Saturday, March 24, 2012

You Are Not Your Tonsils

Cut 'em out!
That's Winnie's big news this week. 
Popsicles and ice cream, here we come! 

And as I begin another manuscript revision, 
I reflect that life and writing are not far apart. 

Writing seems simple. 
It's only words, right? 
Plop some on a page and send it off to get published!
Such a romantic life, those writers! 

But the drafts, oh, the drafts!
Who knew there were so many revisions? 

Like life, writing is messy. 
It does not fit into boxes squarely. 
It takes pain and scratching out, 
deleting beloved characters and rearranging, 
knocking down not only small sentences, 
but bones and bracing, 
fireplaces and front doors.

A flexible canvas is essential -
or, at least as essential 
as the knowledge that 
you are not your manuscript.

You are lovable, 
even if your story isn't, 
even if your words need major surgery, 
or your book didn't make the New York Times Bestseller List,
or win any awards, 
or your blog only had two viewers last month. 

You are not your tonsils.

My sage writer brother advised me this week 
after a sound critique -

"Let it sit a few days, 
do something else that makes you happy, 
then approach your story with a little distance
and a bottle of wine."

So I sewed. 
Can you tell we're into The Sound of Music?
It was a happy treat
for Sound of Music-obsessed Winnie 
before her big tonsil extraction.

And then, to revisions. 

I love Scrivener for writing, 
but I needed something more tactile.

If I had a writing studio, I'd make a cork-board wall. 
Alas, the dining room does not lend itself to cork-board walls.

This is my solution.
It's a long strip of foam-core, 
layered with rows of card-stock 
left open at the top
like a hanging file rack.  
Now I can niche notecards and shuffle scenes around 
to my heart's content! 

Let the revisions begin!


Jan Morrison said...

oh dear woman! Revisions can be heaven - I have post-revision depression I think. I'm letting it pretend to be 'fear of query process' but alas alack I know that isn't it. I love your revision aid - I love all crazy writing aids - I do big ole mind maps and poster boards with stickies and everything - and it has to be touchable - not virtual! I send you loads of good vibrations - and give love to Winnie as she gets somewhat 'revisied'!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Oh, those kids painting! I love the images and the idea that creation needs flexibility.
and you really got me with we're lovable even if the story isn't. That is so important to remember as we travel down the wonderful and scary road of writing.
My best to you in revision and to Winnie, too!

Faith Pray said...

Jan, thank you for the revision joy! I will face it with good courage while tending to our tonsil revisionist.

Faith Pray said...

Tricia, viewing myself apart from my work is becoming key to my survival as a writer! Thank you for the good cheer!

MollyMom103 said...

The act of revising is wonderful, I love it. The act of thinking about revising, I find painful.

My sister is also a writerly sort and she always says: "Think less, do more." I have taken that to heart.

Words A Day said...

Thats a great idea from your brother - do something else that makes you happy( and the wine)might try that for a while:)...I love your crafty hanging file system for scenes.
Good luck with your revision!

Dawn Simon said...

Wonderful post! I love it! Your kids and your words are beautiful. It's so true. Great analogy!

That Ben...he's a smarty.

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Pushkin's mother couldn't have said it better, Faith. Love the tribal support for surgery preparation. Hoiya hoiya, hoiya hoiya, heeeyyyyYA!


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