Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Devil On My Shoulder

It all started with New Years. An anti-resolution. Most people say, "I'd like to write a book some day." I say, "Hell with this, I'm not stopping at one!" And I didn't.


I have five unedited and/or unfinished manuscripts saved on my computer. Since February 2009. You see the issue here. Too much writing, too little editing. To reiterate: I hate resolutions. They're stupid because no one ever follows through. So I made a declaration instead. I'm going to edit instead of write this year. Well, sort of. I have to add 30,000 to one novel because it's far too short.


We're ten days into the month. I have my oh-so-darling novella in hand. The apple of my eye, a funky little historical-fantasy-romance number. It met its happily ever after at somewhere around 28,000 words. I never intended it to be anything other than a novella. Which would've worked out really well (you know, sans editing) if it wasn't for this supporting character. He thought he deserved a novel too. I blame National Novel Writing Month for some of my problems. Like the historical romance I wrote in '09. And never finished. I also blame the organization for this year's encouragement of that supporting character's whinging for his own novel. At least I finished that one. Okay, mostly finished. Because I'm thinking of adding another 10,000 words. Or so. Which brings me back to how I'm always writing and never editing.


I can tell you why I never edit. I'm a writer. Not an editor. I kind of played hookie during my college journalism editing class. 'Any idiot can edit,' the devil on my shoulder whispered. 'Cause your the bomb, baby!' Wrong. I was notorious then (and possibly now) for turning in unedited assignments. Professors came to me, cross-eyed with frustration, over obvious mistakes in my papers. All right, not really, but some of them were pretty dumb. A simple read through would've made it look like I actually gave a care.


It's not like I'm walking confidence or anything. It's more like, hurry and get it done! Which isn't a bad way to write a novel. Don't spend agonizing moments lingering over some scene that's gonna blow chunks anyway. Pound that puppy out and have it done. Fix it later, is my motto. Later seems to have forgotten to swing by my place.


Bringing us back to that anti-resolution. The declaration. Which sounds way cooler anyway. Chapter one of this spiffy little number I've been working on got awful, awful reviews in the first contest I submitted it to. Okay, the only contest I submitted it to. Odd, because people seem to like the characters.... So I cleaned it up only to find myself almost in tears over its next critique session. Someone said, "I know this is a first draft." My heart ceased beating for what should've covered five, six beats. It wasn't a first draft. It was a second. Fu-- uh, oops.


Spellbinding characters ... check.
Superb setting ... check.
Page-turning plot ... check.
Magical writing ...
Um, hello? Magical writing? *Taps microphone. Feedback echoes throughout the building. After that, silence.*


Break it down into epic fail proportions: no dialogue in the first three pages. No description of our amicable--and super hot--hero. It was wrong of the hero to slip the heroine the tongue right after they met. Never mind that he's a brash cowboy. And apparently gypsies (yes, gypsies) have poor vocabularies.


The Shoulder Devil grabbed his gut in a belly laugh. Poor little thing almost fell off, he was going at it so hard. 'You're the bomb, baby,' he chortled.


In addition to that feisty little devil, I live with this entity I like to call Evil Editor. She's the one who pipes up when the going gets rough, not to be cliche or anything. 'Well,' EE said, 'didn't listen to me, didja? I could've told you it was crap. Who was right? Again. For the... let's see. Ten plus ten, multiply by infinity. Well, without doing all the math, it rounds out to, let's say the mil-bil-tril-jillionth time.'


I hate you, Evil Editor. Multiply my hate for your snarky comebacks times infinity, will ya? Tell me what that equals. You only need one finger to count on and I'll bet you can guess which one.


Moving past juvenile insults (to imaginary forces of evil no less) and trying to focus on the fact that I have awesome characters, a superb setting and a page-turning plot, I set out again to add all of those missing details. I'm faced with one conclusion. It's gonna be a long novel, especially with Shoulder Devil and Evil Editor hanging around. Can't you guys get a hobby?


Here we go. Round three. Sometimes it just takes a while for the novel to get off on the right foot. It's gonna take drowning out Shoulder Devil and Evil Editor--even if it means using off-key singing.

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