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Friday, December 18, 2009

The Best Laid Plans...

I'm supposed to be doing revision work. Instead I'm knee deep in new material for a story I didn't mean to start writing because of a daily writing exercise that my brain kind of ran away with. Of course there are other mitigating factors of a personal nature that have interfered-- cookie baking, holiday visiting, some illness-- mostly I just haven't been able to focus for longer than short bursts of 1000 words or so. It makes editing and revisions difficult to accomplish, but I'm determined, and as soon as I'm back on my feet (or off them, as the case may be), I will be getting down to business. In spite of the holiday season!

What's funny is that the story I'm writing now--in blocks of 1000 words or so-- is part of what could be the prequel to The Book of Generations, if such a thing existed, and I wonder if perhaps writing it isn't part of my revision process. I wonder if writing the new story is necessary for me to move forward with the novel itself. Maybe I need the background of that precursor sorted out in order to better put this first book together. But that's always been the problem with Generations, too. Deciding what information is necessary, and what isn't.

Something else that's funny to me, as I revise and reread, is that the part of the book I like the least is the part of the book that my readers so far have loved the most. I'm not sure what this means, or what to make of this information, or what to do with it at all. My personal feelings about that part of the book--a reimagining of Creation-- were mostly those of relief to be done with it, after I finished writing. It wasn't that I felt it was poorly written, or that the story wasn't compelling, but it felt more to me like necessary information that had to be there, as opposed to the story I was most interested in telling. It's the foundation for the book, without which the rest makes much less sense, and is much less dramatic. I guess I can see how for a reader, coming to the material for the first time, it could be exciting, but for me it was always just background. It wasn't the point. I wonder how many other authors encounter this?

But that's part of what I love about writing and reader response. I love getting glimpses of the story through the eyes of my readers, and seeing what they think is important, what they love, what they hate. Virginia Woolf says:
...the only meanings that are worth anything in a work of art are those the artist himself knows nothing about. The moment the artist tries to express his ideas and his emotions he misses the great thing.
In my revisions, I must be sure to keep those words in mind.

11 comments:

  1. Yeah, that can be a bit frustrating when your readers like the part you like least (or think is weakest, etc.). Most of us writerly-types are second guessers by nature and these sort of things only further fray the psyche.

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  2. Speaking from experience?

    I just wish I could crawl inside their head and understand exactly why...

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  3. I think that a lot of what makes creation exciting to the readers is just that: background. It's one thing to have thought out a background and then write the rest of the story with that understanding, and another thing entirely to read part of a story and discover the things behind it. That's part of what drove me to see the Star Wars prequel trilogy, even if I didn't like it nearly as much as the original. It was background, and there is something about the past of a character's life that fans always seem to go nuts about.

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  4. Maybe you're right-- I don't think it would have worked nearly as well as a stand alone though, as it does distributed through the book. What do you think?

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  5. I don't either. Creation was exciting to me, as a reader and as a fan, because I was aching to know more about this mysterious and dangerous Adam character as well as the Lady Eve.

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  6. I love that you just called her Lady Eve.

    It's like a superhero codename. Wait. Maybe I put it into Cost of Living as a superhero Codename?

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  7. Now I have to go dig through the manuscript and find out-- I'll get back to you.

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  8. on or around page 118 in CoL, for your records.

    I miss Thairon.

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  9. I have a new story idea that wants to be written, but I refuse to work on three stories simultaneously.

    Good luck editing! I had a heck of a time on one round of editing when I could only get a few pages at a time done.

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  10. Thanks Stephanie! Yeah-- this is challenging, settling down to it. But not entirely a situation within my control, so I feel a bit less guilty about it than I would otherwise. Disciplining myself to write is one thing-- disciplining myself to edit appears to be a whole different ballgame.

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