyone can be published.

With those basic principles in mind, I thought I’d start a blog.  With my new life event of hating my new job and being unable to get a new one without committing resume suicide, I started some soul searching and came up with a glorious plan.  After 13 years of novel writing and a life-time of whatever writing, maybe I would actually do something with my writing.  It seemed both easy, and impossible. I had always thrown away the idea of being an “author” and making a career out of writing.  I knew what a steep hill that would be and, honestly, I didn’t really want to do the work.  I have such a fun, light feeling about my writing and I didn’t want to ruin it by getting all serious.  But, with a move to depressing suburbia land and working 8-5 at a hopeless, depressing State run organization hell bent on making my head explode every day, I needed a serious outlet.

So, my spring has sprung.  I’m finally going to take that step, just to see what pans out.  I’m going to jump head first into the pool and get myself published.  Depending on how that whole experience goes, we’ll see if I can make it my day job.

Now, back to the list.

1) Writing is easy – to anyone out there who disagrees, needs to understand I’m not talking about quality. Good writing is trickier but here’s the amazing and wonderful thing about good.  It’s subjective.  And as much as we try to pretend there are certain levels of good, certain norms we have to follow, it’s really all just mush.  I’ve written some things I think are wonderful, but others think are crap.  I’ve written some stuff I think is crap, that others apparently like.  We’ve all read published books out there that blow out sock off and others that make us wonder what’s wrong with the world.  The point is that there are people out there who love The Great Gatsby and people who love 50 Shades of Gray.  What’s my point? Make it grammatically correct and we all have a shot at the big time.

2) Writing is best done alone, and with friends – I’ve written both alone and with friends.  They are both awesome.  You should try them all.

3) Thinking about writing creates writing – For many years I have written only during the month of November. I’d sit down for NaNoWriMo, punch out a novel, maybe edit a bit here and there throughout the year, and I’d be done.  Not a single other aspect of writing creativity (unless you count journaling and writing letters, which I don’t).  In contrast, I’ve been on this publishing idea for about a week and a half now.  I’ve been reading non-stop for months, I checked out all these books from the library about writing, I went to Lit Fest in Chicago last weekend, and I’m headed to a writing workshop tomorrow. Today, I went for a bike ride and came back with a poem.  A poem.  Do you know how long it’s been since I wrote a poem?  It only came out of me because I had been making it a practice to think about writing.  It was a wonderful surprise.

4) Anyone can be published – This make a wonderful loop with point number one.  Obviously, there is self publishing, but aside from there in the world of “real” publishing, it’s all about editing and persistence.  I know there are people about there who will publish my novels, I just need to find them.  I’ve read a lot of wonderful books in my day and I’ve read a lot of crap books in my day.  I think, right now, I’m somewhere in between.  I’d love to be more toward the good end, and I’ll try my best, but for now I’m just going to run with it and see what comes out.

And that’s why this is my road less traveled.  Thirteen years of writing and I finally am going to try moving to the next step.

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