I’m working on a synopsis for my work-in-progress and, as anyone who has ever written one can attest, it’s not a pretty process. This time around I’m writing a synopsis before writing the novel which means I’m not locked into anything.
NOT LOCKED INTO ANYTHING = EVERYTHING IS A POSSIBILITY
Or another way to describe it: SQUIRREL BRAIN FREE-FOR-ALL
My ADD tendencies are having a blast-y as I try to reconcile my rough outline with all the brand new shiny ideas firing in my brain.
ZIP ZAP ZOOP.
However, I did make progress today. And when I’d had enough of ye olde synopsis, I put Emma on her leash and we went for a run on the trails.
Nothing clears the squirrel from one’s brain like a run over uneven terrain.
For me, when I ‘discover’ a story,
there is a feeling of buoyancy and clarity,
perhaps similar to early morning out on a prairie highway,
when darkness lifts and reveals
the outline of farmhouses and copses of trees in the distance.
~ David Bergen
Image from Pexels.com
Actually, unlike Dug the Dog from the movie UP, I maintained my focus today. I woke this morning with a game plan for working on opening pages of a new middle-grade, and I kept to that schedule. I made good progress and am feeling (slightly) less nervous about sending those pages (plus more) to my critique group on Monday.
I declare today a WIN for this writer.
I’m working on my new-old middle-grade project, one I partially drafted and then set aside for six years. It’s been a slow process as I reenter this manuscript, but not painfully so. It’s more of a satisfying slowness as I put down words that, at times, feel very close to being just right.
Image from pexels.com
Who knows? Those words may end up being absolutely wrong.
But right now it doesn’t matter. Right now I’m allowing myself to enjoy the slow, deliberate movement of this particular story’s metamorphosis.
That right there is progress.
I grabbed my copy of WRITERS DREAMING from the shelf and opened it in hopes of finding something interesting/insightful to share here today. I wasn’t searching for anything in particular and within a couple minutes, I happened upon these two excerpts:
I’m the kind of writer who doesn’t take notes.
I tell myself, trust the unconscious.
If something is important enough in my unconscious life I will remember.
It will come to me when I need it.
So I don’t keep a notebook of good lines, good thoughts or dreams.
~ Bharati Mukherjee in WRITERS DREAMING
Usually I don’t take notes
even when I have an idea for a story until I actually sit down to do it.
Because I always have felt that I have so many ideas that the ones that are important to me, that really are good, will stay.
And the other stuff will fade.
That’s kind of a filing system.
If it was not that interesting, or not that good an idea, if it had a germ of something good in it, that part will come back.
It’ll be in there somewhere.
~ John Sayles in WRITERS DREAMING
What the hell? No notes? Because the unconscious? And because bad will fade away and good will make itself known?
Who are these writers with their functioning memories and bizarre confidence in their abilities?!
I can’t imagine life without notebooks.
I have a variety of notebooks in a drawer, waiting for me to pull them out to write down all sorts of things inside. The good, bad, and everything in between. It’s how I sort out what’s what and who’s who in my stories. Notebooks help me navigate the oftentimes confusing dance of ideas going on in my head.
I take notes because I’m that kind of writer.
I’ve written lots of stuff over the years and have quite a few thumb drives.
Going back to locate an old project used to be a pain in the ass. Well, not anymore! I FINALLY took the time to index my various drives and to move files around so that none of those projects are on multiple drives. (In case you’re judging me, I challenge anyone to work on a project off-and-on over the years and still maintain a pristine filing system. And yes, I do know about the cloud. Much of this stuff’s out there, too, but that’s a task for another day.)
Right now I’m very satisfied with my little box of thumb drives and index. Never underestimate the power of organizational wizardry. The world feels very bleak right now, and little victories such as this can stop me from running into traffic.
I don’t think the goal is, ‘How big a star did you ever become?’
I think the goal is, ‘Were you able to express yourself?’
And if you’re able to say yes, in any field, you’ve won.
If you paint, write, do mosaics, knit –
if it’s solving that part of your brain saying,
‘I need to do this,’ you’ve won.
~ Albert Brooks
Guess what? Today was a win!
To be clear: I didn’t get an Emmy. I just like the look.
A few minutes ago I searched for something on my desk. I found what I wanted.
However, I also discovered a whole stack of stapled-together drafts of various scenes from two different projects plus a pile of chronologically-organized query versions for one of those projects. Clearly, I have a paper problem.
But even more distressing than the avalanche of paper that has become my life is the realization that all those pieces of paper had one thing in common: handwritten revisions.
What am I thinking? That the literary world will need those important documents for the museum created in my memory after I die?! That someday someone will publish a study of one of my books à la E.B. White and THE ANNOTATED CHARLOTTE’S WEB?!
I tossed all of them in the recycle bin.
Sometimes a manuscript’s revision requires a total knock-down.
Other times a lighter touch is needed.
Today my process feels closer to weaving than rewriting. I’m focusing on existing threads and interlacing them with other strands.
Note: This woman has a distinct advantage in that she will, without a doubt, know when she’s finished her project. When it comes to revision, I don’t always know when enough is enough.
Last night I found out I wasn’t selected as a Pitch Wars mentee and I admit to feeling down. I went to bed thinking I was a loserhead. Then I woke up this morning and reread feedback I’d received from one mentoring team last night, and the wheels began turning. When another mentor sent feedback, one of her comments dovetailing nicely with a bit from the earlier critique, the wheels in my head started cranking in earnest.
Did I agree with everything written? Nope.
Did I have AHA moments as I read their comments? Yep.
Can I quit this manuscript when it’s within my power to strengthen it? Nope.
So does this mean I’m embarking on yet another round of revisions? Yep.
The season’s last clematis bloom.
I exchanged emails with a writer friend about all this and he was a bit horrified that I’m revisiting this manuscript for the umpteenth time. His exact words: I think you’re the type of person who puts a band-aid on just to rip it off!
But that’s the writing life: patches of blue poking through the clouds, an occasional burst of sunshine, and a steady stream of self-inflicted pain.
So it goes.