Tuesday, August 17, 2010

making a difference

There is a difference between a book of two hundred pages from the very beginning, and a book of two hundred pages which is the result of an original eight hundred pages. The six hundred are there. Only you don't see them.  --Elie Wiesel

I'm fifty pages from the end of my first pass of edits for KISS THE MORNING STAR (and six days away from my personal deadline for finishing said first pass), and I thought I'd give you a glimpse into why I haven't been posting very coherent blog posts lately.  I looked up at my screen, and that's really what it looked like:  four documents all competing for my attention on my little monitor, a sixteen-foot-long banner of colorful notes taking over my keyboard, plus the eight tabs of firefox, my itunes, and three more documents minimized at the bottom.  (Document titles:  KTMS August 2010, July 14 melanie thoughts, answering melanie3, Hoole more revision notes, Editing KtMS3, scraps, kerouac quotes and sources.  Tabs open on firefox:  not telling.  :P)

This is exciting.  The yellow-highlighted notes on the document on the left of the side-by-side view (Editing KtMS3) are notes about scenes I've rewritten, progress I've made, additions, subtractions, successes, haphazard attempts, experiments, and in other words (as if that weren't enough words), STUFF I DID TO CHANGE THIS BOOK and, I hope, STUFF THAT MAKES IT BETTER. 

This next fifty pages, I'll admit, need the most work.  The world won't really end if I don't finish before school starts, but I know it would make me feel better overall.  I also know this is only the first pass--the first round of changes I've made for a real, live (and brilliant!) editor.  I know some of what I'm writing will never see the light of day, and in fact, some of it will never even make it through my next pass before going to Melanie. 

I've been approaching these edits with a very open mind, thinking of the whole book more from a "What if this would work?" or maybe a "Hey, maybe I should try that?" or possibly even a "Wouldn't it be sort of crazy if I went in this direction?" kind of mindset, knowing that if this doesn't work, or I really shouldn't have tried that, or yeah, this direction is really crazy and not in a good way...I can always go back a draft or two.  I have at least twenty to choose from, after all!

And now.  Yeah, you know it.  Back to work.


Lisa said...

Thank you for the glimpse into your process! I just began reading and red-inking my first draft yesterday. I have so far to go, but it felt great!

This post makes me feel all happy-nervous. I can't wait to see your finished novel.

cathellisen said...

Oh my!

Wow you are so thorough. And colourful.

Hahahaha just looking at that makes me feel guilty.

Well done on working so hard on your revisions, darling.

I'm pretty sure this book is going to be utterly fantastic and I CAN NOT wait to hold the real deal in my grubby mitts. :D

elissa said...

hahaha, Lisa, I'm not entirely sure you should use me as an example for process! My books tend to be...sort of sprawling (kind people like my agent say ambitious, but then she gives me hints about outlining, lol!)--and it seems like it takes me way more tries than some other writers to get it right. I do a lot of writing that, in the end, gets edited out. Still, I am learning, and I am reasonably certain that each revision thus far has actually improved the book, so I guess it will have to be good enough until I get better. :)

and cat, you do not even for a second need to feel guilty. your own edits are coming along beautifully; you're working in a much more graceful and lyrical way, I'm sure. all my color-coded cheat sheets are mainly because I'm too dumb to remember my brilliant ideas four seconds after I arrive at them! <3

loveable_homebody said...

I find it fascinating to know how people write and edit, so this was cool to see, but all the lines are your screen and paper look so intimidating! I'm also fascinated in writers' memories and organizational techniques.

This does seem very exciting indeed. You've clearly been working hard and making great progress!