Monday, January 25, 2010

But it's so hard!

Some people write a book, front to back, making no changes because it is all terrific, and go on to sell it easily. (I have already altered some words in that sentence, so clearly I am not that person.) Some people work on each sentence, crafting it until it is perfection, before moving on to the next. (I made that first sentence change after I started the second, so evidently, I am not that kind of writer, either.)

Some people write upwards of 2500 words a day, every day, without fail, finishing their books in a reasonable time, sometime in the same decade as the one in which they started their books. (I certainly don’t write that much in one day on a regular basis—my brain usually empties out after five pages, tops.) Some write one page a day, which still gets a book done in a year. (It sounds like a great plan, and probably is, for one more disciplined than I. I could never stop while I was on a roll.)

Every writer has his or her own method. Some people write longhand (if I did I wouldn’t be able to read it five seconds later unless I had a really great pen that came with its own good handwriting). Most probably write on a computer nowadays, which is what works for me, since my computer is far more literate than I. It is also a big help, what with its “Find” and “Replace” features. (Sometimes, when I haven’t hit the right tone or have gone down the wrong road with my book, I think it would be better if it was “Search” and “Destroy.” That could be used for when I figure out which, if not both, of the two endings I wrote for my current work in progress should be obliterated.)

While starting from the blank page is probably the hardest part of the novel, or at least that’s what I have always thought, revising it can be a bear. Correcting grammar and spelling aside, when there are major problems to be resolved, or holes to be filled (why do they occur in the first place if not to take the space of something too hard to write at that moment?) the process can be beyond tedious. It can be to the point of brain numbing, a condition which works its synapse deadening way from my head down to my fingertips, that part of my body that does the actual writing.

It’s so hard. It’s so much easier to write it all, the whole story, front to back, mistakes, literary warts, and blunders, then change them, instead of taking the time to do it right the first time as it is being written. At least that’s what I say when I’m committing this huge rush-through-it first draft mistake that will take me as long to correct as it took to write. Afterward, I realize I’m in trouble. In my logical mind I know making the changes is doable; after all, I do have the find function, so I can get to any offensive part of the book within microseconds just by hitting that “button.” How, you might wonder? I mark them as I write them. Even so, in my illogical mind, it feels as if I am holding each of the pages in my hands simultaneously, juggling them. Sometimes it feels as if I am holding the individual words. How can a person deal with that?

I’ll be trying to find out. Wish me good luck.


Linda Rader said...

Thanks for sharing this post! I chuckled through out it. You are so right on several scores. And I note you did finish the post! Congrats on that. :)

Sarita Leone said...

Good luck! Loved the post, it kept me grinning from beginning to end.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

I felt as if you had channeled some of my writing worries! PLEASE let us know how your newest technique works out.


Shirley said...

Love this post. Probably because I can't say what I want in the first few drafts. It'll take me awhile to get the words right. And the plot.