where the writers are

Unlike my pal and fellow blogger Belle Yang, I can't really take a photo of my work in progress.  For one thing, it doesn't look as nice as I am not a talented artist.  And really, looking at my pages filled with scrawl doesn't really explain how it works for me.  The other strange thing is that my revision process doesn't always stay the same.  I want to be able to say that I am resolute in my process, always following along the same tried and true path, but that just isn't true, and I'm not setting out to be a liar at this stage of the game.

This novel that I'm working on was different in that it came to me in a pretty clear narrative, chronological flow.  I started at the beginning and kept going.  In times past, my writing seems to be a bit more recursive.  My first novel started out as a 17 page short story that I ended up "filling," pushing open and lengthening the story.  I went back into it over and over again, at different points, telling and retelling.  I developed whole characters that I later ended up cutting.  Another novel I basically had to blast apart the first 80 pages, change many plot elements, and start from scratch, connecting it back up to page 81.

I also used to kill many more trees than I do now, printing out my entire manuscript a couple of times and writing all over each draft.  I think that it's likely a good thing to do, but I can't stand the waste of it.  I would definitely recycle the paper, but there it wold go, perfect paper back into the system.  Sort of makes my skin crawl.

So with this one, I relied heavily on my reader and now readers.  My friend Kris has been my bellwether for years, and I crossed my fingers hoping that the good feeling that I've had with this novel translated to others.  And seemingly, it did.  Yes, she had some very specific comments, places I needed to go in and fix and work on, but the novel "made  me happy."

That makes me happy!

So I've been going through her notes, and now, this weekend and probably the next couple of weeks, I will go through the entire thing, working a couple of the new ideas, connecting the loose threads and snipping and tucking and weaving them.  And then--off it will go to my agent.

And then, the whole process might start over again!  Cross your fingers for me, folks.


7 Comment count
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Books are like babies

each one, I think, teaches us how to "mother" it. Each book is different (just like every kid is different) so of COURSE your process is different with each book! (And how boring if it were the same... an assembly line...)

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But you read the stories

of the considered and similar process!  I always wonder why I seem to be winging it!


Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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My friend and songmonger,

My friend and songmonger, John Tabacco (one of Frank Zappa's "Musical Mafia") told me that writing a song is a lot like making hot dogs....you really don't want to know what goes in there."


Truer words were never spoken. :)



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What a relief

to know that you follow no well-worn path of experience. I like your muscular "pushing out" way of doing things, expanding. I love hearing about your and anyone's writing process.

As Eric says, you wouldn't want to know about how sausages are made, especially my current sausage. The past eleven years on the graphic novel was not a pretty journey. It was more like Brownian motion of gas molecules--or like the bumper car rides at the fair. In addition to the solitary work, I also got into some tussles.

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Ya Know

This is a really interesting thread, because people who have never been in the throes of the creative process will never really understand it.  There are often unmerited magical mystery properties assigned to the process, which is, more often than not, just a lot of sheer drudgery and toil.  There are moments of inspiration, but they are rare.

This is the good news/bad news aspect that we need to convey to prospective writers.  The good news is that you CAN learn to be creative.  The bad news is that it's just a plain whole lot of work.  But it's still a lot more fun than a job.



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Your Current Sausage

I can't tell you all the inappropriate things I just about wrote here.  But since this is a collected group of intellectuals, I refrained!

Everyone is different, that's the cliché, and that's the truth.  We get where we are going the way we do it, end of story.  But it's always so interesting.


Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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That's debatable!

We may be a "collective" group of intellectuals, but whether we're "collected" intellectuals remains to be seen. :)

eric the uncollected