Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Timely Advice

You know how sometimes you hear a word you've never heard before and then you hear it again, in a different setting and different context, like three times that same week? That's what this week has been like for me - total synchronicity.

Only this time it's not a new word that's appearing again and again. It's advice that keeps popping up without me really seeking it on issues that were plaguing me at the precise moments I received the advice.

OK, let me start making some sense.

I'm in the revision phase on my novel. And revision is hell. Why? Well, try taking something you know is probably broken but that you, nonetheless, like the way it is. And then try fixing it so other people will like it - even though the concept of "what people like" is subjective and everybody likes something different. It's a nebulous assignment, to say the least.

Did I say I was going to start making sense? Well, apparently that's not in the cards today. ;-)

Anyway, I'm tackling revisions - slowly, painfully, prayerfully. And one thing that's helping me get through them is the support of the online writing community. And in the past couple of days, I've come across not one, not two, not even three but at least four bloggers who've been doling out advice on the exact issues I'm struggling with at the exact time I'm struggling with them. Not to mention that I got feedback from that agent (see Rejected!, two posts prior) on issues she could see in my manuscript.

The first case of this was a fantastic post by literary agent/author/speaker Donald Maass at Writer Unboxed on how to instill meaning into your work and what it means to take your MC on a true journey. Inspiring stuff. So inspiring I'm hand-copying an excerpt from it into my personal journal. And it really hit me where I was struggling at the exact moment I read it.

The second bit of advice had nothing to do with revisions, but everything to do with my writing career. It was a post by Lori Widmer at Words on the Page about lessons she's learned the hard way and how to apply them to your freelancing career. And since I'm stuck in a couple of different ruts with my own freelance work right now (namely the rut of complacency - I have enough work with regular clients to keep me busy and paid right now, so I'm not doing much [OK, I'm not doing anything] to meet my goal of writing for national design publications). That one kind of kicked me where it hurts - and I needed it.

The third post, a guest post at Nathan Bransford's blog, had to do with the first chapter and how crucial, critical, imperative, a-thousand-other-words-that-mean-important it is to get it right. That one came along just after I'd written a beta reader a novel-length e-mail about what was wrong with (the latest and greatest version of) my first chapter and what I can do to fix it.

The fourth case happened just a couple of hours ago. I've been doing much, much pondering in the past few weeks - and especially the past few days - about how to revise my manuscript. But I haven't been doing much actual revising. And I think it's because I've been sticking to the same non-functioning routine: I sit down at the end of the night, when I'm completely spent from a long day of freelance writing, housekeeping, wife-ing and mommy-ing, pull my computer onto my lap and open my manuscript. Usually I even do it in bed. So no wonder - right? - that I get through about two sentences before falling asleep. I was very happy, then, to read Creepy Query Girl's latest post, which is about her revision process and how she (literally) shook things up.

Seriously, people, thanks! You don't know how helpful you've been. Now as for the fact that my new struggle with blog addiction is eating into my limited revision time - well, I don't really think there's much you can do to help me with that. ;-)

No comments:

Post a Comment