Wednesday, February 15, 2012

10 years after

I like to play this little game in my mind. I think about something that happened, I don’t know, ten years ago. Something real. Vivid. I shut my eyes and there it is, there I am. Everything’s the same but different. It doesn’t have to be anything special. Maybe lying in a bed, looking at the paint on a window and thinking, realizing at that moment that time is just a weird bitch of a thing. You hold a worn black and white photo, turn it over and see a faded stamped date and it seems impossibly distant, unreal. A prop to support present reality but not something that actually happened, not people who actually lived and breathed and had twenty four hours in every day and considered their world, their reality to be an actual present. Merely a prelude to a future present that is all about the now.

Some say the world couldn’t possibly have been the same back then. Something’s been lost. I say the world couldn’t really have even existed, right? I mean, where was I?

But right then, right there, in my decade long memory I remember, I mean I was there and I remember everything was the same. The cool feel of the air on my skin, the softness of the flannel sheets against my back, my eyes resting on brush marks of paint on the window sill it was all the same and I knew in the future I question the reality so I stared, ten years ago, to indelibly imprint everything and it worked.

So ten years have gone by but I can connect the dots seamlessly from one present to another.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Writing Tips: First Draft

My initial draft took 3 months to write. Then finishing the novel took another 3 years.

Oh – and don’t let ANYBODY read that initial draft. It will suck, indeed.

I finished the first draft and put it down and thought – hey, this has got to be one of the best books EVER. The agents will be beating down my door when they get so much as a whiff of this manuscript! So I set it aside and took a little break. Felt like I was on top of the world.

A month later I opened the manuscript and started printing and reading (you must print and read to get the full effect. Not good enough to read a word doc directly from the computer. Better yet, print and read out loud to understand how the dialogue really sounds – helps avoid unrealistic speech. Example: “What is up with that” quickly becomes “What’s up with that” when you’re reading aloud).

Anyway, I started reading and was horrified at how bad it was. Thus started the 3 year polishing cycle.

Creating the initial draft is the hardest. The initial overall idea of what your book is going to be about. Who are the characters, what’s the high concept, where will the conflict come from.

Once you get past that and start writing, it gets easier.

And once you get that initial draft completed – then it’s fun. Truly. From that point forward, you only need to polish. Just pick you’re your gem every few days and polish for a few minutes. Hear someone say something funny at the mall, consider a tree limb in a park and how you might describe it, smell a familiar smell and let your mind run – all of these ‘experiences’ … feel them and bring them back into your novel as you polish and make it shine and breathe life into it. That’s the best part. Oh, it’s so hard to get that gem established at first. But once you do, it’s your gem. And it may never sell, it may never make millions of dollars – but it’s your gem and you can publish it and you can get it in print and you can show your friends and one day your children and one day, many years from now, you’ll read that work as a different person, as an older person. You’ll wonder who wrote that? You’ll be amazed all over again.