Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Comfort Blankets

Having declared not so long ago that I had abandoned N1 for N3, I made the mistake of using one of my protagonists from N1 for Sally Q's Character Workshop earlier this year. I stupidly went and fell in love with him, and the bloody book, all over again. The trouble is (excuse coming up here...) we've been together a lot of years now, this book and I, and it's like a mad bad old friend without whom I can't quite bear to live, despite its appalling treatment of me (or should that be the other way around?).

Okay, I admit it, N1 is my comfort blanket. I feel particularly safe fiddling with chapter fourteen; I like that bit best.

Oh, Leigh! I hear you cry in exasperation. You'll never get a damn thing done like this.

I know. I know.

Sooo, I have to tell you that, having been re-inspired by many happenings this year, I am killing all my darlings (including a few characters), cutting out a terrifying amount of crap, and oh-so improving the rest. Such fun!

When you edit, do you, like me, find yourself going back over the same favourite bits over and over, or are you ruthless and determined and plough on through? (Or do you, even more like me, sit and procrastinate on Blogger/YouTube/Facebook/Twitter/iTunes, etc.?)

16 comments:

Helen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Queenie said...

Ruthless and determined. And I don't generally procrastinate much (blogging doesn't count because it involves a lot of writing!!).

ps: sorry that was me above but I got it all wrong so had to start again. I evidently need more writing practice - how's that for a good excuse? ;-)

claire p said...

I do like a good faff it has to be said. I try not to fiddle too much for too long, but usually do. I think I've just finished the edit on number 2. I try to be ruthless (ish) :)

HelenMHunt said...

Ooh, a character bloodbath! I like the sound of that!

Debs said...

I tend to faff about a bit, then press on. I deleted 45,000 words once, as the beginning of the book was so damn dull. Now, if I deleted the other 80k I would probably have something worth working on!

Kaye Manro said...

Oh I do delete a lot! I also layer in things that need to be there that I left out in the beginning drafts. Does it ever get to be perfect? I doubt it. I do have a comfort blanket novel too. Maybe someday I'll actually sub it somewhere!

Lane said...

Procrastinate on f/b? Never;-)

I'm not ruthless enough. Sloppy but not ruthless. I need a character bloodbath too! And a blankie:-)

Tam said...

Nope, I am resolute and determined and I know exactly what I'm doing at all times.
Honest...

Troy said...

Reading between the lines as to how much you've cut out it seems you could submit your novel as a Readers Digest short story.

However I'm relieved to actual understand your posting. At first I thought N1 and N3 referred to two of your children.

trousers said...

I can see parallels with musical ideas - things recorded which sound good and which I get precious about, but which are unresolved or unsatisfactory in some way or the other.

I may spend time tinkering/procrastinating.

I put it all to one side for a while.

I come back to it when the preciousness has gone (days, weeks, moths later - even years): I can slash into it all quite brutally, radically reworking elements and introducing new hitherto unknown ones, and making other adjustments here and there, perhaps throwing in a couple of wild cards as it were.

Finally when I listen back, as often as not it precisely resembles how I wanted it to sound in the first place.

JJ Beattie said...

Hmmm, I do have a definite tendency to keep looking at the bits I like, but eventually, I tend to realise that I've got to get on with the rest of the crap too.

Captain Black said...

I edit chapter by chapter and scene by scene. Each edit pass has a specific goal. For example, the first pass is to tighten the plot and kill the darlings. The second might be to chop out unnecessary adverbs and bring in more of the five senses. And so on.

I have to do it to this kind of recipe, otherwise I'd just faff about and get nowhere. I know this from experience!

Procrastination is a different matter all together. See you on faceache...

DJ Kirkby said...

Edit? That is a four letter word if I ever read one! xo

Jean said...

Procrastinate. Yeah, that's me. I indulge myself re-reading my favourite bits, break off to check my emails, indulge myself some more, break off again to see what interesting emails I've got, lurk about seeing what bloggers are getting up to, and then, eventually. I might actually get down to some proper editing.

Leigh said...

Queenie - I like that: 'blogging doesn't count'. You are soo my kinda girl!!

Claire - I think there has to be a certain amounbt of faffing, just to make it fun!

Helen - Not that you're ruthless, or anything...!

Debs - Oh, I sympathise. My 'cut-bits' chapter has just hit 50k...

Kaye - Hello! Mmm, I reckon it's the feeding stuff back in that takes all the time. I often wonder how JKR did it - she must be such a good planner!

Lane - Well obviously, I wasn't referring to you personally. Or even mentioning your score on Scramble, or anything like that.

Tam - Trouble is, I believe you do!! You're so much more together with all this than I am!

Troy - Oh, you're so funny!!! (Well, actually, I could.)

Trousers - That's probably just about exactly how I work. Playing about for a while, taking a break, and coming back to do the ruthless thing. I'd love to hear some of your music. May we have a link from your blog one day, please?

JJ - IT'S NOT CRAP!!!!

Captain - Ooh, you do put me to shame!

DJ - Ha ha ha!!!

Jean - Get down to some proper editing... if there's time, eh? ;-)

B said...

ha. i wish i'd had time to read this last week while doing my final assignment. i was giving someone in my tutor group feedback and told her that she was concentrating on the first bit because she'd already had feedback from our tutor on it and it was safe. known territory. i also confessed that i recognised this as i was doing exactly the same thing. it took me what felt like decades to move on from polishing the first three scenes to actually writing the rest. and that's why i finally got to sleep at 3am this morning.

i have discovered the add-on leechblock in firefox. you can ban yourself from eg facebook, the guardian, jezebel.com - all the timesuck websites you can lose hours on at preset times of the day. you can even set it up so you can't disable or change it at these times. GENIUS. helped keep me working.

you still coming to brum? looking forward to seeing you.