Writing Ups and Downs

 

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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.

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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 :)

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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! :)

 

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8 thoughts on “Writing Ups and Downs

  1. Your first paragraph made me laugh. I ALWAYS write embarrassingly funny stuff accidentally too. :-P I agree COMPLETELY though – writing So comes with Ups and Downs. (Ups and Downs, Mr Clenham, Ups and Downs.) (*cough* Little Dorrit reference.)

    Oh, and so so glad you enjoyed the DA week! :-)

    1. I’m glad I’m not alone! I guess humor could be considered one of the ups of writing, even if it is embarrassing sometimes :)
      I LOVED Downton Abbey week! It has inpsired me to try and borrow it from the library through the cooler months so I can watch it all the way through properly :)

  2. It’s nice to hear from you again (even if I’m the one behind in reading your posts)! I’m glad the break was beneficial for you – it sounds like you made some good progress with your writing, although that would’ve been so annoying to lose your work. And, I do really relate to this sentence: ‘Life changes and decisions tend to be ever-present.’ I’ve been finding that too. :)

    And praise God my post was encouraging to you – it always humbles me to know that people read what I share. xx

    1. Your words are so encouraging! Especially what you said about progress in your comment; I didn’t think of it that way till now, but it makes me feel better about the work I did. Perspective is a wonderful thing :)
      And I always love reading your posts! You have a talent for words and photography both.
      Thank you so much for your lovely comment :)

  3. I have lost a lot of work in my documents, and, I’m telling you, it’s the WORST. There’s no way to describe the absolute frustration of having to do it over. I’m so sorry you lost all of your edits! I would probably throw my computer down a flight of stairs…. XD At least, I would want to. Probably not. ;) It totally can be discouraging and puts such a huge damper on writing the story. But I’m sure you’ll be able to jump back once the time is right! :D
    That is so great that you’re doing a new story just for the fun of it! I think it’s important to have those! Especially ones where you have no idea where they’re going. That just adds to the fun. ;)
    -Emma-
    P.S. The pictures you included are really pretty! :)

    1. Oh! I’m sorry you lost work too! It is so discouraging to have hours of hard work just disappear all of a sudden like that…I can understand wanting to throw it down stairs! My reaction was more of a mournful talk to my computer about how it let me down, hehe.
      Slowing down and letting this new story tell itself has really taught me to remember to find inspiration from the characters themselves. Plus, like you said, it’s more fun!
      I’m glad you liked the pictures! I’m camera-sitting for a friend, and it’s been a lot of fun to play with.
      Thanks so much for stopping by, Emma! Your comment made me feel so much better :D

  4. Oh my, that must have been hard!! Thankfully, I’ve never lost an entire draft of my writing, though I will confess to it being my worst nightmare.

    And, I think stalking my own word count has been a bit of a stumbling block for me as well. I always teeter between convincing myself the word count doesn’t matter at this point or, on the opposing spectrum, obsessing over making sure I make my ideal word count goal for each chapter. It’s a fine balance. You’re card idea for hiding the word count is brilliant. I may borrow it.

    Now, excuse me while I go re-watch Downton Abbey. I never finished all the series, but Series 2 and the episodes I saw from the final series are some of my favorites.

    1. Even though it was frustrating seeing that rough draft again, I did have to remind myself to be grateful I hadn’t lost the whole thing! I do hope that never happens to either of us — I can’t imagine how it would feel.
      It can be so hard to keep the word count in its place, especially like you said with the chapters… I still worry over that, but hopefully this “freeform” practice will help me become better at gauging length without being dependent on the wordcount. I hope the card works for you!
      Ah! I was hoping the last season of Downton Abbey was good. I’m glad to hear you liked it! It’s always nice when TV shows really put effort into ending well.
      Thanks so much for your comment and reading along! :)

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