Sunday, August 20, 2006

On rewriting and believing

An immodest thought: I like my short stories. I think the style is spare and straightforward, and I like that. I had this thought on the way to church this morning, so maybe it was an epiphany. But my next thought was that I'm not writing the novel the same way. I was writing the expected words, and it sounded like anybody's writing. Not mine. So I spent the afternoon rewriting the first two chapters that I've done. Problem there is that this is about the fourth day I've spent rewriting those chapters. I've got to move on to Chapter Three, or I'll spend my life rewriting two chapters. I keep thinking of things I want to add, change, tweak in those chapters, but I think moving on is part of the discipline of writing. This afternoon I wrote 450+ words on Chapter Three.
When I taught college freshmen last spring I harped about extra, empty words. Today when I went back over my own writing, with style in mind, I found lots of those dreaded meaningless words. The things that drag your writing down and make it ordinary. Someone else will have to judge if I succeeded in cutting enough, too much, etc. When you are writing with the knowledge you need at least 70,000 words, it's tempting to put in those empty words, hard to cut them out.
In my last post, I talked about the difficulty of believing. I think that revelation about style made me believe a ittle more because it improved the writing, made it my own. I'm not convinced but I can see it possible that this will find an agent and a publisher. But I've thought more about believing--and maybe I just don't believe that great success will be mine. I'm not aware of feeling unworthy but I've never seen myself as, say J. A. Jance. In other ways, too, I doubt--there are a couple of my projects out there that, if the gods smile on me, could fatten my nest egg nicely. But I have been afraid to let myself believe in them. Maybe that's the trouble--maybe I should start believing with all my heart that those gods will smile.
A note: I love it when people comment--those I know and those I don't. Leave your thoughts, and maybe we can talk.

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