Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thanks, Chuck or HOW I LEARNED TO STOP TALKING and LOVE THE REWRITE

I'm exhausted.

Like brain fried, body overheated, friggin' exhausted. I work in a school, and if you remember your days of going to school, you'll know that in the early summer most buildings are like brick ovens. And it was 97 degrees outside today. Imagine what it was inside.

So, when I got home, the last thing I wanted to do was write. I wanted to sit down, drink some water, surf the internet, and then the fall asleep.

Then I read this wonderful post by Chuck Wendig and felt like complete crap.

Writing is important to me. I love to do it. Love the entire process, even when it's frustrating. And after I read Wendig's post, I realized how long it'd been since I'd done it.

Okay, not exactly true. I've been writing. Just finished a short story that you'll read soon.

Buuuuttttt, there's something I've been putting off since Witness to Death came out: I have to do a big, nasty, book changing rewrite of the novel I'm working on.

I'm not talking minimal edits like making sure Jim's eyes are the same color in chapter 1 as they were in chapter 18. No, I'm talking combining two minor characters into one major one. Changing events. Making the book work.

And see that's a part of writing. A big part.

It's what the people who aren't really cut out to be writers don't know and what Chuck points out so well. That you have to keep working on it and keep working and keep working to the point where in the course of writing a 75,000 word novel, you've actually written 200,000 words and cut most of them out.

The novels I've written... most of them are nearly unrecognizable from their first drafts. The plot, the characters, they have the same names, but they do different things.

I've never given up on a novel.

I'm not about to start now.

The rest of you can go out and talk about writing your book. You can talk about your concerns, your plans, your promotional ideas. That's all well and good.

But it doesn't mean squat if you haven't put in the work.

Gloria Steinem said, "I do not like to write--I like to have written."

There are a lot of people on the internet who would be better served if that quote read "I do not like to write--I like to talk about writing."

I will not be one of those people.

Writing isn't drafting and proofreading.

Writing is drafting, tearing the whole thing up, putting it back together, tearing it up again, and then proofreading.

And it's work, whether you're tired or not.

So tonight, before I wrote this post, I re-wrote the hell out of the first scene of this book. And it's going to make everything else harder down the line.

But the book will be better because of it.

Thanks for the reminder, Chuck.

4 comments:

Chuck said...

Dave:

That's awesome, man. Here I am squawking into the void and had no idea I'd actually make a dent. Especially great knowing that it made a dent in a writer who I want to keep writing instead.

Cool. Thanks for the shout-out, and BTFO, dude.

-- c.

Scott Parker said...

Dave - I, too, read Chuck's comments yesterday, and now yours. I made a writing decision this week, and, so far, I'm four for four. I kinda knew I was trending towards the type of writer Chuck described, and remembered what it was like actually to have completed something. I remembered the joy, and I wanted it back. The only remedy: more (cowbell) writing. Then, and only then, do I feel confident about calling myself a fiction writer (I'm already a tech writer by day). Glad I'm not the only one.

nelizadrew said...

I had already kicked myself in the ass about a similar edit, but then school stuff happened and I put it off "until..." Last week, I decided "screw until" but Chuck's post was still a good reminder because finishing things is sort of my Kryptonite (and not just with writing). Now, he just needs one about how "good" and "perfect" are different and how at some point I should stop rewriting and editing and gutting already.

Angie said...

Dave, This is a great post. After discovering Chuck Wendig, I finally came out of the closet - as a writer. I trashed the beginning - 50K words- of the first draft of my memoirs and am rewriting it completely, turned it in to fiction and feel totally liberated.