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Friday, June 29, 2007

Flawed Perfection

I am no good at being flighty. Lord knows, I've tried.

For the last couple of weeks I've been working on the fantasy, tentatively titled, "Touch of Fire". With great determination, I've tried to follow Candy Havens' Fast Draft program which creates a novel in two weeks. I can't do it.

It's not that I can't write the novel. It's that I can't turn off my internal editor. I'll grant you this is a faster novel than any I've previously attempted and I've managed to turn a blind eye to anything more than base description, knowing I can add more later. But I simply have to agonize over sentence structure, rhythm and grammar. My grade school nuns would turn over in their graves if I ignored the things they worked so hard to hammer into me.

Part of my downfall is due to my anal-retentive perfectionism. It has to be right the first time. Plus the fact that I'm afraid of what my critique partners will do to me should I turn in a sub par manuscript. Have I mentioned how mean they are? They delight in bloodying my narrative with red ink and scathing remarks. God love'm.

The outline is completely fleshed out and a sub thread has developed as the story is growing. It is racing along even if it's not happening within two weeks. I can't write that many words without stopping to weed out the bad narrative.

I thought about tricking myself and having a glass of wine before I sit down to write in order to relax me, but alas, I am a rotten drunk. Liquor just puts me to sleep. Which is probably the reason I don't get invited to many parties. One drink and I am ready for bed---er, sleep.

So I am trudging along at a snail's pace. In two weeks, I've put seven chapters under my belt. But I dare not call it the first draft. As far as I'm concerned it's not good enough to get that honor yet. My usual routine is to revise three times. The first round tweaks the language, the second time beefs up the setting and the third time comes after my crit partners skewer it until it's unrecognizable.

I've learned a lot about revising from Daw. She is a phenomenal editor.--the best I've ever seen. I'm not sure if that kind of editing can be taught. (But if she gives a class, I'll be the first to sign up. LOL) For now, I simply analyze her before and after, and try to figure out what she did to make the story fuller.

If I didn't have a full time job, it might be fun to be a slush editor for a while. I'm an excellent observer and a good analyst, but regrettably, I have all the compassion of a piranha. If you think agents turn you down fast, boy-howdy, wait until it gets in front of me. But slush reading is a good training ground for developing a keen eye and strengthening your intuition. It's why I get so much benefit from critiquing others. It's an excellent way to find my writing flaws.


rcloenen-ruiz said...

Hi Maria,

Been offline for a bit as my baby got the chickenpox. I got your email, but can't seem to find it back. Anyway, I just thought to let you know I'm here, reading your blog again. You could collate all of this stuff and write your own book on process someday :)

It makes for interesting reading.


Maria Zannini said...

Stop by any time, Rochita. Next week I think we'll talk about creating a logo/header for a writer's website.

Hope the baby is okay now...and you've caught up on your sleep.

Anonymous said...

If I knew how I revised, I'd do it right the first time. :-)


Maria Zannini said...

LOL...I'd still sign up to learn your methods. Writing is a journey, but good revision is taking the same road and making it feel like it was the first time. You've got that down pat.