Thursday, July 23, 2009

Old Habits Die Hard

I didn't feel well when I woke up yesterday. I won't get into specifics, but the thought that maybe I had a parasite did cross my mind (I later decided it's something more flu related). I didn't want to stay in bed, so I dragged our big comfy chair in front of the computer, aimed the fan at my head, and caught up on the internet.

At some point I got up to refill my water glass -- as I've done a million times before -- only instead of opening the fridge, I walked to the sink and turned on the tap. My glass was half full before I realized what I was doing. (I believe my exact words were, "What the hell am I doing?") I dumped out the water, got a clean glass, and filled it with the water from the pitcher in the fridge.

That got me thinking about my writing. Right now, the majority of my work on After the Fall is editing. The NaNoWriMo mantra to "let yourself write crap" has turned around and bitten me in the tookus. (Maybe that's why my stomach is upset.) Overall I think the story is good and I have that new-story glow, but I'm spending A LOT of time reworking phrases and shuffling things around. I've added about 200-300 words per chapter, yet it's taking me HOURS to get through 5 or 6 pages.

The beauty is, I'm catching all the writerly ticks that I didn't discover until the 4th draft of The Other Side. Repetition of sentence structure, overuse of crutch words, telling... This gives me hope that those habits might die after all.

16 comments:

Allen said...

First, I hope you feel better.

Second, what I think you are experiencing is getting better at editing. Instead of 4 to drafts, you are catching things earlier. In the long run, this will be faster.

The writing crap is about pushing through to the end. It doesn't mean to write crap for crap's sake, but to write something, even if it in need of repair later.

But you already knew that.

Melanie Avila said...

I'm feeling a little better today, thanks. And you're right. I know "they" say that your writing improves with each book you write, and I hope that's what's happening.

Natasha Fondren said...

Definitely it improves! Boy, let me tell you about my first one: I got stuck and switched HEROES in it! And it was published serially, so there was no chance to edit the mess I got myself into, LOL! And it is a total mess, even I crack up at its horror!

It took me until #8 or 9 before I felt a little more comfortable, but I'm a slow learner. :-)

Melanie Avila said...

Natasha, you've mentioned that before -- that just cracks me up. I know I'm not supposed to find humor in other's misfortunes, but that's funny. :)

Nadine said...

That's funny that you got up and filled your waterglass without thinking. I've put soap on my toothbrush before - I realized as soon as I did it, so odd!

Hopefully the way you are editing will mean less drafts, yay!

Aimless Writer said...

Feel better!

I think we learn something from every book we write.

Melanie Avila said...

Nadine, it's weird how your body works on auto-pilot sometimes. :)

Melanie Avila said...

Aimless, I agree! I'm amazed at how the lessons from The Other Side are already appearing in this wip.

JLC said...

Anything that makes editing less painful is awesome! Hope you are feeling better!

Melanie Avila said...

I think I'm finally feeling better!

Robin said...

Sometimes I forget to wash creme rinse out of my hair in the shower, if that makes you feel any better. Or brush my teeth with hair gel. . .

I'm proud of you! It sounds like you're becoming a great editor!

Melanie Avila said...

Eek! Hair gel in your mouth? Although someone recently said on facebook that they used diaper cream by mistake, so I guess there are worse things.

I take it your hair is rather limp on those days?

EriCan said...

Oh Melanie- that sucks. I'm glad you are feeling a little better. Sounds like you are getting better at catching the stuff, that's always a good thing.

I find that even now, as I'm writing the first draft, I catch things when I re-read parts. I'm sure that will always happen, it would be so hard to get it right the first time!

Laura Martone said...

Hi, Melanie. Glad to hear you're feeling better.

As someone still trying to revise her first novel, I hope that my next one will be easier to write (and revise) - as I can only hope that I'll catch more mistakes the first time around.

So, good luck with your latest wip... and chin up! At least you didn't realize your mistake AFTER drinking the water. :-)

Melanie Avila said...

Erica, that's great you're catching those things. Sometimes I wonder about the quality of my writing before I knew this stuff, back when I first decided I was good enough to write a book. Oy.

Melanie Avila said...

Laura, I'm So glad I caught myself! I never do that -- so weird.

Good luck with your edits. I can't say it gets easier, but for me, I'm at least learning what to watch for. I can't recommend good beta readers/crit partners enough!