Monday, July 28, 2008

Purgatorio

God I'm tired of talking about Silksinger. I feel like this is my blog for the past year: "Blab blab blab Silksinger blab blab. Blab? Blab Silksinger blab blab blab."

And yet, here I am for more blabbing, though I think it will be short, because I am tired, not only tired of hearing myself talk about Silksinger, but tired of being awake.

Spent the whole day today revising one chapter. Wrote a new scene to do a better job of introducing the villain -- giving him "an entrance." This was at the request of my editor. I'm all for a strong entrance, and he's right. My villain had one, but it was fairly late in the book, when the main character finally lays eyes on him. But early on, when the reader first *meets* him, it wasn't very dramatic. So that's what I've been working on. It oughtn't have taken all day, but it did. I think it's because my mind is just weary. I had hoped, after that month of not leaving the house while I worked feverishly on draft 2, that I wouldn't have to create any wholly new scenes for draft 3. But here I am, doing just that. Yesterday I did another one. And I'm tired.

I like revisions. I do. At first, sitting down with a cleanly printed manuscript with the job of taking something that has been written already and making it better, well, it's so exciting. But towards the end of the process, it can begin to feel a little like. . . Purgatory. I mean, I can honestly envision this as Purgatory -- Purgatory is a kind of library (but I think the shelves would all be filled with boring books, or maybe accounting ledgers, or something sucky like that), and you have to sit in a study carrel for all eternity endlessly rewriting the same book. Wouldn't that be awful? I've never read The Divine Comedy -- was there anything about revisions in Dante's Purgatory?

(That notion just reminded me of something silly my first illustration teacher in art school said on the first day of class. I don't recall the context, just that he had us imagine that we got to live an entire second lifetime, but we had to spend it watching a video of our first lifetime! Would you do that? If, at the end of your long life, a bureaucratic angel were to come to you with a clipboard and give you the choice to a) die, or b) spend the next 82 years watching an endless video of the life you just lived. . . what would you choose? My first thought was no, I don't want to spend 82** years watching a video, but then, it would be cool to see your whole life all over again, all the forgotten stuff, the good and the bad. It would get boring too, especially days like today, where I'd have to watch me spend eleventy hours writing three pages, with much sighing and slouching and petting of the dog.)

(P.S. to last paragraph -- that was the same day I met Jim.)

Anyway, my tired mind is hijacking this supposedly short post with rambles about the afterlife. What I meant to say was just a little bit about the mechanics of tackling this draft. When I got the manuscript back from my editor, I laid it open and went through it page by page, reading along, taking the sort of *easy* suggestions that can be changed on the page and don't require a ton of rethinking. I tried to cut unnecessary words and passages, too, and more importantly: I made notes on index cards of the *not-easy* changes that still needed to be made -- rewriting scenes, clarifying important things, etcetera. Those index cards above are only some of them. Those don't include the ones I've already done and crossed off. Yeesh, man. It is nice shifting the *accomplished* ones into the other stack.

Anyway, that's how that's going. Good, but tiring. Mind feels like honey left too long in the crock.

Sleep. Wake up. Revise. Repeat.

**82 years chosen at random. I plan to live longer than that. Like Sapphire, I plan to live 150 years and learn to fly before I get to the end.

12 comments:

Amy said...

Hi Laini! I've never left a comment to you before but I have been reading about you for awhile. I am an Oregon girl too (born 45 min from Portland and lived in this same town for 19 years). I just want to say be thankful you have someone pushing you to edit your book and revise it quickly because I finished my first novel at 14 and 5 years later I am STILL editing it lol! I just recently got back into writing after losing a bit of my urge to write for a year there. I read a story the other day and it triggered the writer in me so here I am starting in again and I only wish I had someone pushing me and people relying on me to get through it. Just remember you're going to do an amazing job on this book and the hours of "purgatory" are going to be worth every minute of watching to get to see your end product!

Disco Mermaids said...

Wow! I understand why you're tired. But just so you know...I NEVER tire of hearing about your writing process. Keep it coming!!!

-Robin

p.s. We will miss you and Jim dearly at the National Conference this year. Waaaahhh!!

Nerd Goddess said...

*waves pompoms*

GOOOOOOOOO Laini! You can do it!

Enna Isilee said...

Heh. What's really weird is that I've actually THOUGHT that before! My thought was, "It would be cool to see a video of my life" then my second thought was, "But that would take WAY too long!" finally my third thought, "Maybe a synopsis of the exciting parts. Then it'd only be about twenty minutes!"

;)

And, yes, I think quite a few of us enjoy hearing about your writing process, even Silksinger.

Jehsyka said...

Watch my life all over again? Well...I'd do it, just to remember my life before I passed and laugh and cry at the good and bad times. It would get boring though. Imagine watching yourself while you sleep or while you watch TV!

tone almhjell said...

I've conferred with my brother and sister and we have a couple of questions before we can decide about the video:

1. Will there be snacks? Because, given that we couldn't eat ourselves to a premature death, we could really stuff our faces. More cupcakes? Why, certainly!

2. Will there be a test at the end? Cause if not, we could get a lot more sleep.

3. Will we feel our bodies? If so, would they be at their 82 year old, dying state? (That's right, we want no discomfort or pain, but we do want the snacks).

4. Is a fast forward button absolutely out of the question?

If all these turn out the way we hope, we're in.

Alexandra Saperstein said...

That is such a weird coincidence that you are writing about this today. Tickets go on sale tomorrow for Alexandra Saperstein, 1972-1992. Boring title but it is the complete, unabridged first twenty years of my life. Once you are in the theatre though, you have to stay. The doors won't unlock for a full twenty anos.

S R Wood said...

Laini -- The book is not the boss of you! Show it no quarter!

I LIKE reading about the writing and revision process. It's very comforting to know books don't spring, Athena-like and perfect, from the author's head.

AND, it's not nearly the same thing since I'm unpublished, but it's really encouraging to see you working through some of the same issues I am. For example, just now I'm teetering on the see-saw of showing things (villains, plot points) to the readers but not necessarily to the characters. Not the same thing. As I recently realized.

Laini Taylor said...

funny comments about the *life video* idea!

Tone:
1) Snacks: yes, absolutely. It would be a mystical realm of snacks, and whatever you thought of would appear. The chair, I think, would be beanbags that look like big pink cupcakes.

2) No test; sleeping okay.

3) Yes, I think you would have to age.

4) No fast forward. That's kind of the point.

Still up for it?

And Seth: yeah, it took me a while to figure that out too. This book, especially, has so many secrets and revelations that it's been interesting deciding when to reveal things to the reader vs. the characters, and how best to frame the revelations. It's fun and confusing!

Tracey said...

I understand the temptation of setting standards of how long something OUGHT to take, but I think it only adds to frustration and it's as counterproductive as staring at the clock in the middle of a restless night, reminding yourself how much you SHOULD be asleep. In the end, it doesn't matter if it takes you an hour or a day or a week to write a necessary scene.(except for the whole editor waiting thing...ya know..)
Oddly enough, my novel is partly based in an afterlife setting where souls review their former lives via a film projector. The predominant footage involves critical points in order for them to gain a higher perspective and to ascend spiritually. Snacks ARE available. What's life after death without junior mints?

hwalk said...

Editing is difficult sometimes. Especially trying to keep track of everything. I like your method.

tone almhjell said...

Ok, the snacks are a deal breaker. So we're in. After all, we've got nothing better to do.