Posted by: jeannineatkins | May 20, 2009

Form and Sweet Madness on the Page

I’ve been getting back to my novel-with-poems, which has been part of my life for a few years. I like to come and go with various projects. I lean hard for a few months to half a year, then go to something else.

So the book I’ve called all kind of things is drafted, but with holes and repetitions and inconsistencies. And when I say holes, I mean visible gaps between sentences – a jump where I couldn’t decide how to transition – and sometimes, I’m embarrassed to say, holes within sentences, too. Or lumpy or ragged endings.

But, really, the book is kind of all there in its lump-of-clay way. I know the main characters, plot, and patterns, so I’ve spent some of the past few days wrestling scenes into place. Reshaping dialogue so that one person is actually talking to another – not, as in the rough draft, one person going on too long, talking to herself, or one person supplying both halves of the conversation. Oops, who’s she talking to? There’s a lot of pushing stuff around, but sometimes my fingers unclench a bit and almost fly. When I write new rough conversations, which I’ll have to unbend, unscramble, or rake though later.

There’s the joy.

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Responses

  1. Oh hooray for the joy! I’m still at the “staring at the hardcopy of my WIP first draft” stage. But I hope to reach over for it soon. It beckons.

  2. Well those manuscripts do need starting at. I hope you can give it a poke with your pen soon, and test it for life I’m sure is there.

  3. That sounds so satisfying. And you are so right about the joy. May it keep flowing for you.

  4. Talking to herself, that’s what I’m worried I’ll do in my first draft. I should just ACCEPT that I’ll do that and get my lump of clay out there.
    This makes me crave revision time!

  5. Thanks, Kathy.
    I was thinking of you in the library the other day, as you mentioned listening to listening to the Beowulf cd. I saw the Seamus Heany translations with lots of beautiful illustrations. Not what I’m looking for right now, but it did look cool!

  6. Ah, the grass is always greener!
    Yeah, first drafts — you get to do monologues! And hope that something happens….

  7. Love this description. I can see you at that potter’s wheel, pushing the clay about.
    Revision feels akin to a physical process to me, too, even if in this day and age it’s really only a matter of moving pixels and bytes.

  8. Raking, shaping, wrestling–sounds like you’re getting a good workout. 😉

  9. “There’s the joy” and the challenge. I feel it too – I’m about to tackle revisions of my first draft MG fantasy adventure and I’m a little hesitant. There is so much to do! I have my lists of what to keep in mind while I’m revising and I know it’ll be fine once I get started but still it’s like standing on a diving board saying 1-2-3 go. Now go! Go! 1-2-3…Maybe somebody should just push me in.

  10. Having a “completed” manuscript is one of the greatest feelings. And now you have something with shape and meaning to work with. Enjoy!

  11. I guess it’s got to be physical if pushing around sentences makes our muscles sore.

  12. It feels like a workout, doesn’t it? All those sentences with minds of their own!

  13. Here’s your push off the diving board! The list will get wet, too, but that’s okay: all the important directions will be clear.

  14. It’s good we have all these mini completions along the way to celebrate, then keep us going… to the next “completion.”


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