Friday, June 19, 2009

Like Beer Goggles, Without the Alcohol...

I'm aware that it's been, well, forever since I posted. I'm aware, in a distracted, inattentive sort of way. This is because I've been plowing through my ms, hacking and sawing, carving away some 40,000 words. I know. The very fact that I had so many words to start with that I could loose 40k of them and still have a novel is ridiculous. But apparently, I like to say stuff, multiple times. When it was first suggested that I get rid of at least 40k words, I shook my head. Not possible. It won't flow. You'll loose important relationships, vital information.

Well, now that I've stop snorting milk through my nose in amusement at my own high drama, I'll get to the point of this post. And the point is this: I've cut OVER 40k words from my ms and it's only tighter and better paced. And I'm still trolling. I was too close the work, too embroiled in the telling, to see HOW I was telling. I reiterated things, I nagged in places, I over dramatized, and strayed from the fundamental natures of characters. And I never noticed. Not until I let the ms sit for a few weeks and then looked at it with fresh eyes. What I thought would be impossible, was desperately needed. My ms is now hovering around 123k words, and might wane yet. It 's longer than what some say a debut should be, but I think 120kish is a good length for fantasy, especially epic fantasy where it's important to flesh out the world and all its workings.

I have a quote from Ray Bradbury written on a Post-it note, stuck to my laptop where I see it all the time. I've had to rewrite it several times because the Post-it has warn out. It says "You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." It's probably one of my favorite quotes. The trick is in remembering that in staying drunk on your writing, you develop writer's beer goggles. I'm sure that there are plenty of writers who never (or think they never) suffer from this malady. But I'm not ashamed in the least to say that I, for one, do. And all the more because I still refining my skill, still honing my craft. It's not all bad though. I believe in my ms, and the good of it was always there, waiting for me to toss the beer goggles and find it. But first, I had to realize that I had the beer goggles to begin with. I imagine that they'll show up again, probably already have, in other wips that I've been neglecting in my editing rampage.... But now I know how to deal with them, and each snippet of wordiness that I hack, teaches me how I might have better formed a scene or interaction, information I'll tuck away for a rainy day and the next blank sheet of paper.


  1. Fabulous way to look at it! (and I love that quote!) I completely agree. Sometimes you've just got to step away from the ms for a little while so that you can look at it w/a fresh perspective. I've recently done the same thing. Started back at the beginning of mine and realized a lot of what was there was total garbage. So I am totally revamping right now. I would love to take a month off in total seclusion and just write! sigh...
    Good luck w/the edits. I am trudging thru mine, but think it's going to take a while. Another thing that's taking a long time for me is that I started out writing in first person and decided I couldnt express my other characters enough to fully understand them. So, I am changing to third person. What a bitch! A lot of what was written needs to be changed now to fit the new pov. It's taking me forever. One of these days...

  2. Every writer goes through this in the beginning. All those lovely paragraphs of narrative that describe the places, characters and backstory must be whittled down to brief passages so as not to overwhelm the reader or bore them to death.

    Don't discard those pieces you cut out. Save them in another folder because you may be able to resurrect them at another time. And, yes, editing takes a great deal of time.

  3. Hey, thanks for popping by my blog! And I absolutely love that Bradbury quote. Grabbing a post-it right now, to save that one...

  4. Congrats. Sounds like you're really making progress. I'm having to turn a YA novel into a middle-grade novel, which is pretty much a complete rewrite, but I don't mind. It's just time-consuming and I'm doing it for one agent because I'm not one hundred percent sure it works better as a middle-grade novel now that I'm halfway through the rewrite.