Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Love & Hate

I've got a love-hate relationship with writing. And boy am I glad I do!

Let me start off with two examples. Aside from my practice novels, the first decent novel I wrote, I loved. The writing was so good it charmed the socks off me, if I do say so myself. I adored it. I'd gone in with the intention of writing a book that I'd want to read, and I succeeded! I loved, loved, loved that book. Still do, actually.

Problem is, I love it so much that I can't imagine changing a single word. Not one. And my unwillingness to revise that novel has led to a couple missed opportunities that I now regret...but even if I regret them, I'm still not sure that I'll ever be able to change a word of that original manuscript.

After that one, I wrote another book. I hate this one. It was very personal to me--although it was a story about a girl falling into a parallel world, I wrote it after my brother's death, and all the emotion I was feeling at that time seeped onto the pages. I can't stand to read over this one, because it reminds me of the feelings I felt as I was writing it, and I don't want to relive that. Also: I'm very aware of the weak writing, plot holes, and poor characterization in this one--I know it has problems, but it has SO MANY problems that there's simply no way that I can revise it without immersing myself in it. I know the writing's weak, I even know how to make it better, but I hate that manuscript so much that I know I will never go back to it.

So, instead of trying to revise that one, I decided instead to write a new manuscript, which ended up being The Amnesia Door, which is currently out on submission. As I wrote that one, I was very conscious of what I'd learned by writing my love book and my hate book: revisions would need to happen, so I'd have to maintain an attitude open to them. I had to find a balance between loving my words and having confidence in their worth, but also hating them to a certain extent so that I'd be able to change them. While writing The Amnesia Door, I loved it. Loved, loved, loved it. But during revisions, I was ready to set it on fire and chant voodoo at it. By shifting my perception and feeling towards that manuscript between the writing and revision process, I was able to develop my strongest book yet.

Through trial and error, what works for me is this: love the writing in the first draft, hate it during revisions. This makes me eager to write more, develop the plot, and get the words on paper...but ready to cut them by the time I have to do revisions.

What works for you? Do you have a love-hate relationship with you work?

8 comments:

Davin Malasarn said...

Hmmm...Well, I can definitely tell you I don't have that initial love for my early drafts. It's not exactly a chore to write them, but it's more of an experiment, a test to see if there is actually a story there, and I have very little emotional investment there other than a vague urge to write it. In the revisions, it often alternates between love and hate and I keep revising until it ends up on love and when everyone else agrees that it's at least not-hateable. I'm in a hate cycle at the moment with revising my first chapter.

nomadshan said...

I've never written anything I wasn't willing to revise. That comes partially from my day job, where I revise my writing to suit my company, and partially from a desire to have a salable book when I'm finished. I've written IDEAS I wasn't prepared to cut, but the execution of the ideas I'll change.

That said, I don't write down to readers, so I'd have a problem if an editor wanted me to do so.

Robyn said...

I've revised my first chapter 3000 times(well maybe not quite that many) and now chapters two and three might even break past 3000 mark. I love the first draft but then I hate the revisions. Is there any writer that can get it right the first time?? :)

Lady Glamis said...

Are you kidding? I think every writer hates their work and loves it all at the same time. At least that's the vibe that I get from writers these days! I most definitely love and hate my work. It's frustrating.

So is your book out on submission from an agent or you're trying to get an agent?

lotusgirl said...

I love the characters and hate that I can't get the story perfectly well written to share them with others.

Willow said...

I definitely have a love/hate relationship with my writing. During the rough draft, I have moments where I can't believe that the words on the screen were typed by me I love them so much. Then, other days, I'll be fighting every word and hating the end product no matter what I do.

Most of that probably stems from my subconscious though. If I'm not very stressed and in a good mood, I love writing. But if it's been one of "those" days/weeks/months/years... it definitely shows in my writing.

beth said...

Davin: Wow, it's so interesting to see different writing processes. The love of the first draft is what keeps me going!

Nomadshan: I really think it was my own immaturity that kept me back from revising. I was like a little kid after making a craft--unwilling to see the flaws.

Robyn: I'm betting maybe Maya Angelou doesn't have to worry about revisions...beyond her, though... ;)

Glam: Out trying to find an agent. Keep your fingers crossed!

Lois: That's a beautiful way of putting it! I think your characters are lucky ;)

Willow: Yeah...it's so true that your mood can effect your writing--in good and bad ways!

Crimogenic said...

I also don't love my early drafts. I am one to never thing that my novel is perfect. I love it and all, but I think it could always be improved. That's why I'm so nutty right now