Wednesday, September 12, 2012

When Kelly Barnhill is RIGHT.

Some time last year, I took part in a panel discussion at the Minnesota Historical Society about writing science fiction/fantasy.  It was me and "the two Kellys," Kelly McCullough and Kelly Barnhill (and moderated by the always-fabulous Jody Wurl).  Jody did her best to tease out more than the usual topics despite the rather broad subject of the panel and we were having a jolly old time talking about all aspects of writing.  Then, someone from the audience asked about the revision process, to which Kelly Barnhill admitted that  her strategy went like this:

"I open up my novel and hit, 'Select-All, Delete.'"

Kelly McCullough and I laughed nervously, and then did a classic double-take, "Wait, what?  SERIOUSLY????"


It turns out Kelly Barnhill's method for revision is to completely delete her novel (yes, she means all of it, all 80,000 words) and rewrite it FROM SCRATCH. 

The other Kelly and I sputtered incoherently for several minutes, and number of writers in the audience had a complete heart attack at this thought.  I mean, from the bloodless look on his face, I'm not sure Michael Mirriam will ever quite recover from the shock.

But today, I get it.

I've been banging my head against the keyboard for a week trying to tease out a plot for this military science fiction proposal I'm trying to write, and it's time.

It's time to hit 'Select-All, Delete.'

Okay, so I'm nowhere near as brave as Ms. Barnhill.  I think I will probably secretly save what I've written in under a different name and stash it in the far-corners of my proposals file.  I also am losing less than 2,000 words.  But, the principle is the same.  This is not working.  I need a complete do-over.  I'm dumping the whole thing and trying agian.

So, yeah, there are times when Kelly Barnhill is RIGHT.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Why So Shiny!??

Why is it, that when you finally have some real work you need to do on writing, the whole world looks SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING!?

What's weird to me about this phenomenon is that I'm not usually one of those writers who talks about how hard the process is.  I would never deny that writing is hard.  It is.  But, for me at least, I love it just that much that the pain of revisions or the blank page or whatever is really quite mild in comparison to the sheer joy of getting to make sh*t up all day long.  (Best. Job. Ever.)  The things, instead, that tend to break my heart are the business end of things.  I can (and have recently) get really down about how hard it is to actually make a living as a writer. 

I have an awesome idea for a proposal right now.  It's been kicking around in my head for nearly a week and a half.  I can not. get. out.  I think, actually, my problem is two-fold.  Not only is the Internet really shiny when writing isn't flowing, but I also don't really have a good handle on my plot yet.  I need to figure out what story I want to tell.  I've got this awesome character that I'm really in love with, but I haven't figured out the "what's at stake?" question.  What is it that's going to make her grow and change over the course of 80,000 to 100, 000 words? 

I have some of her character "issues" (she's from a future "visible minority,") but I haven't figured out what about that is going to come to a head--and HOW.  The "how" has been kind of killing me, actually. 

But, I'm determined to have a finished draft of the proposal by Thursday.  Now I just have to not look at all the shiny bits...

Oh!  Squirrel!