Wednesday, September 03, 2014

In process -- August 2014

First Draft

Limering”. Around 81,000 words. I am ready for this to be done.


The first day of “Editing Something Else Month” went to hell when I spent an hour looking for the printout of the story I wanted to read.

“As light as a bird”. (short story) What I had wasn’t really a draft as much as a pile of notes typed up in chronological order. I knew this before I started to read it. But I didn’t realize that the last three pages were missing about five scenes. On the second day of working on this story, I added almost 5 pages of content, and that wasn’t even at the end. I’d started with just shy of 4300 words, and the second draft ballooned up to 7181 (jesus! I went back to check for writing this, and I didn’t realize it had swelled so much. I thought like 6200 or something). That was the plot revision draft. Then I started doing the scenes draft.

So, back in 2010 or thereabouts Karl Schroeder was the Writer-in-residence at the Merrill Collection of Toronto Public Library. He read one of my stories and drew me a revision cycle chart that I still have that goes something like “Plot – Scenes – Character/Setting – Copy edit” and I noted myself not to do this more than twice. I guess the implication was I might be pecking my stories to death with endless unfocused revisions. Since then I have *meant* to do this but perhaps not been as fastidious in the actuality as I thought.

Having just finished the “plot fixing” draft of WWS, I thought I would do a “scene fixing” draft of this, but I didn’t really have a clue where to start. Last September or October I bought a book about scenes (also, Nancy Kress said in Locus that the point where her writing really started to take off was when she got a handle on writing in scenes) and I decided to read that book (finally) and put its concepts into practice with this short story, as a warm-up before tackling the novel.

I read about four chapters and opened a printout of my story, and tried to mark where my scenes started and ended, and the problem became apparent at once.

Here’s what might be a personal failing of mine: whenever I read a book or a blog post or whatever about improving my writing, I always think to myself, “sure, I could do that but it would stifle my creativity” and so I ignore it and don’t improve. And that’s stupid. I have mocked this thought process in others, who think perhaps that behaving like an adult and paying bills and suchlike would somehow ruin their genius, and so they continue to, you know, fuck up their lives endlessly even though they’re like 45 and should stop living like that. And yet, here I was saying it myself.

And then I decided, none of those rules apply to first drafts.

Not that it would be bad if my first drafts weren’t better. But that’s not the way I roll, man.

And if somehow learning to craft scenes with starts and ends rather than 7100 words of stream-of-consciousness rambling that sort of gets to an end makes my first drafts better, I suppose it’s not a bad thing. I did a third draft and started a fourth. I need a better title.

“Selkie Girls are Easy”. I carried this one around but didn’t really do anything except think. 

"Lucky Kate". After reading Make a Scene, I realized what was wrong with the middle of this story and wrote some notes.  Maybe when Limering is done I will give a week of "new words" time to fixing it.






“Ceremonial Armour” (Kaffe Fassett, knit from a photo). Half done the first sleeve, and I’m liking the colors again. 
“St. Anthony’s Ribbon” (self-designed). Seven inches of body. This is a good travelling project.
Octopodes socks from Knitty Spring 2014. Finished.
Rick socks from Sock Innovation. First started.

I also finished sewing the skirt I started last month. It goes with Kaffeklatsch, but it’s too warm to wear that yet. Fortunately, I have some brown tank tops. In all, I have about eight tops that this goes with, so win!

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