My March Madness

Remember NaNoWriMo — that month-long obsession with writing throughout November? Guess what? Denise Jaden has invited writers to join her for a similar project, March Madnessand I succumbed. Yikes!!

Despite all my revision attempts this past year I haven’t been happy with one of my older manuscripts. March Madness will provide the opportunity for one last (I really want it to be the last) concentrated effort aimed at readying it for submission. I committed to the goal of revising a minimum of one chapter a day, five days a week during March.

There’s motivation and accountability in joining a group endeavour so if you need a little of that to prod you toward some personalized writing goals, mosey on over to Denise’s blog and see what she’s offering.

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Any unattained goals or roadblocks you’d like to admit to while you’re here? Owning up is the first step toward overcoming, so come on, let’s hear it.

Getting the Gears in Motion

Everyone but me seems to be packing away Christmas decorations, evaluating the past year and making resolutions for the new one. Everyone but me. Other people are clearing away their mental and physical clutter, ready to dive with fresh determination into 2010’s challenges. Me? I’m less than enthusiastic.

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Part of me is ready to move out of holiday mode and return to routine while another part is procrastinating because I’m not quite ready to tackle what’s waiting for me.

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You see, I have two works in progress, both novels, one of which has been haunting me for months. I put it aside last fall in favour of making a start on something new during NaNoWriMo. Why I put it aside is perfectly explained in a post by Katie Ganshart. I swear she was reading my journal when she composed it!

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She starts out saying, “I’m reading through my rough draft of Wishing on Willows. Makes my stomach knot up like a tangled string of Christmas lights. I keep forcing myself to take deep, calming breaths. I keep reminding myself that this is how I always feel when I read through a first draft. My reminders do very little. Panic has its way. It perches inside my chest and heaves like a raving lunatic. Can you really fix this? Is this story even redeemable?”

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Oh, how I know that feeling! I’ve revised, reorganized, reworked, revamped, attempted to revitalize. I’ve done it all and still it reads like the pages of yesterday’s newspaper. Or the telephone book. Or an outdated shopping list. You get the idea. So I took a break from it. Now that it’s time to get back to work I would be happier returning to my newer novel but that know-it-all part of my conscience says I need to finish the other first.

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Katie’s probably right. She says, “The only remedy? Roll up my sleeves and get to work.” I guess it’s time to get the gears in motion.

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Now that the holidays are over what project is beckoning for your attention?

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New Beginnings… Again!

Would you believe I’m starting my “finished” manuscript over again? You’d think I’d remember how much time and work the current version has taken and would be happy to finally turn my back on it in favour of moving ahead with something new. But no, I’m revisiting it, captivated by the idea that using a first person approach could make it better.

 

I want my writing to be the best I am capable of producing but how long do I keep tweaking and trying? There are warnings about overworking a piece.  Artists know the problem, fussing with an oil painting until suddenly the colours become “muddy” and the canvas must be scraped clean for a fresh start. So when do you stop? The best advice I’ve heard is, “When you’re done.” That may sound trite, but I really do believe a good author — like a good artist — has a sense of what is working and what isn’t. When changes become inconsequential and no longer improve the magic that has been developing, it’s time to back off.

 

The guidance of a knowledgeable agent or editor is invaluable, but not all of us have that available. Ultimately we have to trust the same instinct that brought forth the original dream.

 

That instinct is telling me to begin again, to give this new approach a try and see how it feels. I’ll let you know if I feel the magic.