Monday, October 31, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Snip, Snip, Snippety Snip

Recently, it has come to my attention that my manuscript/baby is a little should one say? Healthy. Large. Pleasantly plump.

It needs a haircut. A weight-loss regime. To tighten and tone its not-so-tiny tuckus. According to a several sources, it needs to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 90-100K words to be most appealing to potential agents and publishers.

At 147K my baby's got back. And while that triggers fond memories of a remix of Sir Mix-a-Lot 1990s classic ("I like big books and I cannot lie, you other brothers can't deny..."?), I know I need to get out the pruning shears and get to work. Serious work. 30% reduction kind of work.

This, of course, presents a bit of a problem since I wasn't just typing "ipsum lorem dolor sit amet" 36,750 times. No, I wrote what I consider to be a tightly woven tale with a plot arc and themes and everything. So losing 40,000+ words is no small feat.

I did a first pass and managed to cut 5,000 words here and there. Apparently, I reached for the shears and grabbed a scalpel instead.

Now I'm faced with the far-more challenging task of big cuts. Forget the shears, I need a freaking ax. I have to acknowledge (and execute on) the fact that I'm going to have to hack out whole scenes, entire pages, characters, and parts of the plot that I've become hugely attached to over the past two and a half years.

Commence the slash and burn campaign...

{sobbing} {falling to crumpled heap} {wailing, "NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!}

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Finding the Balance Between Time, Space, and Working Hard

Allison Winn Scotch (who, by the way, writes a truly noteworthy blog that you need to follow if you don't already) wrote a post this week about the challenges of writing a book a year. She made many great points (hop over and read it--but come right back!), but one that really jumped out at me was the need for time and space between books...her desire to "observe life," and how those observations fuel and inspire her future writing.

I could not agree more. I have always believed that creativity is a spark that needs to be conscientiously tended. If you don't nourish and replenish the spark, I think (and also fear) that the spark will die out.

I believe that creativity is really a form of energy and no energy supply is endless. So as an aspiring writer I think it's incredibly important that you take time and allow yourself space. As Allison says, to allow yourself to "breathe...and grow wiser."  

At the same time, there is a difference between taking time and space and just plain old finding excuses not to work on your manuscript. We all know the stats that less than 1% of people who set out to write a book will actually finish their book. Nobody wants to be in that bottom 99%. But at the same time, you don't want to burn out.

So it comes down--once again--to a matter of balance. How do you find that balance? Tips? Tricks? Do tell!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Alluring Scent of Wet Dog

When I got my sweet little mutt Pelu in February, it immediately became clear that we were destined for each other through a series of remarkable commonalities. I love Twizzlers...she loves Twizzlers. I love chips (the salt, the crunch, what's not to love?)...Pelu loves chips. I love gummy bears...and, why, what do you know? She loves gummy bears too!

Pelu has a remarkably diverse palate. Have you ever seen a dog who loves fruit? Vegetables? Well, sweet little Pelu does! Just like me.

Our commonalities continued...Pelu made it clear that she detested being out in the rain and would employ any means possible to avoid getting her feet wet. When I tried to take her out on rainy days (overcoming my own loathing of being out in the rain and getting my feet wet), she would lock out her joints and I would have to drag a sitting dog down the street as she squirmed frantically to get away from me and back home. Ah, sigh, a girl after my heart.

That, however, was back in the days of her earlier youth. Now, at nearly a year old, she has apparently overcome her fear/dread/loathing of rainy days and getting her tiny feet wet. I greeted this revelation with a very certain response: DARN IT!!!

Pelu's new non-minding of rain became depressingly clear when I took her out on this cold, dreary, rainy morning and she pranced happily along, looking for squirrels. Whaaaat??? Where were the locked out joints? The squirming as though she was being tortured? The darting back toward the house, pulling with more might than you might think a furry 11-pounder could pull with?

Apparently, 30 rain-soaked minutes later, soaked through to my socks and my layers of sweatshirts a  regretable soggy weight, I realized my little nugget has overcome her rain-issues.

This doggy mama, however, has not.

Now to enjoy a day full of eau de wet dog. [sigh] [sigh] [sigh]

Friday, October 7, 2011

Another Brush with Crazy at the Door

IF I was worried that I could only have brushes with crazy when I'm out and about...say, at the dog park or coffee shop...well then, that fear was allayed tonight.
Doorbell rings.
Me: Hello?
Random Guy: Is Bill there?
Me: No. There's no Bill here.

andom Guy: Bill??!! Is that you??
Me: No. There is no Bill here. There's a Bill next door though. Black door on the left.
Random Guy: Where?
Me: NEXT DOOR! The black door to the left.
Guy: The black door to the left?? Where would I find that?
Me: [silence] [pounds head on wall] [why me?]

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lessons from a Dog #2: Time is Relative

You know that whole thing about one year of a dog's life being equivalent to seven human years?

Yeah, so recently, I left Pelu in her crate for five hours (we're still housetraining phase and she's too young to be trusted outside her "den.") Five whole hours. I felt terrible and and guilty and worried. Then, in a sharp spiral down into anxiety, I thought of the 1:7 human:dog ratio. Which then made me wonder, "Five times seven is...what...35? OMG. Was my five-hour absence actually 35 hours to Pelu?"

Could it be true that a five-hour editing session with my critique partner was a day and a half to my sweet little puppy?

I guess we'll never know for sure. But it sure does help explain why she's so incredibly happy to see me when I get home after what I perceive to be a relatively short time :)

Pelu mid-yawn. She's had a tough day of playing at the park, eating, and taking an earlier nap.
If I was going to get all philosophical about this, I'd wonder, what can we do about our perception of time? Why does editing seem endless but popcorn and a movie fleeting?

What about you? What drags? What flies? What do you do about it?