September 12, 2006

Notes from the Desk of a Pseudo-Writer

Sorry I haven't had much of a presence lately. I've been suffering from a serious case of "I'm not a real writer and I therefore have nothing interesting to say" -itis. Reading new books I love but just ending up feeling like I'll never be able to write as well; getting a postcard back acknowledging receipt of a contest entry and knowing it only means several more months to wait for that rejection letter; never feeling like I'm going to finish my stupid novel revision.

I decided I was going about my revision all wrong, doing the chapter-by-chapter edit thing. My plot, I realized, probably needed some major help on the larger scale as well, even if I wasn't going to change the overarching themes/plotlines. So I'm just finishing up a series of notes outlining the entire novel, chapter by chapter and scene by scene. It will be about 14 pages single-spaced.

Then I will look at those notes and decide if I really need all that crap in there (probably not) and whether some things could be changed to make the plot more exciting (most definitely). I've already decided my characters could be less smarmy, and have taken steps to rectify that situation.

But now I'm starting to feel like it's never going to be done, and I'm worrying it's a hopeless endeavor. What if I can't be as good a writer as I want to be? What if I'm placing my hopes too high? I want to end up with something really meaningful, something that people will read and think about a little bit and maybe remember. I want readers to get the same feeling from my book that I get from reading books I think are outstanding. I'm ambitious but I don't have a sense of how that translates into my actual work. What revisions should I do? When should I stop? Assuming that, if anyone wants to publish this novel, they'll ask for yet more revisions, what is the point of torturing myself with endless edits now?



TadMack said...

This is not a pep talk!
(I had to get that out of the way.)
To me, your methodical and careful way of going about your edit sounded workable. For myself, I can tend to become over-involved in organization for its own sake... if you've gotten to colored inks, or certain fonts for this or that, you may have lost sight of the POINT of the project, which is usually what I end up doing.

Take it in small bites.
Rewrite Chapter 1.
Don't be afraid to CHANGE EVERYTHING.

You already know the story. Rewriting can be very freeing at times; you're free to take the story a new direction, or your characters into new personalities. You've done it once, you can write a novel again, especially one you know by heart.

The only pseudo-writers are the ones who don't write...

DaviMack said...

Well, this would be a pep-talk ... except that I can't think of anything particularly peppy to say. Just keep in mind that someday some descendant of yours will be scrounging through your thrown-out edits with an eye towards publishing them & making massive amounts of money off of something which you thought was garbage or back-story. So there.