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Cathy: Writing, Editing, and Not

This post is kind of a way for me to work out hitting a wall in my manuscript.

All I want is to finish it. In my heart, I still love it. But after so many edits, this edit is really a bore to do. In my house, two kids are gone for a month, including the most distracting one. In and around my house is a lot of neglected house stuff, largely due to my trying to focus on the manuscript.

When I try to write at home, even if I have my mother-in-law take the 3-year-old out of the house for a couple of hours, invariably I putz around finding other things to do until, lo and behold, they return, and I haven’t even pulled the critiqued manuscripts out of my tote bag. Like the day last week, when Toots decided waking up throwing up was the way to go that day rather than out of the house with Grandma. I sank her into the couch with Netflix streaming kid videos, and the next thing I knew, I found myself hacking branches in the yard in 100 degree heat, because that apparently was immensely preferable to actually finishing my novel.

And I had a good session on it the day before when I did my usual Tuesday routine of packing everything up and taking it to the library to edit. Okay, so the next day, off to the library I went, and knocked through two chapters in a fairly painless edit session.

As I write this, I look back over this very morning, noting that, yes, I had an early doctor appointment, from which I left a bit upset, mostly just burnt out on doing the specialist shuffle, so I gave myself permission to see another human being, I mean tea chat with a friend, and then another friend who is back in town visiting from far far away showed up, and finally I trotted myself off to the library. I couldn’t settle in as the place was teaming with people, and then the summer camps came tromping through in droves, so I turned right around, having never even opened the laptop.

Home again, Toots was getting a dose of the one program I don’t let her watch, which frustrated me, because I thought I was pretty clear about that to Grandma, but I didn’t make a stink about it. (Do we really need one more show for her to request immediately and often?) I preferred to focus and to attempt to write during and after lunch, Toots’s nap time, and when Grandma typically goes upstairs for a reading rest of her own.

Well, then I started getting ideas. My, isn’t it a lovely day out there, not a hundred degrees, now that we had a good thunderstorm last night. I know! I’ll go out to the picnic table around the side of the house that has a little privacy and an outlet! I got all set up and touched my black keyboard in the sun — youch! like a stove burner that has been left on.

Trot everything — drink, lunch, boiling laptop back inside, two trips — turn on the a/c in the office, and try to “white noise out” that Toots is not interested in napping at that time. Stare at my laptop screen and start typing this instead.

So what is my problem? Why am I having such difficulty with starting a single editing session? Any session for that matter? The excitement is inside me to Git ‘er Done! Yet instead, here I am devising ways to rearrange the office so that I can work better, more comfortably, get more organized, etc. Frankly, I have rearranged the place a dozen times, and nothing seems to work, and that box of papers that grows and shrinks but never disappears is still in more or less the same spot — not in the file cabinet — it has sat for the past five years since we moved it to Virginia from Massachusetts. Don’t ask me how many residences that thing has moved from or the decades involved, I implore you! It is my my little hoarder albatross. It’s a smallish box, I swear.

I have little over a week before I retrieve the boys and my mayhem returns to its full tilt, after a camping trip with all the kids. I have about 12, albeit, short chapters to go, a bunch of query letters to write and send, and a writing group twiddling their thumbs to see this last draft before I send it out.

Maybe just putting it down where I can see it: 12 chapters in about as many days, is what I needed to do. I sure hope so. Once I get started, I’m good for at least a chapter a session, so now, I just need to do it. Hello five a.m. for the next week? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Update, written one week later:

I can’t rush writing, especially editing.

I managed to accomplish the exact same amount as I averaged prior to last week’s nose to the grindstone post. It was an ineffective way for me to work. I painfully edited one chapter, and less painfully edited a much longer chapter in two long sessions last week.

Today, I decided at the last minute to work at home and read through what I currently have, remove glaring repeats and other flaws, just a little tightening here and there. Mostly I needed to read through the manuscript for the sake of catching myself up and making sure I continue appropriately tomorrow. My mind is muddled with former rewritten details, so that I don’t know exactly what I have in this draft or if I removed something, oh say, three drafts ago, and am still referring to it in this one. That would be bad.

So far, in a couple of hours this morning, I’ve read through the first quarter. I like it better than the last draft, and am having some good edit sparks along the way. Enter ye olde highlight and back space function.

Now I know why I wrote poetry and short stories for the past 25 years. This longer stuff is a pain in tuckus. But I like it. Figures.

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One Comment Post a comment
  1. Bravo Cathy! oh girl it is definitely why I still have not taken the leap to a novel. You are doing it!

    August 3, 2011

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