The comedian Kevin James has a bit in his stand up act about unlocking a car door for a passenger. You know how that goes, you hit unlock just as they lift up the handle and the stupid door doesn’t unlock. So you try again and it happens again until somebody changes the behavior. The Kevin James version is hilarious with the passenger uttering a never ending stream of “Now? No, now? How about now? Wait…oh, now?” until James finally screams in desperation and orders the passenger to go sit on the curb.
I think we’ve all been in that sort of situation whether it’s unlocking the car door, or waiting in line or egads, at the DMV. We have these moments that can be frustrating and a little confusing, and sometimes a bit ridiculous. At times it might be better to voluntarily step back in the moment, just to try another tack. Trying something new can be good it can stop the cycle and fast track everyone involved to the finish line. And, sometimes it’s just easier to go sit on the curb.
My problem is that we’ve had several years of crazy and ridiculous and I think I’ve defaulted to sitting on the curb. Somewhere along the way I got tired of asking, “Now?” At some point, I gave up and decided to avoid the back and forth, the frustration and parked my butt on the curb.
Recently though, I am finding that sitting on the curb is not that satisfying. And I think I’ll bypass the crazy part too. I am ready to stand up and yell over the top of the car. “Unlock the damn door! It’s time to move on! Right now!”
This is a good reminder and I will be repeating it as often as necessary. I’ve got a lot going on this week and it would be easy to just let it all go. I am going to stay on track even though I’d much rather build a blanket fort and eat Nilla wafers.
Last week, I rambled about point of view, and the tendency for people to be fairly rude online. Monday evening was spent on Chapter 1, switching my POV from first to third. It was easy enough, in spite of a wonky mouse but as I went along I realized that I really hate the beginning of this story. I’ve changed it around ten or twenty times already and so far nothing is making me happy. I moved a major event up in the story, which is a good thing but now I am still trying to cram the same amount of stuff into a smaller space. It’s not working.
Needless to say I am once again reworking the beginning and therefore, I am not any farther in my revisions. I am going to chalk this up to progress though. This process is definitely moving me forward and I can’t really complain because right now any progress is ten times more than a few weeks ago.
So, today while I was trying to streamline things and work on a new outline, I straightened out my writing space. It’s a fair assumption that sometimes I clean my desk as a delay tactic. I mean back in college the only time I would really clean out my closet was when finals rolled around. When you think about it, that’s pretty good for a college student to clean out the closet twice a year. Anyhow, I feel that having a clean, organized space is often conducive to getting work done. I figured as I sorted papers and put things away that I could let stuff roll around in the back of my head and maybe come out the other end with some good ideas.
My desk is fairly good at multitasking, writing space, household management, drop off point for random items from around the house, and of course, the gateway to most of my internet activities. Needless to say my desk gets overrun with detritus of various origins and periodically I have to clear everything off and start over. Today was just a minor search and seizure sort of cleaning but the pictures below are from the last major overhaul.
I built this desk about eight years ago. It looks really cluttered but this is how it looks when it’s clean. Honest. That’s Jericho snoozing on the corner.
I built the bookcase a little after the desk and modified it last year. I made room by removing the middle shelf and added some dry erase and magnetic boards to keep some of my visual inspiration close at hand.
This closeup picture is a bit blurry but you get the general gist of how I am using the boards.
The colored folders on the right hold my main notes for the different stories in the series that I am working on now. I’ll check to see if I’ve posted about them before, either way I will follow up with a link to the previous post or in a future post.
The stack of books on the left are various books resources on writing, I’ve even read some of them.
I have clipboards hanging on the inside of either end where I have other notes like character descriptions, maps, floorplans and other various information.
I got this set up last year but then ultimately stalled on my revisions. As I work on the new outline, I plan on doing more with the boards to keep me on top of everything.
I think next week I will post about some online tools that I have found to be helpful.
I am currently in the revision phase of a book that I wrote two years ago, well closer to three years ago. I started writing it during National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) in November 2010. I finished it in May and June of the following year and received a free proof copy for my hard work. I love my proof copies, they are so pretty and they have my name on them. I remember crying when I saw the first one, it’s just an amazing thing. But I am getting off track here, anyway, for the last two plus years I have tried on and off to rewrite this story. It needs some serious rewrites because anything written during NaNo is going to have some blah, blah, blah parts because you are just trying to get words on the page.
During July’s Camp NaNo I reapplied myself to making revisions. According to the good people at NaNo they count every hour of editing as 1,000 words. My word count goal was 20,000 words which equals 20 hours of editing. Sounds easy, right? As it turns out, not so much on the easy. I knew going in that I needed to change the beginning, there was too much lead up and I really needed to get things moving sooner. Ok, so I had a plan and I again I thought ‘this will be easy’. I got about two pages in and realized this was going to be a bit more complicated. The timeline needed to be changed, a character that had several scenes in the original version was down to one scene that wasn’t very important, scene locations had to be moved as the story evolved and the list goes on. The biggest realization was that it had been so long since I’d written the book that I couldn’t remember the sequence of some of the smaller events. Even worse I didn’t have a handle on the characters anymore. I remembered what they looked like and what they did but that was two dimensional I needed to refresh myself on how they talked and felt and all of that other three dimensional stuff. Clearly, I needed to read the book.
Now I have a proof copy that I could read and make notes in, but honestly the thought of writing in a book horrifies me. I don’t know if it was my Catholic school upbringing or my OCD mentality or my over all affinity with books but I have never been comfortable making notes, highlighting or making any sort of permanent marks in a book. We were encouraged to do so in several classes during college, I tried it for about a week but I had to really talk myself into it every single time that it was taking me forever to get my reading done. I finally resorted to using sticky notes and removable flags and that was a good compromise. I guess my point here is that I’ve got a pretty proof copy and I don’t want to write in it.
I could print out the 200 plus pages but not my favorite idea either. Reading from a stack of 8.5 by 11″ paper would not be comfortable and it would feel like I was grading papers. I, also didn’t want to spend $20 on the ink and paper it would take to print the darned thing out. The other thing to think about was the fact that there was no guarantee that I wouldn’t end up feeling the same way about making notes on the clean copy of the story.
After a good three days of himming, hawwing and occasional whining in Sully’s general direction I had an idea. Didn’t I read somewhere about side loading stuff (books, documents, etc.) onto my Kindle? A quick check of Google revealed that I did in fact read about this and with the help of the Calibre program it would be pretty easy.
Loading my book onto the Kindle was super easy and I couldn’t stifle the giddy giggle that bubbled up when I saw my book and my name on my Kindle book list. I just finished the first chapter and I have already figured out several things to fix the timeline and the character/scene problems. There’s a note feature on the Kindle so I can just click a button and then type in a few words. My notebook is also with me so that I can make more detailed notes and keep an eye on the timeline. I am actually very excited to get started on these changes.
Every writer needs a little encouragement along the way. A helpful word of advice from people who’ve been there can be especially helpful. The very groovy people at Shared Worlds have asked some of fiction’s writers, editors and artists write down some words of wisdom on their hands and take a picture.
Hand in Hand…
I love this. Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite people. I’ve only read a few of his books but I’ve been reading his blog and following him on Twitter for a while. I actually got to meet him in June while he was on his book tour for ‘Ocean at the End of the Lane’. He spoke for about an hour and a half before the book signing and as always, he was funny and smart , and really quite amazing.
I love his hand-written advice. It really does play on what I truly need to do. I need to write, finish what I am writing and keep writing.
Here are some of my other favorites…
Jody Lynn Nye
Shared Worlds is a creative writing experience offered to high school students by Wofford College in South Carolina. You can see the rest of the Hand in Hand advice here.
Today we will find a second installment of writing conversation from Kevin Hearne on the subject of linear vs. non linear writing. Kevin shares some of his experience with this issue, a few of Kevin’s writer friends also chime in.
Writing Encouragement No. 2
In writing, the shortest distance to the end is not always a straight line.
Click here to get the full post on Storify.com
Check out Kevin’s website to learn more about Kevin and his awesome books.
Here are my unpublished and inexperienced two cents…
I’ve finished two of my NaNo novels. The first one I wrote skipping around and sort of stitching things together. The second one I wrote in a more linear way and I am finding the rewrites on this on to be much more difficult than the first. I think the problem may lie with each scene and chapter being so connected to the next. There isn’t enough of a separation to allow me to wedge my red pen and delete button. I think it will take me some time to really get a handle on this story and get it rewritten the way it needs to be.