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Nose to the Grindstone: More Revisions [Sep. 5th, 2009|10:12 pm]

I got back to work on the book this afternoon and evening, and re-discovered what a lousy writer I am in first draft.  Of course, my standards are fairly high, but you'd think I'd notice when a sentence started acting like a kitten tangled in a ball of yarn.  On and on with increasing separation between subject and verb and many intervening clauses, phrases, parenthetical bits, etc.  (The solution's easy at least.  Stab one of those commas with a fork and turn it into a period.  Do it again--and again--until there's a nice, readable, flowing paragraph...)    Then there's the half-page of stuff that was (on third thought) basically my hind-brain telling my forebrain what it needed to know, some stuff that is not necessary for readers (and certainly not then.)

And the fossils--the leftover things from an early draft that I never really looked at again.    It's true that in the original draft of this particular chapter,  it was winter.  But it wasn't winter two drafts later, and hasn't been winter since...and yet, amid clear indications that it's not winter (leaves still on the trees)  suddenly there's a description ot a garden in winter.   But...it's not cold.   It's early autumn.   So I  rewrote the garden scene (no leafless vines--which actually worked better as it was important not to see all the details of the wall.  Yet)  while shaking my head at having revised other parts of that section but failed to notice the seasonal disconnect.

Even more critical, for me, is understanding the deep logic of some things that happen in this book...I'm far enough into the whole story arc that I need to know why and how of things that happened (in book time) a thousand years ago.  Because we're running into consequences.

Peeking ahead at the deadlines and knowing I missed a week of work with the Google Book Settlement thing,  I am spending this holiday weekend (except for singing two services on Sunday) with a very fat print-out and an even fatter main file (since the print-out only goes to 615 pages, and the file goes a long way past that.)   Next week, I'll try returning to first-drafting on the third book in the morning, while doing revisions on the second book in the afternoon...though at some point the page proofs of the first book will come roaring in.   I want to get book two ready to hand  my editor by mid-October, and then make a running leap into book three before she can give me her revisions.   So it's time to crank up the old grindstone and apply the nose to it with some firmness.

But for now...off to the sack, as 6 am comes early.


[User Picture]From: ajl_r
2009-09-06 11:33 am (UTC)
That sounds horrendously demanding! Good luck with it all, am looking forward to the published copies. :)
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-09-06 11:40 am (UTC)
The focus part is hard--writing first-draft is easier because I'm always moving forward. Revision means mental focus that can _shift_. And as it shifts, it can vanish away into the clouds and not come back for hours if I'm not careful.
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[User Picture]From: amm_me
2009-09-07 02:43 am (UTC)

nose to grindstone

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-09-07 07:17 pm (UTC)

Re: nose to grindstone

It's possible...though I thought it had to do with applying the grindstone to the "nose" of a tool being ground to a point or edge.

That looks like a totally miserable way to work, BTW.
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[User Picture]From: bunny_m
2009-09-07 11:57 am (UTC)
Even more critical, for me, is understanding the deep logic of some things that happen in this book...I'm far enough into the whole story arc that I need to know why and how of things that happened (in book time) a thousand years ago. Because we're running into consequences.

You horrible, horrible personauthor, teasing us like that!

As if I wasn't already firmly sitting on my excitement for these books. ;)
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-09-07 07:30 pm (UTC)
I've already admitted my horrible-ness with regard to taunting...

And just to be meaner, I'm going to discuss the kind of problem that bothers me. In these books, someone of previously good character steals an object of great value. Why? Someone like that would not, on seeing such an object, go "Oooh...I could be rich...must steal..." There must be a reason other than, "It needs stealing for plot purposes." (And it doesn't--there are other ways to get the object where it needs to be for plot purposes without stealing it.) And yet it was stolen. Why? What motivates someone who's not a thief--a sober, adult person, not a thrill-seeking kid--to steal an object of value, frame someone else for the theft, and injure a couple of bystanders into the bargain?

If this were a modern detective story, we might think of a) a sudden need for a lot of money, b) a credible threat ("steal that or we break your wife's legs"), c) the need to cover up some other unsavory something (person's about to be exposed as something awful and needs the money to run away with), d) psychotic break. But it's not a modern detective story. People also do uncharacteristic things when they feel they've been betrayed or treated unfairly by someone/some organization...but that's this culture and not true of all. Is that this person's motivation? Or something I haven't thought of yet?

I don't yet know why this person stole the object. And not knowing why, I don't know where the person went with the object or what the person will do next. (I do know where the object will end up in the future, but not how it got there.)

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[User Picture]From: serenadefarm_05
2009-09-09 05:59 pm (UTC)
Maybe this person didn't understand it as stealing...as in conflicting ethical systems regarding "ownership"? Maybe in the alternative ethical world-view it was a good thing to do, or at least a morally neutral thing to do?
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-09-10 05:01 pm (UTC)
Oh, this person knows...this person even feels guilty...but also feels compelled.

I dunno. Still thinking about it.
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[User Picture]From: eir_de_scania
2009-09-07 07:42 pm (UTC)
Yes, and we only get the first one next year. We have to wait even longer for the other two...

Elizabeth, I can hear your evil cackle from here!
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-09-07 07:56 pm (UTC)
I swear to you that if you were listening to me right now, what you'd hear is groans, my head smacking the desk, whimpers, and other sounds of authorial misery and shame. With occasional mutters of "THAT was dumb" and "How could I be so STUPID!??"

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