No, not that kind of red. Red ink. I use a red pen for my hard copy edits, and boy is this thing red.
But to me that’s a good thing. Red is a vibrant and moving color. Red means change. Red means “more better.”
The only problem is…that my eyes are turning red from all the up, down, sideways of looking from page to screen. I wish there were a better way. If anyone knows one, please, please tell me.
Anyhoo, off to more o’ that writer stuff.
“Meet the Robinsons” has to be one of my all time favorite kids movies. I know I’ve mentioned this before, in the “keep moving forward” post, but its message is so universally beneficial that I must bring it up again.
There is a wonderful scene at the Robinson household where a young Lewis tries to fix a “peanut butter and jelly gun”. Subsequently the repair fails, and the gun splatters everyone in the room. Lewis shies away apologizing profusely. The rest of the Robinson household burst into cheers. They tell him that that is one of the best failures they have ever seen, and that only by failing can we truly learn.
This is an undeniable universal truth.
Recently I entered a very big writing contest. After not hearing anything for months I finally got the rejection letter that I was half expecting. Though the irrational part of my brain created dreams of what winning this contest could do for me. It could have propelled my writing career, Might have given me the notoriety I need, or just recognition that a writer so greatly desires. If nothing else it would have given me some much needed cash.
Alas…no such luck.
I spent some time dwelling on this loss, which I often do when anything deflating happens. A day or two later I received an email from the contest director sending me a link to David Farlands blog.
Here I found a wealth of writing tips that I had not seen before. In particular tips for the editing phase, ways to spruce up your writing. So, I threw away my feelings of defeat, and sat down to learn as much as I possibly could.
In a way perhaps I did win that contest. If I had actually won, then I might not have been directed to David’s site at the exact moment that I’m sitting down for major edits on my current novel.
I’m sure I’ll have a lot more failures…Good…that means I can make my writing the best as it can be.
This is a little post before I need to get some stuff done.
I Realize I haven’t posted much in the last week. There are reasons. I wouldn’t necessarily call them good reasons, but they are reasons none the less.
For one, It has been very grey here. I am very reactive to the weather, unfortunately. This is the primary reason I live in southern California. I grew up on the east coast, but as soon as I could I moved out to sunnier climates. Whenever the clouds are hovering, my mood and productivity slow to about the speed of a snail climbing a salt lick.
Secondly I received a major contest rejection the other day, and though I always become stronger after such rejections, there is a slight cooldown immediately after. I am going to put up a much more in depth post about what we learn from failure later on. Either tonight or tomorrow morning…weather permitting of course.
I know it looks a little funny, not really sure why this one came out weird. Oh well.
In an effort to stay motivated and interested in the editing process, I decided to go mobile today. So this ended up being my morning view. My desk was a picnic table, my car was a bike, and my office came with me on my back.
It seemed to work rather well. Whenever I got bored I just rode to a different spot. For example, this was the afternoon view.
I’d highly recommend this method if you have the weather for it.
I’m writing this post for two reasons.
First: I Googled the phrase “how to stay motivated while editing your novel” and I came up with very little in the way of constructive results. Almost every post popped up as “how to stay motivated while writing your novel”. Well considering I already wrote the thing, that isn’t very much help.
Second: Any thoughts anyone has on this subject would be greatly appreciated.
As of now I am trying my hardest to plod through the editing process. The going is slow. Not just slow, it’s like pulling teeth while walking on a bed of coals in an ice storm. Yeah that about sums it up. I’m only about a hundred pages behind where I wanted to be at this time.
It seems the biggest problem is focus. I can sit down and write for hours on end, and time just sails by. I sit down for five minutes of editing, and I feel like I’ve run a marathon. I become tired. My eyes get heavy. My mind starts to wander. I start thinking about other things I could be doing.
I tried going for a walk yesterday. That helped for about another five minutes.
I tried taking a nap. That was utterly useless.
I tried watching a little TV. (I’m guessing you know how that went.)
I tried eating, drinking, going to a coffee shop and consuming massive quantities of coffee. I’ve tried reading, and surfing the net, and listening to every type of music I can think of, and cleaning the bathroom, and…and…and…Blarggg…
So in response to my initial question…I have no idea…
I suppose when it finally comes down to it, editing is just a painful, slow process. The only way to stay motivated is to “just do it”. No matter how painful that is.
Again if you have any strategies on staying motivated, I would love to hear them.
I don’t know what other writers call it. I don’t know how it happens. I don’t know why it happens, or how to make it happen.
But there is a place that my mind goes to, while I’m writing, that I call “the zone”.
It is the place where I become completely engrossed in the story. No not just that, but I actually become a part of the story. I don’t realize that I am typing. I don’t notice that I am trying to write a story, or why. I don’t think about the world around me, or the things that I have to do.
I am simply living inside the world I have created. It’s as if I am standing in the shoes of my character. I see what he sees, I feel what he feels. I interact with the characters around me as if they were standing right next to me.
While writing, this is a place that I wish I could force myself to go to. Because all of my best writing comes from that “zone”.
For instance, I’m deep into the tedious process of editing. Many chapters require changes in almost every sentence.
However, one of the chapters I was rereading had very few structural or style problems. The story was solid. The characters were well fleshed out. Their interactions where spot on.
And then I began to realize. This had been one of those chapters where I was in “the zone” for the entire thing. Not only was I in it, but I was immersed in it.
I just wish I could figure out how to get to this place more often. It’s like finding a beautiful bright sunny meadow in the middle of the forest, and then forgetting how to get back there. And then having to wander through the forest aimlessly again in order to run into it. Walking back and forth, over and over again until I find it. And then it happens all over again, and art comes.
I realize that the post on grammar that I put up last night was a bit bitter.
There is a good reason though.
I am the first to admit that I am really not very good at grammar. I never have been. I was diagnosed with a learning disability when I was very young. It’s something I have lived with my whole life.
I have a lot of trouble with words like feet/feat where/were there/their and all of that fun stuff. I have big problems with repeated words. Massive seems to be my favorite. I have difficulty grasping the so called “elements of style” and the rules of grammar, structure, and spelling. I also have difficulty with the definitions of the words noun, pronoun, adjective, adverb, and the like.
Now I am absolutely not looking for sympathy.
But I ask the world, should I give up? should I retire and say “well it’s just not for me”. Should I lie down and let the dogs eat me alive because I’m tired. Should I stop doing the one thing that I love to do more than anything.
I push forward. I give it my best every day. I learn as much as I can, no matter how slow I might be at it. And I will never, ever, ever give up.
And neither should any of you. When someone tells you you’re not good enough, I want you to stand up and say “go f— yourself…”(or just ignore them, and continue on) say “I will not lie down and surrender because you don’t think I’m good enough. I will not disappear into the darkness. And I will succeed. I will move on. And I will conquer my faults, and my fear of failure.”
And always, always remember those who have helped you to overcome. For they are the unsung heroes in life. So thank you, Mongo, Jake, Jim, Nicole, and all the others who give me a shoulder to lean on.