Monday, June 01, 2009

The Manuscript

The manuscript is in a good place. It has come together in the latest draft and my efforts now are focused on polishing up dialogue and chapter transitions. It doesn't help to have a scattered approach, an hour each morning before I start work and evening editing sessions when there are no other obligations -considering the state of my social existence, there is rare competition for evenings. Nevertheless, progress is at an excruciating, glacial pace, which thanks to practical concerns cannot be helped.

What I've noticed happening is a shift in focus. Whereas in prior drafts I worried over plot developments, now that the story requirements are established I am using my ears to find proper rhythms for the story to unfold. If this sounds more like musical than literary composition, perhaps that is the best analogy. An unpublished author can settle for plodding movements on the page. These are less demanding on the reader and service the plot in necessary fashion, allowing it to unfold logically if not musically. I avoided doing this is in earlier drafts, to my detriment. As an insightful reader so aptly put it, I was too "precious" about my words. I've learned to let go of phrases I find clever, because they are obvious to the canny reader and all but obliterate the rhythms that allow someone to settle in and enjoy a story. By letting go, I was able to complete a draft and be totally miserable with it -which is not as easy as it might seem!

Being miserable with a creative effort is part of the process. I've had to put aside preconceptions of existing in some kind of blissed-out, creative zone when writing. Sessions like that produce a usable line or two, at best, and if I expect more (as I all too often have) the natural result of looking at what I've written is a screaming depression. By allowing part of the process to be harsh criticism of your own work, this actually enables forward movement far better than anything else. Mistakes provide richer fuel than success.

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