This blog is the kind of writing I do - directionless, off the cuff, goofy essays and hack short stories.
Negative self talk is super fun, right?
I picked up the work in progress and held it in my hands. "Just how bad are you?" I asked it. It stared back at me, the black letters daring me to pick up the red pen. I lay it on my bed while I assembled the colored pens, highlighters, little sticky flags and notebook.
I put Stephen King's On Writing on top of the stack of papers and said a silent prayer to Philip Roth that some of King's wisdom would soak through osmosis into my story. I reminded myself that this manuscript has already undergone a major rewrite after I took out a character and plot line. I was in deeper than I really wanted to admit.
I put my hand on top of On Writing and applied just a little pressure. "Please don't suck." It's a simple wish. Just don't suck. I'm not asking for fabulous or Earth-shattering amazing. I'm not hoping for a Twilight or a Harry Potter. I just want to finish this novel and find an agent who doesn't have a horrible time selling this book. Simple.
After employing another six billion and fifty-two procrastination techniques, I sat down and plunged in. I read aloud and marked up changes for about an hour. Okay, I could do this. I am doing this. More time went by. Was it awful?
I thought about the nine thousand and twenty-two pieces of writing advice I've read over the last few months.
Kill the adverbs. Choose the best adjectives. Lose the dialogue tags. Keep the dialogue tags. Show, don't tell. More detail, less detail. Don't forget to let your own voice shine through. First person, second person, third? Alternating perspectives? Cut out the backstory. And don't forget to eradicate that word was as much as possible. Is this piece lyrical? Literary?
And what about your query? It doesn't matter how good your book is if you never put together a perfect query.
It was at about that point when my lawn chair that has now become a permanent fixture in our bedroom overturned and I crawled gasping from the room. I think I tumbled down the stairs. A cat or three stepped around me. The bravest sniffed my face, signaled to the rest of them and they moved delicately away. They didn't even come back with their food bowls in their mouths demanding sustenance.
MathMan came home and found me in an empty bathtub with a half-consumed wine bottle and an Etch-a-Sketch. I wore my wedding gown that no longer zips and a straw sunhat, my red pen held between my teeth like a rose. The work in progress was stacked neatly on the edge of the tub. I'd planted a lipstick kiss on the top page.
In his characteristically calm manner, he surveyed the scene and gave me a half smile. "So you're making progress then?"
Something like that.
I saw this at Rachelle Gardner's blog. It's very apropos to what I'll be doing for the next couple of weeks.
You can bet I'll be paying close attention to the word click when I proofread.
Because it's not that kind of a story.
Happy weekend. While I'm staining my fingers with red ink, what will you be doing?