A Light At The End Of The Editing Tunnel!

Today’s post is a happy one!

For I have found, and can finally glimpse, the light at the end of the editing tunnel. No, I’m nowhere near done with the long and grueling edit that I’ve got underway on my novel, but as I go I am beginning to see it firming up, becoming something less conceptual and more tangible. I know now what I need to do to make the edit count.

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I hate it when I read a book, and I feel like the author phoned it in. Come on, you’ve all read books like that, you know you have. What do you think at their end?

Of course. You think, Why did you waste my time with this? You might even blame the author.

I commit to never wasting your time, dear reader. Both my time and yours are just too valuable for me to do that.

So I’ve come up with a poem to remind me as I continue editing who’s important to a writer.

Their publishers, sure, and if I had one their notes would be at the forefront of my mind. But even more important….

Their readers. We write to get readers.

If the reader

Doesn’t read

What the reader

Should have read

When a story went from concept

Living in your head

To words that might engage,

Enrage,

Or yellow on an antique page,

If what needed communication

Didn’t get to them,

The fault rests squarely

With the writer and his leaky pen.

So spend your ink wisely.

A Dispatch From The Editing Bunker

That’s not what I wrote!

Yeah, it is.

How do you know?

Did you write this book?

Uh-huh.

Then this is what you wrote; no use denying it, because this is what ended up on the page.

But that’s not what I meant to write! That’s not what I meant to say!

Tough.

Boy, have I enjoyed the internal debate that’s been raging in my mind. When what you thought you wrote and what you actually wrote, what you thought you communicated to the reader, and what you actually communicated to the reader differ to the point where your editor can’t quite understand the point of a certain section of writing, then, yeah, your book still needs some work.

There’s always, for me, that little bit of doubt that I let creep in and grow bigger, fed with negative thoughts and statements from this guy himself.

You can’t do it, my mind screams. If you could do it, if you could write what needs to be written, wouldn’t you have written it already?

As I sit hunkered in my editor’s bunker–the lady who edits my work doesn’t have a bunker; that’s just what I’ve taken to calling my room, where I mentally kick my own ass for the sake of what is (I promise) a great book, I try to remind myself that everyone must edit, even the greats, like Fitzgerald or Twain, and everyone has doubts. Push trough them. Review your suggested edits. List them. Brainstorm fixes. Put those fixes in your list. In this way, you can accomplish your edits in the way I need to; bite-sized chunks as opposed to humungous sections of writing that seem to have no end and make you feel like you’re swimming in an endless ocean.

Your Mind Can Get Hungry, Too!

Today’s post is a quick one. A little note on one of my favorite concepts.

When your body is hungry, what do you do? Easy, right? You feed and sustain it with food. But what about when your mind is hungry?

Do you know the feeling? I think you do. You’ve spent a while watching TV, a movie, the kind without substance, imbibing a tad too much, perhaps; your mind turned off to the world. And then, from its edges, the deepest alcove, the farthest outskirt, there’s a quiet but persistent voice.

I’m hungry, it says. I need to be fed. Teach me something. Let’s read a novel. Let’s find out something we never thought we’d know. We can do it together.

Always keep your mind hungry, and satiate that hunger in whatever way is best for you. For me, it’s reading and writing. For you, it might be math (those people do exist, and I’ve met them; I’m glad for them, because only with math could we have computers and the like, but I’ll stay firmly over here in the literature aisle, thank you very much).

A Main Character Leaves In A Huff

I thought, What should I write about today? And I came up with what I think is a pretty good poem. As a writer, I’m always hoping my main character will help guide me through his or her story, leading me to its resolution down what can sometimes be a long and circuitous road. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. When they don’t. it’s usually my fault, and it goes a little something like this.

 

The blank screen of a fresh page mocks

Amid nothing besides night’s darkness and

The tick of a ceaseless clock.

Time travels onward,

A cycle that toys with the mortal,

While my characters, annoyed,

  Sit trapped aboard

A London double-decker.

 

I consider ending them, all of them,

Right here,

The delete button

My own personal wrecker.

“You’re a hypocrite,” I hear the main character yell.

“First you invite us–my family and I–into your  mind.

‘Your story’s fascinating,” you say.

 “One I want to tell.’

And now you threaten us with extinction

Because you have yet to find

Literary distinction,

And you’re not sure we’ll get you there.

Well, fine,

We know when we’re wanted,

And when we’re wasting our time.

We will gladly vacate your mind

And find among your writery lot

Another aspiring writer,

One who’s got

The guts to give us our due,

Who won’t give up

When the edits get tough

Or when the words get stopped up

And won’t flow.”

The Fault In Our Stars–No Fault Here!

Full disclosure: I love the book by the same name written by John Green of vlogbrothers youtube fame. It is one of the best written works of the past ten years. Forget its genre. Forget that it’s YA. It’s brilliant on its own wonderful merits.

So I went into the movie, starring Shaiene Woodley and Ansel Elgort and directed by Josh Boone, with high expectations.

Expectations met.

The movie, too, is a wonderful piece. Like the book, it does not sentimentalize the truth of cancer. It lets that truth stand for what it is; often unfair and ugly.

Green’s best “book-scenes” as well as his most affecting dialogue remain intact here. Woodley is good. There was never any doubt she would be. There is a heartfelt–but perhaps too short–performance by Laura Dern as the helicoptering mother of young Hazel Grace Lancaster.

Elgort’s Gus is likable, at turns sardonic, always kind and affectionate toward our Hazel, always ready with a metaphor. The simple metaphor, more than his wit, and thankfully more than the cancer that took his leg, is what makes Gus who Gus is. You gotta love a guy willing to put a cancer stick between his lips but who refuses to light it, just to show his cancer who has the power.

I won’t give anything away. If you’ve read the book, you know what happens. If not, still see the movie. In fact, make sure you see it.

Is the movie better than the book? No, but it comes in a very close second. For reference, there are only two movies better than the books they came from, in my opinion. Those were Forrest Gump and Field Of Dreams.

The Fault In Our Stars, A Josh Boone Film, 125 mins, PG-13, 5 stars!