Thursday, June 17, 2010


This is a cross post from the Wyrdsmiths blog:

Lyda and I went to a coffee shop and wrote yesterday, as we do most weeks. Naomi and Doug are taking the summer off from our meetings, due to child care and (in Doug's case) a book deadline.

Work does get done, when one writes with other people. I finished revising a story yesterday. But there is always the temptation to talk.

I'm planning to go to another coffee house today and revise another short story manuscript. Writing in coffee shops gets me out of the house, which is good. Picking a place that is a 20-30 minute walk means I get some exercise going to and fro.

The idea (right now) is to clear out my backlog of almost finished short stories. This is not a huge project. However, I have trouble making final revisions and getting the story out the door.

After that, comes the novel I have been (in theory) working on for the past 2-3 years. It's amazing how slow I am compared to Lyda and Kelly especially. I don't expect to ever be as fast as they are, but I think I can learn to be a bit more rapid.

At the same time, I am working on first drafts of two YA novels. I tend to have more than one project going at a time. When I get stuck on one, I can move to another. This is fine, so long as I don't have too many projects. When they become too numerous, I get distracted.

I like first drafts, because they surprise me. I never know exactly where I am going, though I may have a rough idea. But it's easy to stall. I often need to take a few days -- or weeks -- off, because I really don't know where I am going.

Revisions are easier, but also more boring; and I run into my dislike of finishing things. If you never finish a manuscript, it never becomes its less-than-perfect final self; it's always possible to dream of improvement; and you never have to send it out into the world and risk the rejection of editors.

What I need to do is push through the resistance to ending a story, say "It may be imperfect, but it's done," and shove it out the door. I often have the experience of going back to a story after it's published and saying, "This is pretty good," though I disliked it as I finished it.

If readers like a story that I still feel dissatisfied with, that is very cool. My own opinion may change. Thoughtful readers can hardly be wrong.


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