"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Revved Up

I'm definitely the One. No question about it. I'm pretty sure I've posted that image before but my present circumstances make it more appropriate than ever.

"What are you doing up?" the Chap asked when I emerged from the bedroom earlier this morning.

I mumbled something about getting back to the book.

Normally he has his coffee and breakfast alone while I loll in bed until sometime after he leaves for the office. But not lately.

Since returning from the UK I've taken advantage of the shift in my biorhythm. No matter what hour I go to bed--or to sleep, which can be very different--I've been rising earlier than ususal. I power up the laptop before I eat my breakfast and skim the morning paper. And then I start work.

Work? But it's so much fun!

Revelation: I write in order to revise. Fact: I don't often get a buzz from writing.

I love my job. I'm blessed and lucky to be a professionally storyteller. But like most jobs on most days it's nose-to-the-grindstone effort. When I'm feeling particularly confessional, I'll say things like, "I don't really like to write. I like having written."

And oh, do I have proof of having written. A massive, bloated, ginormous manuscript.

So far I've carved 7,000 words out of the initial draft, meaning I'm halfway to my goal of 15,000. That sounds like a large chunk of the book, I know, but not so large as you might think. As I said the thing is B-I-G. And some of those excised words will be replaced with better ones. I started my revision from the middle, working towards the end, because it was written during a steady, swift push. I had fewer concerns about the first half of the book although that might change when I get round to reviewing it with a critical eye.

So far I'm mostly doing basic line editing and structural work and condensing. I've diced up separate chapters and sewed them together. I've virtually deleted a minor character.

When I finish this phase, I'll work on other refinements. Continuity. Shading. Theme building. More delineation of characters and conflicts.

After that, I'll take a little break. Let it rest for awhile, clear my mind.

Next, being such a visually-oriented girl, I'll print out the whole thing. (The dead tree stage of revision.) Probably not in manuscript pages (double spaced, 250 words per page) but formatted like actual book pages. That way I can trick my mind into thinking it's a "real" book. It enhances my objectivity, and I can better tell if it reads well. I can see if there's a good balance of narrative and dialogue, or which paragraphs need to be divided up. Or spliced together.

So if blogging isn't happening much around here, that's probably why. I eat, drink, think, sleep, and breathe this novel.

The other day--might've been Monday--my mentally unbalanced state weirded me out. About 9:30 a.m. I came downstairs with mug of tea, settled in to work. I was in a trance-like state. Much later I glanced at the clock. It was 3:00 p.m. I hadn't moved. I hadn't eaten. I hadn't even finished my tea. Which explains why I never needed to get up to go to the loo in all that time.

Since that bizarro incident I've been more sensible. I make myself get up, move around. Yesterday I even left the house for my music lesson and a Post Office and bird food run.

One more wacky thing. When writing, I quite often listen to baroque music--Purcell, Lully, all the hits from the day when my 17th century characters were alive. When revising...Lady Gaga. Incessantly. Yesterday I was refining a scene at a court ball with electronica playing in the background. I have no explanation for this.

I tend not to blog much about the writing process, and now you see why. So self-absorbed and airy-fairy and head case-y.

On Turkey Day I really should go cold turkey and leave the ms. alone. I don't know whether I can or not. Gotta do something while the bird is in the oven...but for sanity's sake perhaps I ought to sit down with somebody else's book instead of my own.

We're usually in the UK this week so haven't had to deal with turkey or trimmings for yonks. The Chap and the dogs and I look forward to a quiet, home-bound day. He's really getting into the spirit of things, wants us to brave the madness of Black Friday, in Portsmouth and Kittery. While in London I got a big head start on Christmas shopping. The prospect of finishing up before December arrives makes me giddy!

I wish my American visitors a very happy Thanksgiving Day, good feasting, and safe travels to those who'll be on the move today or tomorrow and at the weekend. I'm certainly thankful for all of you who come here, popping in from all around the world, regularly or occasionally.

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