Wednesday, March 18, 2009
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?