Thursday, August 26, 2010

Walking Away

Why am I still writing?

I continue to work on a book I finished almost two years ago. In fact, I can't remember precisely when I finished it, but I know it's been a while. Don't read this and think, "Oh no, another stupid blogger who is also trying to become an author...yippee," click, delete subscription/bookmark/address, burn computer monitor sullied by idiotic writing.

Because seriously, even if I never become anything in terms of publishing credentials or the like, my blog is all right, isn't it? 

And anyway, it's not like I'm writing a book of sketches. No way. That would be awful. No one wants to read an entire book of that.

Wait, did I just inadvertently condemn my blog?

The point is, I continue to revise this book. I can't let it go. I like the ideas in it and some of the characters too much to bid it farewell. I might have a problem. Do I? Is intervention necessary?

I could start on another book and I have the ideas to do that much. However, this other book, well, I guess I like staring real hard at it all day long, trying to turn it into something more perfect. It's not easy either, because as you can see from my writing here, I'm no James Morrison. 

That's a joke. Jim Morrison. Haha. Excuse me if you think Jim Morrison was one of poetry's greatest accomplishments. The name has just been scrolling around in my head recently because of some insult someone else wrote about his writing. It wasn't me either. I think it was an agent saying that it's not a compliment to compare your writing to Morrison's. 

I think Stoker is worried about my absurd dedication to rewriting this book. I can tell. He's given me a couple concerned looks while trying to be casual and asking multi-layered questions such as, "So, do you think it's getting better the more you edit it?" And his voice rises an octave at the end of the sentence, suggesting he thinks it's not getting better. 

He's a good diplomat.

But yes, his concern makes sense. He's an engineer in Nashville. He mixes music, which is like editing a book. When a band does an album, they record it a certain way. Then an engineer (or someone not as qualified these days, like a plumber by day and a street-busker by night) adjusts things after the fact. Cuts out drums, replaces certain sounds (oh the wonders of digital editing), lowers the vocals, and all that. 

It's a different head-space from creation. So Stoker knows that at some point, you stop hearing things right and you have to just stop. Your brain gets too deep in the mix. Things begin to sound muddied. Noises don't strike your eardrum right anymore. It's the trees, you're lost in them. You need to get out and see the forest. 

For me the words are the trees and the story is the forest. Too much editing can crush the life out of a story. And at times I don't know when to just walk away. 

When I first rewrote the beginning of this story, a few months ago, I guess, I was extremely excited. I thought it rocked. I was full of self-congratulation and lauded myself the next Homer of epic stories. But now I feel like Chris Farley in Tommy Boy when he has crushed the rolls to death in the diner where they encounter Sea Bass. If I don't just walk away from this chapter, like RIGHT NOW, it will die. And I will hate it. It will resemble a dusty pile of yeast and flour (is that possible? I wanted to relay that it would resemble its most basic elements, but was the yeast a stretch?).

So I'm walking away, you hear? Story? I'm talking to you, Story. Don't think you can lull me into changing one more word in Chapter 1. I'm through. We're through. I'm going to continue coddling chapters 2 through 5 until they sing like sirens. 

I know you thought that by the time we arrived here in this post, I would be saying that I'm walking away from the book entirely. Ha! Psyche. No way. It's too good to give up on entirely. I'm a stayer. Even if it's to my detriment in the long run. 

Further, I had a conversation with the Universe earlier wherein I told the Vast Silence that I'm just going to keep plugging away. I can wait an eternity to get anywhere. I've done it before and so help me, I'll do it again. 

Reverse psychology sometimes work on the Universe/Vast Silence. It's a gamble, but really, what's NOT a gamble?  


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BIGMANlittleWORLD said...

J.D. Salinger continued to write about the Glass family well past many of his girlfriends, he couldn't bare walking away from his characters. On the other hand, he was kind of a nut job that lived in a secluded residence in NH. So maybe that's not a good comparison......

Unless you're going to buy a secluded house in NH.

And yeah, if Jim Morrisson hadn't drugged himself out I don't think he would have had ANY talent. Just sayin'

Nicole Grotepas said...

I was thinking of buying a secluded house in Richmond, UT.

Carrie said...

at least you have come to a place where the story is finished and editing is what remains. I edit while writing and frankly, never get anywhere. Even on my blog.

Nicole Grotepas said...

Hey Carrie!

Thanks for the comment and for reading. :) It's ok to edit while you write, I think. That's sort of inevitable with the ease of editing in a computer program. At least, that's the way I see it. Just don't give up. Your blog is cute and creative. Keep it up. :)

The Empress said...

I'm with Carrie. I think of it as editing, not rewriting. Editing always makes things so much better.

I'll go back and reread and find I used the same word twice in a paragraph. Go back, put it in twice again...

It'll be done when you feel it. I just think that.

Nice to meet you...liked your comment at hold the van's, and followed you over.

Nicole Grotepas said...

That's a good way to think of it. You're right. Calling it a rewrite is much rougher. I should do that. I think I will. :)

I checked out your blog and it's great. I also followed your links to the Pioneer Woman and I love her blog also. I'm dreaming of the day when I'll leave the city and get my own ranch. And I also think about homeschooling as a viable option for public school. Good links and good blogs. :)

Thanks for the comment! And feel free to come back again.