Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Downhill summer

Well, the blog is two days late, but the drafting I spent my brief vacation committing to worked out right on time. I'll take that trade. Two weeks, twelve chapters. And aside from the seasonal heat, I'm fairly ecstatic to be back to work. It was surprisingly stressful to be worried about failing to make the deadlines I set for myself, but on Memorial Day at 12:02 I finished the last edits on the last chapters I wrote, and didn't even pass out. I did exhale heavily, though. Also, I learned some things, possibly invaluable things.

I call the concept virtual distance. When a writer writes something, it's not perfect. Usually, it isn't even close to as good as it can be, hence the need for editors. And it's a fair question to wonder about why a writer, who supposedly puts words together so well, cannot edit their own work. A popular answer, and one that further expands on the concept, is that "the writer is too close to it." To a certain degree, all of us who do this sort of thing, when we look at at work, or talk about it, can remember massive amounts of it with high specificity. We know what we meant, in almost every case, and in a lot of cases, too, we also can easily recall how we put those sentences down. So much so, that when we go back and look at it, we will oftentimes fill in blanks, smooth over mistakes, and alter things in our mind as we go. We have a more difficult time being objective, so that other person, that editor, is needed to give neutral perspective.

With a lack of editor, time is a viable substitute. Virtual distance can be created by more or less forgetting what we wrote or how we wrote it, so when we look at it, we've become a stranger to our own words, an editor, as it were, and we can then hack and slash whatever it is into fit submission. The writing I did over the break, specifically, didn't take a week, but I also wanted to go back and look at each chapter I wrote, and with foreign eyes as well. That required space. That required time. Time I did not really have.

Which is how I happened upon my discovery, because along with all that writing I did, I also pragmaticaly went about trying to see friends during my free time as well. I might have even overachieved in that regard, too. Some days I would see two different groups of people, some days three. Hours of diverse stimulation and taxing distraction which helped me forget what I had been doing that morning. Those occassions, and another day or so, a night of rest, all culminated in my ability to go back and look at my chapters and frown, really frown at the confusing parts and be impressed by the impressive parts, congratulatory as if I was reading someone else's words. It was very effective overall, for the process, but also very tiring. And there wasn't even any alcohol involved (well, not much).

Of course, it's hard to really know whether or not something is really effective. Either way, I'm currently working through the outlines, denoting this month as the home stretch. All three of the stories are in their final acts, and the goal of finishing before August is well within reach. Things worked out a bit marvelously. Ever since starting at the beginning of the year, I had been outlining ahead of my chapters, but at the doubled pace, I did much more writing than planning, and caught up with myself. Now, I have some time to breathe and work through how it all shakes down.  

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