Sunday, July 23, 2017

Revision Is Hard (for me)

I am in a 12-week manuscript class and we just passed the halfway mark.

It is an amazing experience with Ariel Gore at the helm, and a group of skilled writers with so many good stories to tell. There are writing exercises, prompts, feedback, reading other authors' words, resources Q&As, and more.

It is very helpful and my project is moving forward.

Moving forward and away from me and I chase it and I catch up and more comes along and I see many possibilities. Building that onto the revelations and experience at Writing by Writers Methow Valley retreat/workshop in May, which built onto Corporeal Writing workshops with Lidia Yuknavitch and Domi, which built on earlier workshops with Ariel in the Literary Kitchen.

Possibilities for strengthening my writing, making words clearer and the stories pop and sizzle and feel right.

And, still, I am not daunted by the new material. I am excited to work in lost or forgotten details. To take a couple of found threads of my stories to weave them together. To work with memory and storytelling and, well, you'll have to wait and see. I am excited to make changes.

Once in a while that little critical voice comes along which whispers (or yells, although its voice is losing power) that I can't/shouldn't/won't/don't dare write this thing into completion. It brings up doubts and fears and old confusion of responsibility and truth and wonder and forgetting.

The forgetting is the harder part. Forgetting is easy and it used to be that forgetting happened without notice, without any signal, and celebration or achievement slipped away, too. Not just the hard stuff but the good stuff, too. It all slipped away between a blink and a breath, shut in a room far away out of sight out of thought. Never happened in the consciousness.

But it did. But it didn't.

Now things don't slip away so easily. Now that critical voice is quieter and sometimes it gets lost in the successes and the stories and its stories have lost a lot of their power. It's good.

It's not easy. And when I go through these stories I've written and am writing. When I relive them and remember and the sensations run through me, through my corporeal being, the trick is to let them pass through and not get stuck.

But doubt doesn't go away that easily. It may never be totally gone for me. The goal is to quiet the doubt and the confusion, and let confidence and skillful means take the lead, the louder voice.

While I work on the stories of times when confidence and skillful means meant basic survival.

Revising the stories for flow and word choice and pacing and clarity. Revising heartbeats and breath, movement and stagnation, making room for readers. And me.

It may be hard, but I'm on it.

And I'm doubling down on the meatloaf and mashed potatoes. If you haven't read any of these stories, there is a ton of context missing. Just trust me - meat and mashed potatoes are in the revision.

This really was in my fortune cookie tonight!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Tick tock tick tock

I am a real writer.

Yesterday I received a rejection of a story I submitted in April. I thought it was about time for a response and, yes, the email arrived. Thanks but not this time.

Rejections are good. It means my writing is out there. Slower submission process than I'd like. But my writing time is mostly spent on the Work In Process (WIP), reading the writing of other authors in the 12-week manuscript online workshop, doing quick writes and writing exercises for the same workshop.

So, writing time is spent more on writing than submitting. Which is fine. But this was my last piece out and my goal is (somewhat sadly) to always have one piece submitted somewhere. Which means that my options are: find a place to send that particular story; pick another story and find a place to put it; or find a place I want to submit to (where I think my work will fit) and then find a story I've written that fits (or can fit with editing).

So. Rejection = successful writer.

Today I had some hours stretching out before me. After dropping S off early in the morning (hey, 8AM is early for me!) and having the rest of the day to myself until 3:30, ( was going to write.) I had Big Plans.

And I have 10k words due tonight before midnight, plus the rest of a writing exercise.

I did spend a lot of time in front of my computer. A lot. I took a couple of breaks from my writing-screen-staring. But mostly screen-staring, with moments of writing.

It is possible for me to submit the 10k words that I have as they are. I identified the section I am going to submit last week. Then I changed my mind and wanted to put in two other pieces, which meant pulling out a bunch of words. Which I did, but I had to write a brief explanation to fill in a gap.

I did get some rewrites done. Oh, because I was 222 words over the limit. So I have to at least get it under 10k. I cut a bunch of words, enough words. Then I had to do some rewrites to strengthen that story. And now I'm at 10,400. Sigh.

And how much did I get tightened and rewritten and stronger from the 26 pages? Two. Two pages.

Sometimes the time and the writing energy don't coincide. Or maybe it was because I was up too early and not optimal sleep in an unfamiliar bed.


Whatever. Dinner in 30 minutes. Then I have to return to the writing and see if I can give the whole thing one pass for basic clean up before I submit it to the workshop before 11:45 PM tonight (giving myself a little flex room in case of problems with the intermittently disappearing WiFi in this hotel).

I will commit to identifying either a place or a piece for my next submission before the end of this week.

And I will submit 10k tonight regardless of the status. After all, this is a manuscript draft class, not the finished product.

Okay, back to it.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Next 10k

I am preparing the next 10,000 word submission for the Manuscript workshop in the Literary Kitchen. I can't believe we're through the first month already! The other writers are inspiring, the feedback and writing is helpful; and Ariel's feedback and the writing exercises are awesome, as always.

This 12-week workshop is exactly where I need to be right now.

And it's working.

I am a little surprised and happy to say that I am having a hard time identifying the next 10k words to submit. Not because I have to write it all before next Monday. I currently have 98k written - some of that will go away, others words will be added. But I want to get feedback on some a couple sections as part of the 10k and I want the sections I submit to make sense and. I love having this problem.

I identified what I was going to submit on Tuesday and pulled it together in a separate document to edit. But last night, as I was falling asleep, I realized that there is one section with - um, something special, I'll leave it at that vague description for now - and there are several other instances of that special treatment in the book. I want to include another of those special sections, which means I have to remove something else to keep under the 10k submission requirement.

I can do that.

And I love having this problem. This workshop makes me happy and I am making a lot of progress on the book which, I admit, I might not have gotten to yet.

Thank you, Ariel. Thank you, all of the Wayward Writers in the Literary Kitchen with me right now.

Okay. Back to it. (Well, back to it after I'm done with work tonight.)

[My Bitch Media totebag arrived yesterday, which was a gift for upgrading my monthly subscription. So, of course, I wanted it in the photo. Look at my manuscript now! So pretty and colorful and so much good information in those dividers and notes on the pages.]