WARNING: this is a no-edit zone…
First and foremost, a very big thank you to Kass (Kassandra Bakke at Consulting Services, Inc.) for working her computer magic and getting my iMac in order. I organize creatively, and as a present to my iMac, Kass organized it logically. THANKS, Kass, from me and from my Mac. 🙂
Being off-line for a few days gave me tons of time to spend with the grans, which is my most favorite thing in the world to do. In the breaks, I spent a lot of time thinking, and one of the things I thought about was fresh starts. As in I wanted to make one on a series I’m writing. And so fresh starts is what’s on my mind this morning…
Most writers are happiest when they’re in create-mode. By that, I mean, working with a new idea or concept and developing it–making all those decisions on point of view, main and secondary characters, setting and tone–using the tools writers use to take a flicker or glimmer of an idea and mold and shape it into a story.
We typically love that part. And as we build and mold and shape our enthusiasm grows and grows until we just can’t stand to wait another second–we’ve got to write. And so we do. And we love what we write. It is the manifestation of our ideas and thoughts–our creation.
So on we go, writing and writing. And then we reach a point where we cross the proverbial line in the sand and the enthusiasm is invaded by our internal editor. So we read what we’ve written. And we realize that the images in our heads when we were writing are ill-reflected on the page. And so we rewrite.
Oh, we think. If I’d opened this story there rather than here, it would be so much better. Oh, if she had a history of this instead of that, she’d have so much more at risk. Oh….
And so we smile or grimace, depending on our attitude, and then we make a choice. We elect to start over and rewrite from the stronger perspective (which in truth might or might not be stronger) or we elect to keep going, see what happens and then make our adjustments.
I’m often asked which I do. I can honestly answer either or both. It pays (for scheduling purposes) as well as other reasons for a writer to understand his or her process. To notice patterns in the way s/he writes. My pattern is to blaze through a first draft, knowing the writing is raw and needs tons of polish. I’ve written other ways, but this is the most natural to me. And then after I blaze through that first draft, I start polishing.
Which means, it’s only after the entire first draft is written that I rewrite the first three chapters. The bones are there, but they need nourishment to be strong and healthy. They need enhancing with details I didn’t know then that were revealed in the actual writing.
This makes it challenging to sell on proposal to an editor who does not see or share your vision. One who hasn’t worked with you won’t know that about the way you work and that can give him or her a false impression of your finished product. The only way around this, in that case, is to write the entire first draft and then rewrite your first three chapters for submission.
That’s not typically something multi-published authors do. They explain their process and take their chances. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn’t. The perk is that when it does, the author knows s/he has hooked up with an editor who can see his/her vision. That’s priceless.
But this is about fresh starts. It’s about the author remembering that the goal is to create the best book possible, and that means starting over because it’s best for the book. No grumbling or groaning or whining. Just doing it because in the end the work is the one thing the author can control.
Fresh starts like fresh perspectives, give us an opportunity to build on something that exists. Something we created from nothing.
That’s a perk we don’t have when we first begin writing. We’re blazing a new trail, creating something from nothing. How many trials, do you think, Ben Franklin needed to get spectacles right? Or any other inventor? Do you think any one went from zero to finale in one shot?
Fresh starts are opportunities. Embrace them–and you’ll see far more of the vision in your mind appear on your pages.
©2008, Vicki Hinze