Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The hardest part of writing

Do you have a brilliant idea? One that would make a great story? That's the exciting part, the fun part. Then you  take that idea and put it down on paper. Still not so hard. The writing process can be difficult at times, but it's also fun, especially when you have that brilliant idea. The story unfolds as you write, characters reveal themselves to you. Some people describe the process as a movie that plays in their heads. Each step becomes a little more difficult, but the creative process cannot be denied.

Now you're done. But that's not the end. In spite of your best efforts, you've left behind dozens of words that don't belong. Phrases that shouldn't be there. The brilliant idea has been transcribed to paper, but that doesn't make it readable. Which brings me to the topic of today's wandering.

Every story I start with the intention of writing "clean." Watch the crutch words. Watch the overused adverbs and adjectives. Watch for passive voice. In the years that I've been {cough cough} "perfecting" my craft, I've improved my first drafts, but I'm one of those people who writes with a mission. The story is in my head and I have to get it down now. Ideas flow faster than I can transcribe them and so my first editing pass is generally to make sure the story flows when I've taken an unexpected bend in the river. 

Mist on the Meadow is done, but its far from "reader ready." I am amazed, once again, at the things that I overlook on that first, frantic dash to reach the finish line, and now I'm paying the price with edits - the hardest part of the writing process.

Not that editing is hard, it's time consuming. I've finished this story. I want to start the next one. In fact, I've had two new flashes of brilliance (well, flashes anyway) that I want to work with, but I have to finish this one first. Otherwise I'll be distracted with the new stuff and never go back. Okay, I'd go back, but I can't market a book that isn't finished, and until I have the discipline to stop and fix as I go instead of purging the story from my head, I have to take the time after I've finished.

I recently saw a television show that referenced the shoemaker and the elves and I thought, how many authors wouldn't like someone to finish their work, the way the shoemaker had the elves? Elves that could do the editing. (I actually went back to my Grimm's Fairy Tales  and re-read the story.) 

Then again, if I didn't put in the time, it wouldn't be my story. Like any job, it isn't done until you finish it. So I'm agonizing now over every word of Mist on the Meadow, and it's nearly done. 


I will whine, but I will persevere.

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