Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Big Project

"To be any good at all, a piece of writing requires the investment of a specific amount of time, either by the writer or by the editor." - Gardner Botsford

I am going to try something new.

I'm working on the Memoir/M-book/Wemoir (Lidia Yuknavitch's word). Which is not the "new" part. I've been working on that for awhile - although I am entering a major revision and rewrite of the manuscript phase.

I recently read Austin Kleon's newest book, Show Your Work, in which he talks about creativity and the process.

I love the process and I love writing about the process.

I decided to 'Show My Work' in the editing process of my M-book.

At least once per month (or maybe every week if all goes well, but I don't want to set myself up for failure at this point) I will write a post about my editing process. I will include resources here and there, quotes - for sure - and what I'm doing, how it's going. In between those big updates, I will be posting quotes or resources, frustrations or successes. I may post examples and excerpts - but that depends on the process at the time.

My big updates will appear mid-week, probably on a Wednesday. The other bits related to editing will probably be random, at least until I find my rhythm.

Current Status of the M-Book

In case you missed it, I did incorporate the gathered suggestions, edits, feedback for the current version of the project when I was in Taos. That was the only goal I took with me on that trip, if it felt right. After a few days of my vacation regime - wake up, shower, drive my spouse to teach her art class, pick up a decaf soy latte or americano on the way back to where we were staying, sipped my coffee while contemplating what I wanted to do that day (walk, nap, eat breakfast in or out, explore, veg with Words With Friends and Angry Birds Friends, read, etc) then to pick up my partner at the end of her art retreat classes - I decided it was time to break out the book and get to work. And I did. I was farther along in getting those edits written and entered than I thought, which was a relief. The only edits I did not do were the added sections. I had those clearly marked and I know what needs to go there, but since I knew there would be some major rewrites, I just left them as virtual index cards in the Scrivener file rather than writing them at the moment.

Which means that that version of the manuscript is done. And I'm moving on. I've had some insights and writing breakthroughs, and have identified some other significant changes I need to make. Including writing some transitional pieces and filling in a few potholes in the story.

Where I am right now also includes some structural decisions, as follows.
-- Keep it as memoir, with elements of creative non-fiction. Meaning, keep it real and make sure the story has literary merit, tells the story.
-- Change it to fiction. Keep most of the truth but give myself more room to fictionalize. Focus on telling a good tale rather than keeping to the this-was-real-how-can-I-make-it-readable approach.
-- There are currently three distinct pieces to the tale as it is. I have some decisions to make about tense and point of view. I've been playing with a new approach since the last workshop with Pam Houston and Lidia Yuknavitch and the piece of one story I tried it with, it really worked. Do I want to do that more? Or not.  Tense and point of view - major decisions.
-- I may take a few of the harder to write sections and write them as fiction pieces as a way to get deeper in the story. As a way to free myself a bit to explore. Then, if the book stays as memoir, take those fictionalized pieces and the (potential) energy and revise them back to the "real."
-- I was even considering writing part of it as a play. Look to the dialogue of the story(ies) and approach it from that angle.

This is where I am at the start of the next step, the next version, of this manuscript. With pen poised over the newly printed manuscript to mark and note and highlight. With this current level of editing I'm beginning, I need it on paper. And I printed it with plenty of margin space. I have to be able to touch it and see it and note it. The last version I printed was well-read and well-marked, and many of the pages have plenty of space to chop them up into fat scratch pads.

Yes. Now I've said it. I've been thinking about this for awhile. And now I've put it out there.

Let's get on with this journey and see what happens. Memoir? Novel? Script? Or maybe a good exercise in writing and editing and bound for even more scratch pads. Here I go! (After a good night's sleep and a long day of work tomorrow.)


I recommend Austin Kleon's earlier book, "Steal Like an Artist." Very fun, inspirational, and a good read. I also recommend "Show Your Work." I'm glad I didn't realize it was a 'how to promote yourself and your work' book for those who don't like self-promotion, before I read it or I may have procrastinated. I'm glad I didn't. It's a book about process. Did I tell you that I like "the process?"

Watch the trailer for "Show Your Work" below and then check back here and I will update you on my process. My editing process. My editing of the M-book -- strike that -- the Memoir/Wemoir.

Show Your Work! Book Trailer from Austin Kleon on Vimeo.