When you’re so tired, that instead of typing your main character’s sentiment, “together we’re a rock,” your fingers type, “together we’re a cork.”
Writing seems to inherently come with a lot of ups and downs. You can wake up with a grand plot twist, feeling you’re on top of the world and your story, and by bedtime realize the plot twist creates more problems than it solves, and what do you know about writing anyway?! I’ve kind of gotten used to that though. I have to remember to reconcile myself with the fact that the nebulous ideas in my head don’t always look so wonderful when they first hit the page, and that I just need to keep going.
Towards the end of July, I spent two weeks editing roughly three-quarters of my Little Red Riding Hood re-telling. And since my first drafts have gotten more freestyle (sloppy, in a nice and creative way) it was a lot of work. For instance, in the first draft, one of my characters had memory loss, and in the revision I got rid of that. A lot of work, and a bit prophetic. One morning I pulled up my chair, ready and eager to get to the finish of these edits, when the plummeting realization hit me that my opened document looked just like it had two weeks before. I don’t know exactly how it happened. While editing, I keep the document tab always open, and as such, rarely ever hit save. Whenever the computer does decide to randomly shut itself off, that lovely auto-save has always had my back. But not this time. Those changes, and a few unsaved documents were gone (among them my carefully constructed synopsis that was incorporating all the editing changes) ARGH.
I learned a few things from that. Firstly, I care a lot more about my stories than I thought I did. Quite a few tears spilled after I’d desperately tried every Word-trick/tutorial on getting it back. Secondly, and perhaps most obviously, don’t trust auto-save so completely. And lastly, gratitude and empathy. This sort of ties into the first. I’d read a handful of blogs where entire stories had been lost, and I’d never really understood the level of discouragement it caused in the author, even being a bit patronizing about it. Well, I do understand now. And I’m also grateful that it wasn’t the entire story that was lost.
I’d like to say the fourth thing I learned was to get right back up and editing it again, but…that’s a little bit farther away. I scribbled down the basics of what the edits were, but I’m letting it rest. I have a feeling I would try too hard to remember exact phrases and sentences, and it would come out forced. Also, there’s just something so discouraging about the prospect.
So I started a brand new story, the one with the rock/cork incident. It’s a distraction, and I’m treating it as such. There is no conceivable plot at the moment, just character’s reactions to a phantom plot I have no way of explaining, and most freeing, I’m not paying attention to the word count.
Ever since Camp Nanowrimo and the Rooglewood Contest, the constant habit of tracking the word count has been with me. And while it’s good to be aware of chapter length and target size and all that stuff, back of it all has been the need to simply let the story tell itself, without worrying about such things. I have this little card I put over the bottom left part of the screen every time I open that particular document. And only when the story is finished will I know what it is. And I like it that way :)
I’m hoping that sometime closer to November/December I’ll retackle those edits. Editing and hot chocolate and blankets do go together nicely, don’t they? Plus, as busy as those months are with the holidays, it’s nice to have something to do that doesn’t require the amount of creative brainstorming that first drafts involve.
On another note, my absence from blog-activities was fairly helpful — even though I feel almost just as busy as I was when I took the break! I guess it’s just part of growing up to realize that things never really do slow down much. Life changes and decisions tend to be ever-present. But on the brighter side, there’ve been a lot of awesome blogs and posts to catch up with, a few of which I’ve got noted below.
- Emily Ann Putzke’s new blog, Generation Remembrance has had some awesome posts over the summer, everything from WWII reenactments to flying in a B-17!!! Go check it out!
- Downton Abbey week over at Naomi’s blog has me getting all nostalgic. I don’t consider myself a hardcore fan (is it bad that I would sometimes change the channel for the downstairs parts?) but I do love the show, and it’s brought back all my curiosity for the last season, which I have yet to see.
- I’ve been following WWII Today for close to a year now, but I always keep forgetting to mention it. Every day they post something that happened on that particular date, and it’s really insightful both for famous and little-known events.
- Jessica’s latest post has some very relevant thoughts about balance in life — an encouraging reminder I definitely needed!
- Rachel Heffington wrote this wonderful post all about compliments, which is extremely helpful for someone like me, who loves the idea, but can come out sounding just a bit awkward in practice :)
Whew, fairly long post for me! Anyway, thanks for reading along, and I hope that school, jobs, and all the general life stuff happening in this in-between time of year goes well for everyone! :)