When I first started writing, I knew what I was doing. I had read many, many books. I knew what I liked and didn’t like. I was sure that I could turn out a great book…first try. (Stop laughing.)
Most writers get a little ways into their craft and have either an AHA! moment or a slowly-building suspicion that they don’t really know what they’re doing. Maybe there is something to this story structure thing. Maybe I should learn the mythical archetypes. Maybe sentence structure, rhetorical devices, grammar and punctuation, and cadence are things should garner my attention.
I got there. I started reading craft books: Save the Cat by Blake Snyder; Story Engineering by Larry Brooks; On Writing by Stephen King; Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell; The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler; The Novel Writer’s Toolkit by Bob Mayer; Wired for Story by Lisa Cron; Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King; and more.
Now that I’m cranium-deep in novel rewrites, I’m trying to remember everything. EVERYTHING. All the vast body of knowledge I have gained from craft books in the last two years. All of the tricks and tips and truisms from the masters.
I took a breath this last week and reminded myself that I can write, that I love to write.
It’s like singing into your hairbrush when you’re young. You sing with abandon, imagine that you are the next Streisand or Adele, and think you’re pretty darn good. Then you get older and take voice lessons. Your teacher exposes you to the great singers and what they do; points out all of your weaknesses and mistakes; and forces you to sing beyond your current capability. You crumble with the realization that you are not Streisand or Adele; you have such a long way to go that Carnegie Hall might as well be on Pluto.
Some people quit. They either get too discouraged or really didn’t want it as much as they want something else. Some people ignore the masters and swear they can sing (you’ve seen ’em on American Idol, right?). Smart people get to work.
But you should never lose that sense of singing into the hairbrush–that feeling that music is something from deep inside that lifts you up and gives you joy, even if does require using your diaphragm correctly, projecting, hitting the pitch just right, managing volume, etc. In fact, when you get to the point that you have absorbed your learning such that it becomes natural, you enjoy it even more. Not only do you think you’re good at it, you are good at it.
What I’ve learned about writing needs to become part of my repertoire, but I don’t need to sweat over it. When I write, I still want to be singing into the hairbrush.
Editing: SHARING HUNTER, young adult contemporary novel.
- Complete full rewrite. Revamped a few more chapters, and re-plotting some sections to up the stakes and to provide more conflict and more distinct character voice.
- Revise using Margie Lawson’s Deep EDITS system. Made rhetorical device note cards for reference.
- Deliver to beta readers. Emailed first two chapters to a beta reader for feedback on POV.
- Post Sunday ROW80 updates, Amaze-ing Words Wednesdays, and Deep-Fried Fridays. Posted Vote! Vote! Vote! and #ROW80 on Sunday; British Invasion: Donna Newton Chats about English on Wednesday; and High School Halls: Under the Disco Ball: School Dances on Friday.
Send interview questions to three guests I have lined up for my blog.
- Write two short stories. Revised another chapter of one story and fleshed out a little more on another.
- Read one writing craft book. Read two more chapters of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.
Attend workshop with Margie Lawson in Houston on October 13.
Work through lessons of Scrivener online course a second time.
- Nothing special here. Just read. A lot. Finished The Juvie Three by Gordon Korman, and read Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar (a re-read).
- Exercise twice a week. Got out my Wii Zumba on Tuesday and started going. Three songs in, I stepped out on a basic aerobics move, felt a pop, and dropped to the ground like that cliché sack of potatoes. I must have planted my foot wrong; pulled my calf muscle. Have to stay off the leg for a week. Ugh.
- Sort through photos and complete at least one album. (I stopped scrapbooking five years ago, and it’s piled up into a big mess. Moving into digital albums.) Sorting through house, then photos. Getting there.
How’s your “hairbrush singing” going? Do you need some encouragement for your goals? Feeling overloaded?
Share your woes and enthusiasm below and then with your fellow ROWers! Find them HERE.