Friday, December 10, 2010

My sweet little Frankenbaby

This makes count number two of times I've talked about Frankenthings on this blog. If anyone's keeping track.

We finished our creative writing class last night and turned in our portfolios of work completed for the class. Part of the portfolio work was to revise the two pieces we workshopped during the semester. Let me tell you, revising the first two chapters of my WIP when I'm only seven chapters into the thing anyway was...bizarre. It messed with my mojo a little, but I think it was a necessary practice. It forced me to do research earlier than I would have, which has helped shape the plot of the rest of the story. It's also saved me a nightmare of revision work trying to incorporate those changes throughout an entire WIP (instead of just seven chapters of it).

Still, it felt a bit like I was turning in a Frankenbaby. I haven't yet extended my revisions through the other existing chapters, and I've cut up a lot, added a lot, moved a lot around, and changed a lot. In my head, as the manuscript creator, the story is a patchwork of plotlines that have evolved over time but haven't necessarily been updated. I've toyed around with revisions before, but I've never shared a revised work with anyone, and frankly I've given up on revisions more than once because I got so fed up with the process (JUDGEMENT FREE ZONE). So handing in something that felt that hacked up was...weird.

Still, the process taught me what is probably the most important lesson I've learned in writing so far: letting go of perfection. What I see/expect in my head and what actually comes out on the paper are two different things, but the reader doesn't know that. This can go both ways (another important lesson I learned) (also, don't be gross), but it can work in your favor - the reader only knows what's on the page. They don't know what you feel like you left out, or what you meant to do with the character but forgot about, or how you wished you could have more accurately captured the clothing descriptions. All they know is what you give them, and they don't know about all the Frankenbaby scars it took to get there.

Although when I think about it, it still sometimes seems like a lawn that someone's done one too many donuts on.

What about you? Does revising make you feel as if your story is falling apart? Do you struggle to keep up with all the loose ends? Or do you thrive on the thrill of the cut?


Laurel Garver said...

I love revising. I hate drafting! Elle Strauss calls it "making clay" and it's hard for me to leap into the giddy mess of it. Cutting, moving, shaping, tweaking...these things can feel unsettling and empowering at the same time. Control! Power over this world!

And it's true that your readers will have no clue how much jumble led to the final.

Solvang Sherrie said...

There was a point during my revisions when I wondered if I'd cut too much, moved too much, changed too much for the story to even work anymore. This is why having fresh eyes look at your writing is SO helpful. They'll tell you if it's working or not.

Lola Sharp said...

Oh yeah. I have plenty of Frankenbabies. Revisions are hellish to me for the precise reasons you mentioned. It's like doing a Rubik's cube...

Congrats on finishing your class and learning a lot about your process.

Happy weekend, my friend.

SariBelle said...

I haven't yet done a proper revision (something about having to have a finished draft first) but I do tend to go back and go over what I've written every now and then. This is mostly because my WIP has taken me so long to write that sometimes I forget some of what I've written.

What I'm finding is:
1. I hate revision. I find it overwhelming having such a raw piece of work and being given the job of trying to make it as close to perfect as possible.
2. The more I go over my WIP, the less I like it. I'm hoping it's because I've just read it one too many times and it's just becoming a bit too.. familiar. In any case I think I'm experiencing this

Melissa Gill said...

I love revising. It's a chance to make my real vision come out instead of the goofy sloppy stuff that I glob out at first.


I've finished my memoir at least five times. Each time I think I'm done, I crack open a bottle of Welch's Sparkling Cider. Then something in my life occurs that must be included, or I have a memory from childhood that must be introduced and incorporated throughout. I have begun to hate this project, which tells me that I'm probably closr than ever to really being finished.

Congrats on completing your class! I look forward to reading your little baby!