I’m using Scrivener for the YA I’m revising and even with all its bells and whistles, sometimes I feel a bit like Bartleby. Obviously, that’s a stretch since that poor dude had to laboriously hand copy legal documents while I’m using writing software and a printer. Still, it feels like forever that I’ve been hunched over this novel, painstakingly revising each chapter.
The good news: I’m (mostly) enjoying the process and have not yet proclaimed “I would prefer not to.” Also? I haven’t alienated everyone around me and am not sleeping in a doorway.
Around these parts, we call that a WIN.
John Irving wrote in the opening to Trying to Save Piggy Sneed,
“Half my life is an act of revision.”
Ain’t that the truth.
I share Mr. Irving’s love of revision. I enjoy blue ink on paper, deleting the fat and plumping up the skinny parts. I love drilling down to find the essence of what I want to convey.
Right now I’m revising the first several chapters of my YA. Again. I recently received stellar editorial input on my opening pages that has allowed a minor miracle: I am reading the pages with new eyes. I’ve already worked and worked and worked some more on those chapters, yet this editor’s input changed my perception of what was there on the page. It’s as if her reaction to what she read is forcing me to “defend” each and every word, every motivation. I’m no longer reading the pages with the mindset of someone who knows the entire story and all the backstory, but as a brand new reader! I didn’t think it was possible to read stuff I’d already read gazillions of times with fresh eyes, but it is. It really is.
Wow. Amazing stuff. Yet I’m alternating between thinking, “This is so cool that I have this new heightened awareness!” and “What is wrong with me that it’s taken so long to achieve this awareness that any writer worth her laser printer should already have?!”
So, in an effort to be kinder to myself, I’m focusing on this quote from Ernest Hemingway:
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
Take that, nasty voice! I will prevail.
Saw this beauty sunning itself on deck rail and captured with telephoto lens:
The maple leaves are turning and I leaned over deck rail for a close-up look:
The Christmas cactus sits next to the window so I zoomed in on its delicate beauty:
Haven’t only been looking at lovely stuff, but am keeping my oath and making great progress on the final scenes of my YA. The End is in sight!
I’ve been creeping toward The End on this YA project for FOREVER. (Okay, it obviously hasn’t been forever because that would indicate a major hiccup in the time-space continuum. Not to mention that “forever” would mean I’d have even more wrinkles than I already have.) So let’s just say it feels like a mighty long time I’ve been working on this book, yo.
One of the reasons I’ve been taking it slow is that I don’t like to write myself into a ditch. I’ve learned that if I allow the words to gush willy-effin’-nilly, I often live to regret that output because it can take an awful long time to get the literary wheels back on the road. However, it just occurred to me that because I am only scenes away from The End, that I can’t possibly do great damage. Even if I write myself in a wrong direction, it won’t be any big woop. I KNOW the big picture and I KNOW how this story ends and I KNOW what needs to be written. If something doesn’t feel right, I’ll delete. No big woop.
So here’s my public announcement: I am going to finish those scenes this week!
I’m drafting a scene in my YA,
slightly confused about the sequence of events.
Then thunder rumbling in the distance brought me to the window
and I found reassurance in the sky; there’s confusion up there, too.
Me and the sky, just two peas in a pod.
Last night as I listened to this, one of my favorite Billy Bragg songs, it occurred to me the song’s like a mini-YA. Everything you need for a satisfying story, right here. In just 267 words.
THE SATURDAY BOY By Billy Bragg
I’ll never forget the first day I met her
That September morning was clear and fresh
The way she spoke and laughed at my jokes
And the way she rubbed herself against the edge of my desk
She became a magic mystery to me
And we’d sit together in double History twice a week
And some days we’d walk the same way home
And it’s surprising how quick a little rain can clear the streets
We dreamed of her and compared our dreams
But that was all that I ever tasted
She lied to me with her body you see
And I lied to myself ’bout the chances I’d wasted
The times we were close were far and few between
In the darkness at the dances in the school canteen
Did she close her eyes like I did as we held each other tight
And la la la la la means I love you
She danced with me and I still hold that memory soft and sweet
And I stare up at her window as I walk down her street
But I never made the first team, I just made the first team laugh
And she never came to the phone, she was always in the bath
In the end it took me a dictionary
To find out the meaning of unrequited
While she was giving herself for free
At a party to which I was never invited
I never understood my failings then
And I hide my humble hopes now
Thinking back she made us want her
A girl not old enough to shave her legs
** This video ends before the song’s finished but it’s the best quality version I could find on YouTube. Just a taste….