Monday, October 19, 2009

Polishing rice to a mote

One of the things we went over in class is polishing a manuscript to death.  It seems I've been doing that.  

I should have known.  I know better than to turn my paint into mud, so why in the world would I do the same with words on the page?  Going over a work is fine.  Going back to fix things that need to resonate with things written later, no problem.  But I've been playing with sentences, even individual words, trying to get that perfect lightning/lightning bug thing going.

At least with my process, that may need to happen on the first draft, because work that I turned in that I thought was some of my best work couldn't hold a candle to the stuff I wrote overnight for the class.  And you know what?  That was true for everyone in the class.


Just think of what we could do with a longer deadline so we could really think things through and no rewriting?

I firmly believe that learning to rewrite words on the page is critical--at a certain stage in a writing career.  Those are important skills, at least in my opinion, if for no other reason than it would be good to be able to respond to an editorial request without falling apart.  On the other hand it seems I've gotten past that stage.  My revision skills went from productive to destructive somewhere along the line.  

My classmates shared that trait.  We are Borg.  (We all had similar problems, and we even came up with similar story ideas until K&D started handing us completely different news articles to write from.)

So it's back to Heinlein's Rules for me, and with a confidence I didn't have before.  I've now had complete strangers, over a baker's dozen of them, tell me my writing is better when I don't polish it to death.  I may write a little more slowly and be more considered with those first word choices as a result.  Or not.  I'm not sure what it'll do to my writing speed.  I'll be interested to find out.

In other news, no news about Brian yet.  We'll be going to the humane society again in a bit to see if he's there.  I suspect he isn't.  They called when a dog matching his description came in last time.  They'll probably call again when another comes in.  But we'll look just the same.  Maybe they haven't had time to give us a ring and he'll be there, fanning his tail and looking very apologetic.  

That would be incredibly wonderful.


C.S. said...

So glad you're back...and that you heard more about the overpolishing bit. Worried about Brian. Last weekend, I drove around the area over there looking. Got any clues as to which direction he might have started out from? Have you looked over the bluff yet?

The Moody Minstrel said...

Good grief. How do I sign up for this class?