Friday Fare, Internet Articles, Random, Uncategorized

Friday Fare: 9/30/16

Friday Fare is where I post links to the random articles that have resonated with me during the week. Sometimes they make me smarter, sometimes they make me hungry … sometimes they have to do with writing and sometimes they are just plain random.

Michael Chabon wrote a beautiful piece on his son, “the prince of fashion,” for GQ.  As the mama of boys and an unabashed Chabon fan, I read this with great interest.  It was an article that was beautifully eloquent.

Shirley Jackson has been getting some press lately partially due to the recent release of Ruth Franklin’s book “Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life.”  This piece was adapted from Franklin’s book for New York Magazine.  In a world where the discussion of mothers “having it all” seems to be as divisive as the political world we currently live in, I appreciated reading an article that asserted that motherhood helped Jackson’s writing career blossom.  I’ve been a writer for much of my life, but my fiction writing edged its way as a priority after my eldest was born.

This article about the “alchemy” of the Filet-O-Fish sandwich from McDonalds stirred a couple feelings in me:  1) Recognition, because – man … I have an unhealthy love for FOF sandwiches (that I only indulge in during Lent, right around when Shamrock Shakes are on the menu.). 2) Absolute hilarity:

“The bun’s plain. The cheese sucks. The fish tastes like nothing. But in concert, McDonald’s fish sandwich is alchemy.”

^Truer words, never spoken …

***

Listening to: I’ve made no secret of my love for Gordon Lightfoot.  It’s thrilling to see that Vanity Fair wrote a piece on him.

Reading:  Reading has been taking a backseat lately to work and trying to get words down on paper for Dragonfly.  However, the latest Pendergast novel will be hitting my Kindle soon, I think this will be a well deserved reward for what I accomplished this month on Dragonfly.

Fiction Update: I was able to get ~6,000 words out over the past weekend when I was away in Wisconsin.  While I’m nowhere near my goal of 3,000 a day, I’ve realized that 1,500 is doable for me.  A good lesson learned.  I’m hoping to be around 70-75,000 words by the end of this week and in possession of a sh*tty first draft.

Enjoy the weekend!

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Editing, Fiction, Process

Adventures in Editing: Clunk.

_AdventuresinEditingAfter several years of toiling, I finished a SFD draft of After Life (AL) in July 2015.  I let it set on the back burner until March 2016 and am editing in earnest.  Adventures in Editing is an occasional feature that chronicles the travails of trying to bring a bunch of muddle into a more cohesive draft.  Thanks for reading!

I think the following picture tells a pretty decent story:

clunkAs my mentor mentioned in my earlier “Adventures” post, reading your draft out loud is an effective way to catch any parts of your story that are … well, clunky.  As I read through my draft of AL to see how the story flowed together, I marked the sentences / sections that were clunky upon reading them out loud.

Still don’t believe me?  Check out what the experts say in the hyperlinks.

Editing, Fiction, Process

Adventures in Editing: In One Sitting

_AdventuresinEditingA little back story, after several years of toiling, I finished a SFD draft of After Life (AL) in July 2015.  I let it set on the back burner until March 2016 and have started the process of editing in earnest.  Adventures in Editing is an occasional feature that chronicles the travails of trying to bring a bunch of muddle into a more cohesive draft.  Thanks for reading!

I do believe in the adage that to write is to be a constant student of the craft.  I see this as I discover new writers or glean some nugget of information in the writing blogs that I peruse.  However, while all things can be good in moderation, I have found that too much information causes creative paralysis.  I rediscovered this as I started thinking about how I was going to approach the editing process on AL.  My current draft is hovering around a chunky 113k mark.  I feel OK about the beginning, I’m a little meh about the ending – it’s there, but it needs some loving, and the middle?  Uff da – don’t get me started on the middle.  There’s good stuff there, but there’s flab.  Oh sweet Lord, there’s flab.

But as I’ve purchased my red pens and have mentally been gearing up for the editing process, I found myself paralyzed.  First and foremost – do I have the tools to accomplish my goal?  This goes beyond red pens and Post-It notes.  Do I have the knowledge to bring draft one to a better second draft?  That question tends to paralyze me.  It’s not only do I have the knowledge, it’s also a question of efficiency.  Gestating a book and getting it ready to send it off into the world takes time, but do I approach the editing process correctly?  Are there things that I should be considering as I read my draft that I don’t know about?  Should I take a(nother) class where I learn more about the editing process?

There was one concept in particular that kept me procrastinating on the start of my current round of edits.  Somewhere along my journey, I read you should read your draft from stem to stern in one sitting at the beginning of the editing process.

I don’t disagree with this concept and I think that the intent behind this is so that thoughts and perceptions remain fresh in the author’s mind and that any mental progress isn’t interrupted by having to read your draft in several different sittings.

And I really, really tried to do this with my latest draft of AL.  I did.  So how long did it take me?  Four days.  So do I think that my novel is now doomed because I wasn’t able to follow the advice of the experts?  Nah.  I think in my dream world, I’d have endless amounts of time to chase my dreams of fiction and publication.  But in my real world, the world that fills me with ideas and introduces me to potential characters and … well, pays the bills … it took me four days to read my draft and rediscover my old friend Kate and her father Simon.  I realized that there were a couple extraneous characters that could be jettisoned.  I saw plot threads that were started and then fizzled out.  I got what I needed.  And now I’m crafting my action plan to go forward.

So the moral of the story?  I’m learning to cut through the noise and I’m finding what works for me on this creative journey.

I’ll leave you with the following thought. I came across this status update in November on Facebook from Louise Penny.  I liked this … this encapsulates my hopes as I hop from a shitty first draft to my second draft and beyond: “Started the second draft of the next book yesterday. The first few chapters are, of course, the ones that need the most editing. When I started this book, I knew the outline of the plot, and some of the themes, but as the book went on things evolved. These first chapters drag their knuckles on the ground. Need to have them stand upright. And in the next draft will make them lean and strong and swift. And, if I do a fourth draft, will see if I can teach it to make cappuccino.”

Uncategorized

The wooshing sounds of deadlines …

I had set an internal deadline of finishing edits on my Shitty First Draft (SFD) by July 1.  It is July 1.  And I’m about four chapters, give or take, behind.  However – I am not bummed by missing this deadline.  I have two children under the age of two that are running afoot, I work full time, and I really like spending time with my husband and other family members; I’m cutting myself a little bit of slack.  And that’s partially because I’m confident that I’m not far away from finishing my edits.

What’s next?  I’m wavering between giving my story some time to rest and marinate (what does that even MEAN?) or going right back into more edits.  I think I’m going to give it a little rest, partially to give myself some objective distance, but mostly because there’s another project that’s been niggling at my gray matter and I want to do some outlining on that before I return to my edits.  I worry about losing my momentum, but my instinct is telling me that I’m going to be OK as long as I return to AL before August 15th. 

In other news – I’m reading again.  When I’m writing, my reading habit becomes feast or famine.  And if I do read, I want to read something that I’ve read before (It’s my brain’s version of comfort food?  I’m really strange?  All of the above?),  I’m out of my famine mode and back into feasting on books.  I’m back to reading Patricia Briggs’ “Mercy Thompson” series and restarted the “Alpha and Omega” series.  I love the world that Briggs created with these characters – again, mental comfort food.  I’m also reading books on the Russian empire – Robert K. Massie’s “Catherine the Great” and Edvard Radzinsky’s “The Last Tsar.”  I’ve been minorly obsessed with the Romanovs since high school.  And like my penchant for mental comfort food, I cannot explain why I am drawn to those eras in history and that country. 

Happy July, friends!