Wednesday, February 5, 2014

IWSG: CONQUERING THE BITS AND PIECES





Rocking the neurotic writing world with Alex Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writing Support Group (you can check out the group and participants here) . First Wednesday of every month.



You know? I like puzzles.  I do.

I like finding the pieces and fitting them in and making a picture. It’s fun. I feel the same about creating a necklace out of a pile of multicolored beads and bits of metal pieces. It’s fun to create a pretty or even a funky design. I do the same with earrings. Bits and pieces can be fun to put into a whole and make it something else, something lovely.



Bits and pieces aren’t so much fun in editing. It’s the same premise. You have various
Victorian necklace and bracelet
pieces and it should be a matter of combining them into a whole picture. Adding bits of this and that to get a harmonious whole. Something with impact. A piece of work to take pride in.



Except…it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes the pieces develop teeth and attack you.



I wrote a trilogy back a few years ago. This was a story that stretched me. It was fun to let her rip and go for it. I challenged my writing chops for sure. Still, I was okay with it all. I knew it had good bones just as I knew it had a lot of stuff that wasn’t needed.



When I went to edit it, after the critiques, I had a path but I was new to this type of editing. It was a bit daunting but I knew I could do it and that it would be better for the hard work. There were parts of it that actually needed rewriting and that would mean changing chunks of the other two stories as well. So I took it apart. The chapters have been unstrung from the whole and even some of the chapters are in unstrung sections. It’s all in it’s own file. It has research files to compliment the design and some sparkly pieces to add impact.



So why is it still in pieces? Good question.



Cutting the extraneous wasn’t that hard. Trying to re-thread those chapters was overwhelming. I couldn’t understand why I was having such problems with clear thinking. I knew what I needed to do and it wasn’t like I was new to editing. But for some reason this project steamrolled me. Pancake flat. I had not a clue how to change that. The harder I tried the worse it became. I couldn’t understand why. It was seriously affecting my confidence and taking away the joy I’ve always felt creating and writing. Of course part of it was I was getting sick and I didn’t realize it. I was losing clarity of thought but didn’t know it at the time. I struggled on and made a mess of it. I looked at all the pieces of what had once been whole and cried over the devastating mess I had left. All those bits and pieces mocking me.



I put it away for a bit and wrote other things some good and some not. I was trying, and perhaps too hard, to recapture that flow and joy of writing. Concentration was becoming harder and my attention span shorter and there were days I swore gnats had a longer attention span. You know the thoughts that go through your mind at times like that. You’re a what? A writer? Queue maniacal derisive laughter. And no one does mocking quite as well as our inner critic.



That was a bit over two years ago. The past few months my creative mind has been sneaky and reworking things in that series again. I’ve even dreamed about it. It’s itching to tackle it. But, I still haven’t opened that file. 

Fear? Sure. A lot of not so great things happened during the initial editing phase of that series and are all tied into that file.



I’m smart enough to know you have to face your fears and that usually those fears are much bigger in our minds than in reality. I’ve fallen off horses, broken bones, and faced stupid and humiliation. There is a certain repulsion in facing that horse and all the possibilities of a repeat performance. But I also knew if I didn’t get back into the saddle I wouldn’t ride again. I can’t live that way. I’m not one to let fear of what if or possibility of pain hold me back. I’m not reckless but it’s a challenge I have to face and conquer even if I’m shaking in my boots. Always been that way.



Well, I’m again shaking in my boots but I know me. I know how my creative mind works. I know it’s giving me warning that resistance is futile because we will be opening that file.



Conquer or be conquered. 

I know which role I prefer.



 

20 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

Glad you are going back to it. My first (and only completed) manuscript was too long and I finally after many revisions had to cut scenes that weren't needed and move chapters around. I was glad once I finally made the cuts and rearranged things because the story got so much stronger. Good luck with your revisions.

Isis Rushdan said...

You should definitely tackle it again. Fear is natural and sometimes necessary. It's a sign that this is still an important project for you and that your passion hasn't waned. I hope you're able to stitch the pieces together this time.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

"But I also knew if I didn’t get back into the saddle I wouldn’t ride again." - this really says it all doesn't it? It's not how many times we fall, it's how many times we rise up.

Chrys Fey said...

I am proud of you for going back to your trilogy. I have a series of four books that is kind of like your trilogy. I wrote the first and the second. The second one I loved, but there was always something nagging me about the first one, so I went back and revised it. Then I edited the second book and again went back to the first to switch events, cut things out. Every time I did this, I would be happy with it, but then after some time went by that voice was back telling me it wasn't ready. I wrote the third book and for the umpteenth time, went back to the first. This time I looked at it carefully and added in events to stretch out the action parts. And finally it was what it needed to be. Of course, I have edited it a lot since then (just last month actually) but now I feel it is finally ready. :)

Your trilogy will get there too. Don't give up!! And good luck!!!!

Liz Blocker said...

Yes - tackle it again! It's well worth it. My guess is that you'll turn back to it when the time is right - when your head is clear and ready to solve the puzzle. And I'm with you; I love puzzles, too :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Tackle that bad boy! You've put it off long enough. But mostly you've had time to grow as a writer and can handle all those big changes.
That's what I keep telling myself anyway...

Crystal Collier said...

Woot, woot! Go forth and wield that writerly sword! I know what you mean about the haze that comes with declining health. When I hit that point a few years back, I devoted myself more to reading, and that reading ended up making a huge impact, for the good, on my writing. I'm wishing you all the best in your efforts! Some books take decades to complete. They're worth it.

Melissa said...

Go get 'em, Sia. Woot! :D

Cherie Reich said...

It can be hard to go back to a work, but you'll find it isn't nearly as bad as it seemed at the time. Time away gives a new perspective. :)

Liza said...

I bet after your good long rest, you'll find it easy to tackle those changes. Distance means clarity! Good luck!

Pat Hatt said...

We sure have to give it a go no matter what, even if we fall down, just learn another thing that doesn't work. One that does has to come along some time

Gina Gao said...

Go after it again! Good job on getting back to work.

www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

Kat Sheridan said...

Go for it! I have absolute faith you can do it!

Karen Walker said...

All I can say is yeah for you, Sia. This is such a powerful post in so many ways. You write beautifully. I hope when you go back to this piece you find the joy again. Good luck!

Elsie Amata said...

It's exciting to hear you're back in the saddle of your trilogy. I agree with you wholeheartedly, our inner critics can be just plain mean at times. Well, mine is..

Mason Canyon said...

You can definitely tackle it and make it into what you want it to be. Open that file and let the fun begin. I know you can do it!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia .. it's better to get up and start again ... they've always said so ... and whoever they are seem to be right!! Hope that writing bug is still with you .. and scenes are settling into place ..

All the best ... and you will conquer ... cheers Hilary

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Sia, if you have been dreaming about it, then go for it. Open that file and start your rewrites or whatever else you have to do. Your subconscious mind is urging you towards it.

Jeff Hargett said...

Methinks your role of conqueror is pretty much assured. Broken bones and editing disasters don't stand a chance. Here's to that series coming to successful and gratifying fruition.

Michael Di Gesu said...

You know deep down it can be done and WILL BE, Sometimes projects take years to finish. But as LONG as we keep going back the fear lessons.

My first novel is like that. I have to go back, and I will. Just no time for it right now.

Take the PLUNGE... you may sink to the bottom, but always have that life preserver handy, LOL.