How Many Revisions Fooled Me

Just when I thought my 5th draft revision was more-or-less complete, I realized it was not. For one thing, I’d somehow bypassed one entire chapter from my countdown by leaving it in the fourth draft folder. I’d been moving 4th drafts into the 5th draft folder one chapter at a time. Then I moved skipped a chapter on purpose to evaluate something in the following chapter. After the evaluation, rather than moving that chapter back into the 4th draft folder where it should have stayed until I was ready to work on it, I left it in the 5th draft folder. When I counted how many chapters I had left, I didn’t count the chapter still in the 4th draft folder because I did not remember skipping it. I didn’t realize it was missing from the 5th draft folder until I was editing my chapter outlines, which of course, included all the chapters. It wasn’t until I searched all my 5th draft folders to find “A Place Called Grace,” without success that I realized it had been left behind in the 4th draft folder.
Now I can proceed.

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Writer’s Block, the Attack

 With my largest Starbucks mug filled to the brim with strong, steaming coffee, and my laptop ready for me to pound out my final few fifth-draft chapter edits, I find myself in a slump. The continuous flat bark, bark, bark of a neighbor’s bored canine, interrupts my thoughts. Trying to ignore the dog, I work on updating my various versions. When I am done with that tedious chore and ready to work on my manuscript, another neighbor starts her lawnmower.

By the time the yard is quiet, except for the usual summer sounds of tweeting birds, I am ready to write.  But my mind does not translate the words on the page. I cannot tell which scene belongs with which chapter.  I have too much random info and I don’t know where it goes or if I should use it at all.   

 I cannot forget the last agent’s’ comments:

“In places your story felt more like a reflection on the past, more ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing,’ and I lost the story arc.” 

 I understand the general gist of what she is saying, but I do not know how to apply her observations. If she were commenting on the chapters I’m working on now, I would get it.  I’ve already determined that I do too much “telling” in these unpolished chapters.  But the chapters I sent her are some of my best. 

Kim Barnes, one of my favorite writers, says “Balancing reflection with action in a memoir is always the trick, and every memoir does it differently.”

Still, my creative juices are plugged up; I’m feeling uncomfortably inadequate.

 I wish I could pay a book editor to fix it for me, but this expense is out of the question as I am currently unemployed. 

 Maybe someone out there with the skills to recognize the above-mentioned “telling” parts will come to my rescue by volunteering to read those chapters and graciously inform me without charge

Quail skittering beneath the red rose bush in my backyard.

where I “reflect on the past.” You’d think I could do it myself, but as of this moment, I am too creatively obstructed up to continue without some help.

 Please help me unlock this intensely discouraging Writer’s Block!

One Power-Packed Healthy Breakfast

This morning I begin my day with a bowl of lumpy, old fashioned oatmeal smothered with fresh blueberries, raspberries from our yard, deluxe raisin mix, and toasted almonds. Yum.  Hope this breakfast lifts me from my sleepy brain, ‘cause I’ve got some major thinking to do this morning. 

After I found “A Place Called Grace” in my 4th draft folder and read it, I realized I had far too much info stuffed into one chapter.  It wasn’t the length as much as the content that overloaded my story.  I had strayed from the major point of the chapter and stuffed ingredients that belonged either in their own chapter or in another chapter with similar content. 

The next chapter presented a similar problem: unrelated-to-the-chapter-theme.

My dilemma thickened when I realized that the unrelated material, though strongly in sync with the book theme, was poorly written, a huge “tell” rather than an engaging “show.”

After sleeping on the dilemma, I have concluded the following:

  1. I must distinguish between material that will enhance my story and rant material.
  2. I must decide where to put what remains.
  3. I must rewrite the material to fit the style and quality of the rest of the story.

And so, now you know why my oatmeal is loaded and, I forgot to mention, my coffee is strong.