Thursday, September 21, 2006

Never Done?

"There are days when the result is so bad that no fewer than five revisions are required. In contrast, when I'm greatly inspired, only four revisions are needed." - John Kenneth Galbraith

Yesterday was a discouraging day for me. Still working through the Maass workbook, I realized that, according to his requirements for a "breakout novel", I was sorely lacking.

It was "craft day" at Grandma's for my DD, so I had several hours in which to work. I started on exercise fourteen... got frustrated. Moved to fifteen... got more frustrated. Tossed the workbook on the floor and jumped up and down on it. Decided I should just thrown my entire novel out the window since it would never meet The Donald's requirements. Stared at the computer for about an hour without writing a word. Made coffee. Came back and decided that my "career" as a writer was over.

My husband says I have mood swings. I suppose he's right.

The conclusion I came to (the conclusion to which I came) was this: I'm done. My fellow Maass workers will most likely be frustrated because I swore I would make it through all the exercises this time. To be honest, I read through them all and made notes of things I want to look for and correct. I got some good ideas on plot changes from the first thirteen exercises that I think will make the story stronger. I'm hoping that the information from exercises twenty-two and twenty-three (Low Tension and Backstory) have permeated my very cellular structure. By far my favorite exercise was the fifth (Adjusting the Volume) followed closely by the sixth (reversing motives).

I printed off the first third of the story and began to tear it apart in order to put it back together again. There is a contest with a deadline in a couple of weeks that I may enter this in, just to test the waters a bit.

This process has made me think about when a project is done. I wonder, much of the time, when does an author know it's the "final" revision? Especially, when does an unpublished author know this? I believe that something can always be improved. I wonder if published author's look at their bestseller and think, "Shoot, that third line in chapter eighteen is weak."

Completely off topic -- WOO HOO -- Charity finaled in the Golden Rose Contest in the YA category. Yay, C!!


darcy said...

I'm in a hurry today but ... nuh. unh. You dragged me into this. I think you have to suffer as long as I do. Talk more later?

Charity said...

Okay, 14 and 15 = really hard. Give it a try, even if you only make a few notes. I thought 16 would be silly but it really surprised me.

I realized that, according to his requirements for a "breakout novel", I was sorely lacking.

Excuse me? Sorry. That doesn’t work. Not if I used it for something called The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading. Seriously. It doesn’t get much sillier than that.

Marianne Arkins said...


I sent you an email.


YA is all about being a geek or a cheerleader. I have a society dame running into a dude who spits dead crickets. I mean... really...

Allie Boniface said...

Mmm...I don't think a project is ever really done. I think I read somewhere once that even published authors, yes, look at their works and find lines they wish they had written differently.

I understand the frustration, believe me. My only advice is to work on other novels/short stories for a while to rev your engine back up. If you still go back, still feel stuck or like it's not going where you want it to, then maybe it's not. Maybe the characters are great but it's not the right story for them. Maybe in a year or two you will go back and find ways in which you can save it or change it. It's OK to put something aside for a while. Don't force it.