Pencil to Paper

The Daily Life of a Compulsive Writer

The Victory Lap of Pain and Humiliation July 7, 2011

Filed under: Writing — katblogger @ 1:01 PM
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Second order of business:

Over the last few weeks, I’ve mentioned a ‘project’ I’ve been working on. This project – which takes the form of a novel currently entitled Strange Bedfellows – is finally done. This makes it my first novel completed without the aid of NaNoWriMo. I’ve had dozens of starts in the last few years, but this is the first to make it all the way. I started in mid April, so it took about three months all told, including IB hell for a month and a half of it. Like a proud parent, I will now brag about my child/creation ceaselessly.

Voila – my wordcount. Quite beautiful, is it not? At least, that’s what I thought for a while. More on that later.

Anyway, after the euphoria of my hard earned victory wore off, it was replaced by the crushing weight of fear and panic. You see, in a strange episode of madness, I told my mother and brother that this time I’d let them read it. Not just the primped and polished 27th draft, either – the original hot off the press version.

Why would I ever do an insane thing like that? I’ll explain. Usually, I guard whatever I write with a protectiveness usually reserved for nuclear missile codes or secret underground cities containing lost alien spaceships. My writing is mine. As Gandalf says, “You shall not pass.”

However, I eventually (during this same flash of madness) realized that I never let anyone see my stuff – it’s never polished enough for my liking. So I should just grit my teeth and let them see a crappy version before the craziness wears off, because letting a crappy version be seen is better than fixing it¬† up and keeping it under lock and key.

Basically, after a whirlwind revision session just to fix a few little details and smooth out obvious awkward bits, I’ll be printing off all 224 pages and handing them over before I can change my mind.

Now – to explain the wordcount¬†thing. I am a writer trained by the fires of NaNoWriMo. Sometimes this is a good thing. It allows you to actually finish something, to work on deadline, and to silence your editor when you just want to write and let the words flow. However, NaNoWriMo focuses on quantity rather than quality. Unfortunately, I’ve let that bleed into everything else, when I really should be thinking ‘quality over quantity’ when I have no time limit to worry about.

This was brought to my attention rather harshly yesterday evening. All this time I’d been gloating over my growing wordcount. I opened a book on revising I’d found in the beautiful 808 section of the library and winced at the cold, harsh truths it presented me.

The most important rule of revision: cut. Cut everything that’s unneccessary. The best sentence is the shortest. Concise, concise, concise.
I knew this was true, but it was still hard to swallow. However, I won’t have to worry about it for a while at least. For now I just have to shiver in horror as my family members actually read my stuff and wonder what they’re thinking. If they decide they hate it… I always have my trusty lampstand.