Thursday, July 23, 2009

I 'Think' I Can, I 'Think' I Can...

First off, thanks to those of you who weighed in last week on possible color combinations for my exterior paint job. When you know you're going to be stuck with the color for at least five years, you really want to end up with something you don't wince at every time you drive by. Ultimately, I decided to go with Terry S's idea of a light sage green with ivory trim (Thanks, Terry!) as there was just a touch of light green in the brickwork and I wanted something that stood out in the neighborhood as being a bit apart from the traditional whites and tans that seem to dominate the neighborhood. It's actually called 'herbal wash' but it is very light and sort of gives the house a bit of a cottage effect. My accent color will be terra cotta which I think will work well. Again, thanks to everyone for their input and suggestions. I spent yesterday washing the siding and caulking and hope to be able to slap some paint on by the weekend!

Meanwhile, I am trying not to think ill of those individuals who were fortunate enough to spend last week in D.C. at the RWA National Conference. I console myself with the fact that I put the conference fees and expenses to good use and will have a new roof (pitched this time rather than flat) erected on my garage office where I can escape without fear of our incessant rain dripping on me or my computer. But next July? I'll be at National in Nashville for sure.

Since I'm in the process of rewriting rather than writing at present (adding about 5K words to one manuscript and having to cut another by almost three times that much!) I find myself somewhat nostalgic about the writing process in general. In my opinion, polishing a finished manuscript is about the most fun a writer can have sitting down. The heavy lifting is done. You have a completed story. Now you get to tweak, primp, experiment, and spitshine that puppy to your heart's content--or until you must hand it over to your editor. Writing the book in the first place is where most of the blood is let (mostly only figuratively or on the pages themselves if you write darker material or are having a particularly bad day) but where you don't have to be OCD about every word. In some ways, however, the first draft process can be liberating in that you don't have to obsess about anything other than the story itself--its tempo and pacing and logic.

But adding or deleting additional material to a completed manuscript? It falls in a very different category of the writing craft--located somewhere adjacent to the seventh circle of HELL! I haven't yet figured out which is harder: deleting stuff I've written and kind of like or trying to stick additional scenes into a book that is good but too darned short for the target genre. Which is why I catch myself clicking on the file of a 'new' project from time to time when I should be nipping and tucking or, alternatively, 'beefing up'--material that my agent has been waiting to see for some time now. It's a wonder I don't get confused and start adding to the 108K manuscript and snip-snipping the 80K.

You've heard it before but it's worth repeating. WRITING IS NOT FOR WIMPS!

What about you? What part of the writing process gets your motor running? Are you a research fiend? A storyboard devotee? Or are you a pantser who thinks if you write an outline or synopsis, you've written the book so where's the fun in that? Any tips you have on adding scenes to a completed book or deleting an equal number in another? I gotta tell you, I'm experiencing a bit of 'revision confusion' here so any and all advice will be greatly appreciated. After all, I'm painting an entire house based on your 'sage' advice, folks, so you know I trust ya.

Off to grab my first cup of coffee for the morning so I can have a steady hand for the caulking gun...

Have a super day!

~Bullet Hole~


Terri Osburn said...

Congrats on settling on a house color. Sounds like it's going to be beautiful. And I like the idea of not looking like all the other houses in the neighborhood.

I haven't gotten to the re-write/edit stage yet, but I used to love that part of writing school papers. I'm hoping that loves carried over to a full MS, but I have my doubts.

I have figured out that before every scene I ask myself the question, "What do I want to accomplish here?" Maybe if you ask yourself what you need in the story that might be missing. A scene to show some extra character growth or to establish something more clearly. That will give you what to add.

Cutting works the same way. Ask what you can do without that wouldn't harm the story. My guess is that's the harder one to do, but you're a great writer so I believe you'll figure it out.

Terry S said...

Hey, congratulations on the new house color. It's going to look great. I'm so glad you took my "sage" advise:-) I chose to miss out on it when I last painted as it is a color I really like. Unfortunately, every house in my neighborhood is already some light shade or another of green or tan. I didn't want my house to look like every other one on the street.

I'm a reader, not a writer, but let me assure you I appreciate how much work writing is. I savor the written words that make up the finished books and often wonder how hard it must be for authors to let go of characters they have put so much work and time into developing. Hope it is with pride! I had a boyfriend many years ago who teasingly said the only reason I liked him was because he was featured in a book. Not so, but he did understand the level of respect I have for the hard work authors go through to bring their ideas to a book near me.

So please accept my thanks and appreciation for all your hard work.

Kathy Bacus said...

Good stuff to consider there, Terrio. I agree. It seems to be much harder to cut scenes than add them. When adding it almost amounts to introducing a new element or angle to the story in order to add some 'meat'without it seeming too obvious that's what you're doing.

I'm finding it also means cutting some stuff you really, really like. I've been saving the material I delete. Who knows, there may be a story down the road I can use it in.

Thanks for the suggestions!


Kathy Bacus said...

Isn't it weird that there are NO green houses anywhere in my neighborhood? For that matter, there are very few green homes in town period. I have to confess that yesterday evening as the sunset I experienced 'painter's remorse' after I'd purchased FIVE gallons of 'herbal wash'. I kept telling myself, I should've gone with a taupe or beige. But I'm committed so we'll see how it goes.

Input and encouragement from readers like you, Terry, is vital to a writer's continuing success and productivity, so thanks so much for your comments. I still have to pinch myself at times when I see MY books on the bookcase. You're right. It is hard work, but I never fail to feel fortunate that it is a job that I adore.

Thanks again!