Bless me readers, it’s been four weeks since my last post. The Pope’s in town. I’m feeling a little confessional.
Yeah, dude, what’s up with that? You drop a thousand words in a day, but can’t kick out blog articles in a timely fashion?
Well … I don’t want to just blog about anything. I take this stuff seriously, like all my writing.
Nice try, dude. A gazillion bloggers out there, and you think you’re special.
Busier than a chipmunk before hibernation, I was on the tail end of a new sci-fi story when a message came through from my agent. Small publisher likes a dystopian story I wrote couple years ago. Said it wasn’t ready for publication.
Don’t you just love that word; it has so many overtones. For me, going from west to east with this conjunction is usually positive to negative. That shirt is nice, but it doesn’t work well on you. I’d love to go to the concert, but I prefer to go with someone else. I’d give you the recipe, but I bought it at Wegman’s.
The “but” in this case reversed polarity with suggestions how the story could be improved, and if the author wishes to resubmit, they’d be willing to consider it again.
It’s been over two years since I even looked at it. Found it in the attic of unwanted tales, in the same trunk with never started story ideas. I’d written so many versions, I had to sort by date.
After I picked-off the bugs, I opened the manuscript with a new set of eyes. Writers are well versed in the benefits of pickling a manuscript for a few weeks; helps in the editing process, get past the brain’s annoying habit of blinkering an author’s ability to spot plot holes. Wait a couple of years; it’s as if someone else wrote the story.
I suppose you’re wondering what any of this has to do with not blogging for so long. It’s because I set everything else aside, and devoted every writing minute I have with revamping the story. You should see my unread email box. I’m going have delete-buttonitus by the time I sift through it all.
It’s been a long time since I sat in the dystopian trenches with the main character, Ryan.
How’ve you been, Ryan? Me? Well, demand for dystopia was kind of soft … don’t blame me, blame the market. Hey, no rude finger gestures. Great, he’s singing Simon and Garfunkel.
Hello DT my old friend, here to dump me once again.
Ryan had grown a bit since I last visited the story. He noticed I too, had grown as a writer. Okay, so I put on a few pounds. Ryan gave me a quick tour of the old stuff, pointed out some things he thought needed to go, scenes in need of better punch. By the time we came to the end, he waited patiently, hoping I’d get a badly needed aha moment.
I don’t outline much. Hell, I don’t even revisit the notes I’ve written. I’m a pantser-holic in need of a serious intervention. The trees were fine, but someone had denuded a few acres in the forest.
I never really liked William Faulkner’s advice; “you have to kill your darlings”. Sounds too much like a Stephen King novel, which I’d pay for in advance if he wrote it. How do you choose personal elements to ditch? The whole damned story is personal. Ryan’s shaking his head. That’s the problem, it isn’t my story.
Whoa, Ryan, when did you get so lucubratory? Stop laughing. I searched several minutes to find that word. Fine, the editor thought I was prone to a bit of fancy word syndrome and varying word choices that interfered with the character’s voice. Put the butane lighter down, Ryan, you’re not going burn my thesaurus. Holy shit … that sucker disappeared faster than magician’s dust.
What’s with the new pair of running shoes? I don’t jog anymore. I’ll need these for pacing, he said. Readers in this age group have the attention span of a gnat. We don’t have time to stop and smell plot-slowing flowers on this journey.
Too much back-story, but readers need to know this stuff. How will they envision my world if I don’t spell it out for them? It’s like cooking, Ryan said. Sprinkle judiciously, tasting along the way. Don’t pour ingredients all at the same time. And stop writing as if readers can’t figure a few things out on their own. He pointed to chapter three. Let’s start here.
Having put Ryan in charge is exhausting. He’s shown me a vulnerable side that I didn’t know he had. He’s exposing places I’d never been before, edgier, and darker, with people I never introduced in the first draft, people I wouldn’t want to meet.
Ryan and I know it’s still a long shot. No guarantees in author world, even with rewrites.
Ryan’s waving. Got to go. Got a book to fix, and I’m only halfway there.
This time, I’m not going to let him down.