writing on writing: part five

Two things today:

First, I finished my handwritten notes on my draft yesterday. I’m not going to lie. It was a little painful. I wanted to do it by hand, though, because I figured it would give more honor to the process. Obviously, words written on a computer screen are still words. But words written by a pen seem to tap more into the soul. It involved a lot of post-its and a lot of flipping back and forth. I learned a few things about myself:

  • I prefer the writing process to the rewriting process.
  • My story isn’t half bad.
  • I fidget a lot.
  • I do have a certain amount of discipline.
  • I have somehow found people who actually make me focus.

At the point that I was completely whining, one of my friends asked how much I had left. 37 pages, I said. And my head hurts. His response was pretty simple: stay focused and you’ll be done in no time. So, I shut everything down and powered through the last three hours of the note-writing on those 37 pages. It felt good to be done. My writing partner had asked me the night before what my ETA was on the second draft, which will also be the draft he gets a copy of, and I said…soon. He laughed, but the second the handwritten notes were done I sent him an email promising a completed second draft by next Tuesday. Here’s hoping.

Second, now that the dust has settled on ending my full-time teaching career, both for myself and the people around me, I have been telling people what my plans are. I told my aunt, and she sent me a message that pretty much made my day:

I’m excited about your writing activities. Your grandfather loved to write.  He actually always wanted to be a writer but his life never led him in that direction. He would be proud of your skills and desire. Circle of life or something like that.

That makes me smile. And helps me to understand more about what I’m doing and what my dreams have been about.

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writing on writing: entry four

The re-writing process has begun.

I had to force myself not to look at my draft for an entire week. I suppose the first lesson I have learned is not to print the draft the day it’s done if I don’t intend upon letting myself read it just yet. But I kind of liked proving to myself that I have self-control every time I walked by the dining room table where the package from Office Depot was sitting.

I took a walk and sat in the lobby of a building with all eighty million Los Lobos songs I have. I worked for two hours straight on it and made it through about 30 pages.

The things that I have discovered thus far:

  • I like my writing voice. I had a professor freshman year in college who told me that I was a fundamentally sound writer, but that once I found my writer’s voice, I would go places. I don’t know if I’m quite there, but I definitely was pleased with that aspect of the draft. That was actually one of my big fears. I thought there was a slight possibility that I would hate the way it “sounded.” And I don’t. Not at all.
  • The huge discrepancy that I feared was going to exist in the beginning of Chapter Three is only a minor mistake in two paragraphs that should not be very difficult to fix at all.
  • Details, details, details. This one goes two ways. One: I was a little sloppy with things like hometowns and people’s siblings. I don’t know how big of a headache that is going to be to fix, but I’m going over it with a fine-toothed comb to try to catch everything and hoping my second draft readers will find the rest. Two: I am happy with the way I created the little details in my characters. There is definite continuity in their behavior, speech, and habits. That was another huge fear of mine. I thought that I would have left details like that out, but they are definitely there in the beginning of the story.

The strategy I took, as suggested by a few writers, was to never go back and read what was written the day or the week or the month before. I feared that it was going to create a very disjointed manuscript. I didn’t think there was any way that it was going to flow, especially since I wrote the first 150 pages three pages at a time over the course of two months. I guess that’s where the voice comes in. It definitely all sounds the same. So that was a relief.

The process I’m taking is involving the draft, multi-colored post-its, and a composition notebook. I’m correct grammar and typos right on the draft and writing questions to myself there as well. The post-its are marking two things right now: issues of continuity in details and additional descriptions are scenes that I would like to add. The composition notebook is a re-write of the timeline of the story. My original was in an Excel spreadsheet, and the notebook is just to give me a third way of making sure it’s all seamless.

So, day one of the editing process is done. My goal is to make it through all of the comments and suggestions by Friday. We’ll see how that goes, but that’s the current plan. I’m giving myself some flexibility at this point because my original goal was to have the first draft done by July 13 (three months after my birthday). Since I finished well before that, I figured I can be a little more flexible with draft two.