Monday, March 26, 2007

The Writing Life

This is one of our four new kitties. Already a week old, I can't believe how big they are! Mama Cat (Katie) is quite the mother and even when I moved the kitties for a few minutes to try and take their pics, she would have none of it and immediately started moving them back to their spot. I did manage to snap this pic of my daughter with one of them, though.

Saturday and Sunday, I edited. And edited. And edited some more. I almost felt like I was chained to the desk on Sunday afternoon. The weather was perfect. Slight breeze, gorgeous temperatures, and sun! It was hard for me to stay at my computer - especially since I couldn't use my laptop. But darn it, I was determined to get this done.

Unfortunately, this one chapter took me both days to do. It was a pivotal moment for my characters and thus, it had to be exactly perfect - or, as perfect as I can get it. I think I slaved over each and every word. I deleted a lot, then started again. I'm still not happy with how I ended the chapter and I think I'll work on that a bit more before declaring it a done deal.

It's funny how the writing process works. In writing the novel, we're supposed to ignore our inner editor, to not worry over whether or not what we write is crap - after all, we can fix crap, right?

Well, when it comes time to fixing that crap, it's hard. I told my husband today that the scene I was working on was extremely difficult. All the elements had to fall together in these few pages - emotions, characterization, pacing, etc. And if they didn't, the reader wouldn't be satisfied. But until I'm satisfied - i.e., I'm feeling what my character's feeling and holding my breath while I read it - it's not done.

But, even though it is hard when it comes to editing, I love it. This is the time when I can play, where I can tinker and make it exactly how I want it (but not tinker too long, or else I run the risk of over-editing!).

In fact, this whole writing process is hard. Very hard. If you want to get it right, you have to do your work, put in your time, study the craft, write, write, write, then write some more. It's not easy. It's nerve-wracking. It takes away time from your family and friends. It gives you back aches. It makes you drink loads of Diet Pepsi and eat dark chocolate (funny - I now prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate). But oh, the rewards! I wrote a piece tonight for this scene that I thought was so good, I couldn't believe I'd done it. And you know what I did? I emailed it to myself - just that little scene - just in case something happened to my file. How bizarre is that? I also used to stuff my hard copy of my first novel in my freezer - that was before my Mom bought me a fireproof safe - to make sure it survived any calamities.

If you're a writer, celebrate! Embrace your calling! Yeah - it's a strange, difficult, wonderful, awesome job. But really - would you have it any other way?

Not me!

"God created me to write. I will write no matter what."
~Madeleine L'Engle


  1. What a great post! And congratulations on (nearly) getting your chapter edited!! I had a great thought come to me for my character today and *gasp* sneaked a little note in my moleskine before I forgot - during church. Ack!

  2. Love the quote - and the kitten is adorable!

    Congrats on getting the edit done. I hear you on the hard work. I had a friend at work ask me if the waiting to get published was hard and I said, 'sort of, but at least I get to be doing something I love while I'm waiting!'

  3. What sweet kitties! Oh, my gosh!

    Yes, caging up the editor during the writing process and then bringing the editor back out to do the fixes -- whew! It's a challenge. I'm so glad you're enjoying the edits so much.

    And, actually, it's very wise to email yourself bits of the book. I have a backup address just for stuff like that.

  4. Great post, Melissa! I couldn't agree more.

    Congrats on the almost-complete chapter. That has to feel great!

    Editing is hard for me. I get so caught up in what I already wrote, that it stalls my creation of new material. I'm working through it...slowly. :)

  5. Editing *is* hard! I love it and I hate it!

  6. I love/hate the editing process, too, but it's well worth the effort.

    I'm grinning that you stashed your copy in the freezer. Verrah innovative!

  7. Good work, Melissa! And I'm with you--the work is hard, but SO fulfilling.

    (And oh, I want a kitten!)

  8. Good going, Melissa. Yes, it's hard. I guess we writers are gluttons for punishment, or something.

    Your daughter has the sweetest little face! :)

  9. Great post, Melissa.
    Writing is hard. And editing is hard. And turning off that 'inner editor' is, at times, impossible (at least for me). But, yes, when you write something that sings -- a paragraph, a page, a chapter, I can definitely understand emailing it to yourself! Why not!?

    My agent has me email her the 1st, 2nd and final drafts of my novels to her for safe keeping of all calamities.

    Magic requires special care.
    Enjoy and delight in the magic!!

  10. Glad to hear the writing/editing is coming along and that you're inspired.
    Request: more kitty pictures!

  11. Awwww - they're BOTH adorable :) The kitten reminds me of my sis's cat Cujo (yes, he earned the name).

    And you're right, writing is hard, but oh so rewarding. And I too prefer dark chocolate to milk :)


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