Thursday, October 30, 2008

This is where it gets good

I'm starting on my novel rewrites this morning. I'll be honest - I'm nervous. I have this fear that I'm not good enough to make the book the best it can be. Have I told you guys about the book at all, other than that it's a book and there has been some interest in it? I've had enough of a response from agents to know that the idea is good and the beginning and middle are good, but the ending needs a facelift.

A facelift is a good comparison actually. I will be performing surgery on The Daily Dylanson Obituaries (that's, um, the name of the book. You probably guessed that). I have to add some things, remove others, tuck here, nip there, and then cringe when I think of the show "Nip and Tuck." But the agent at Joy Harris told me that this is where the real work begins, where the good stuff comes out. No pressure. Sometimes I worry that I'm not the right writer for this book, and maybe I should have taken up that other agent's idea of paying an editor to rewrite it for me.

So here's what I've been telling myself when I have selfdoubts. The beginning and middle work, and it's not that the end is bad, it just needs to include resolution for things that I bring up along the way. If I was a bad writer I wouldn't have gotten this far. So if I'm capable of writing a catchy beginning, then I have it in me to bring the whole thing to a close. To get this far I've had to practice a long, LONG time and, as they say, write, then rewrite, and rewrite. And then after that you rewrite. Then I remind myself of other writers' struggles. Sue Grafton wrote seven books before 'A' is For Alibi all of which (she claims) are under her bed. They were practice. Stephen King threw away Carrie when he was in the middle of writing it. It was his wife who took it out of the trash and told him to finish it.

Then I remind myself of my characters. I love my characters, even the dislikable ones. I want to give them the closure that you don't always get in real life. And I like writing about them so the rewrites should be fun. I just need to keep my critic at bay.

I had a post-it note on the wall above my computer that I should probably put back up. I took it down because Chris and I painted. It's simple but when I was feeling lowly and untalented I'd read it. It said, "Keep trying and don't give up." I used to have another note above my computer that said, "Talent is long patience." I got that from Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul, and I think that's a good one too, but "Keep trying and don't give up," is simple and to the point.

So, my children, I will leave you with a quote from Ezra Pound. If you're wondering where I find these poems and quotes, I find them on The Writer's Almanac. Amost useful and elegant website. Ezra said, "Man reading should be man intensely alive. The book should be a ball of light in one's hand." Do I like the phrase "man intensely alive" or the comparison of a book to "a ball of light" better? I don't know.

Onto the rewrites.


biggearhead said...

"So if I'm capable of writing a catchy beginning, then I have it in me to bring the whole thing to a close."

Truer words were never spoken, homeslice. You absolutely have the ability to make this thing happen.

Here's one for you: "We have been taught that negative is realistic, and positive is unrealistic." It is NOT unrealistic to be positive about your creative efforts. Put that one one the wall. (Although you can substitute "my" for "your," though I do appreciate you saying positive affirmations on my behalf every morning, for sure.)

Oh, and that Carrie/Stephen King thing? He threw it away long before he was in the middle of it. He only wrote the locker room scene at the very beginning and then threw it away. His wife did make him work on it, and he has since said that *gasp* - he never really liked the protagonist! So, a bestseller can be written even if the author is not sure about the main character, which means that all sorts of victories can be done even in the face doubt or perceived imperfection, which is just one more long-winded way of saying that I'm positive you can do this.

Oh dear, my captcha for this entry is the letters "fulatio." That is so wrong. So very wrong.

melissa bastian. said...

You, not the right writer for this book? Uh, it's your book! Without you, there is no book, and there is certainly no other writer that could make it happen. Maybe someone else could have totally stolen your ideas and characters and made a book with a different ending that was something like yours - but the soul of this book is yours and yours alone. Its birth has been, and will continue to be, a slow and patient process for you both.

Oh, and it's ball of light all the way.

Genevieve said...

Thanks guys. Those are motivating words. No, not homeslice and fulatio, I mean all of the encouragement. Doing the NaNoWriMo work yesterday helped me edit the book later. It greased the wheels I guess.