Monday, October 11, 2010

Yes It's A Craft(ish) Post

I haven't posted about writing proper for quite a while. And this has been remiss of me as I've been meaning to. Several things have struck me of late.

For the following reasons:

  • Lately I've been revising several manuscripts for different editors. I've learned loads from both. I respect both greatly because they've taught me such a lot in a short space of time.
  • I've also been looking at old stuff that I'd written and hadn't wanted to ditch. Seeing it with fresh eyes.
  • I've rewritten some things because the calling came to get 'em out again.
  • I've gotten my personal goals in order. Instead of wandering listlessly I'm feeling the confidence, the excitement and the love again!

This has led me to some conclusions:

I've definitely grown as a writer but even when I think I'm on an up curve there's still more to learn. And how!

The things my writing mentor told me in 2009 have held very true (and some) I just didn't 'get' some of the finer points. Happily I now do, boy was she right! It wasn't until one of the editors working on my book said the same things in a different way that the point finally clunked home. I have a strong voice, BUT I've been doing things to jeopardise its strength and thinking voice alone is enough. And just to prove I'm no sissy I'm not ashamed to admit my foibles - too much narrative, explanations, repeating myself, not moving on quick enough, not making things happen or thinking high stakes. This doesn't just impact on flow and pace. It loses readers people! Finally the editor in question SHOWED me how to cut, cut and cut again for great flow. She did it for me (with my words) and suddenly the lightbulb happened. It was light floodlighting a football pitch. So much for thinking I knew writing before. Definitely a 'doh' moment! Flow and finesse is what we are be discerning in the edits, make it sing!

Funnily enough the book that helped me 'see the light' is one that was pubbed before as a novella in an anthology. The difference now is chalk and cheese!

The supplementary good news that tags onto the above is that I can take this and apply it in the future. It's helped me tackle my other revisions without being daunted. I can SEE and FEEL the difference on the page. I know this sounds like waffle but it's true. I now recognise I need to cut HARD. And it's not as painful as I'dve once imagined. It's a brilliant experience.

So in summary for several years I was encouraged by my dream publisher. It never came to fruition. Since then I've loosened the 'aspirational drive' got back to basics with what I want to do (e.g. write the stories that I love). I have no idea if I'll ever stand a hope of getting dream publisher's interest again...BUT I know I'm more equipped than I was. I can spot my foibles and flaws.  I can feel the difference. And I would never have bagged Fantasy Publisher as I was.

In summary, sometimes God gives us what we need, not what we want.


Caroline said...

Wise words Judy. Pruning is never easy - but it needs to be done, and when it is, the end result *always* looks better. Caroline x

Lacey Devlin said...

Congrats Judy! It's always great to know that you've grown. I think I've done the same in the editing department too :)

Jackie Ashenden said...

Great going, Judy. Those lightbulb moments are awesome aren't they. I just had one about my conflicts. Something I know and have been told. But I didn't really 'get' until now. So cool!