Tuesday, March 25, 2008

NaNoEdMo: Serendipity...Please?

*****

I love first drafts. There’s magic in those first words to hit the page, an energy that crackles as my fingers fly across the keyboard. First drafts are where I unearth those precious secrets held close in the hearts of my characters, where I see their strengths and their beauty and their frailties. This is where they first reveal themselves to me, their hearts fluttering with nervous trust.

By comparison, editing slogs along. This is where I assure my characters that I know what they’re capable of, that it’s time for them to open up that little bit more, to risk that bit of extra danger. I nag them, I push them, I make them push back. I fill in the gaps and sweep up the mess I left my first time through. Editing is wringing potential from the first bare bones of my story. It’s the last leg of the journey before I let my baby go. Editing is hard, uphill work.

It’s no wonder so many novels never get past the first draft stage. For every minute I spend productively editing, I spend 10 minutes checking my email, sighing and staring at the monitor. I can’t tell I how many times I’ve looked at a rough draft of a scene and thought, “This is it. This is the scene that’s going to bust this book’s balls for good.” I find myself literally panic stricken. I rub my forehead, scrub both hands over my eyes, let out a heartfelt sigh. Sometimes, when I’m really flummoxed, I even grrr at the monitor.

But then I hit that moment of kismet, that serendipitous split-second where everything clicks into place. Suddenly, I see what I need to do—cut this, add to that, scrap those three lousy pages. As the story shapes up, a tremendous high carries me aloft. I know I’ve given my characters the best vehicle I could. I did them justice. Somehow, I made them live and breathe.

I’m trapped in a scene that’s killing me right now. The last precious EdMo hours are ticking away. Beth is lost to me, somewhere beyond the fog that’s clouding my consciousness. I rub my forehead, sigh, but I can’t hear her voice. Without her, my work is empty. I wish she’d come home.

So I stare at the monitor. Somehow, I have to hang on to what I have: faith in kismet, faith in the process. I’ve been through this before, trod this uphill road, felt my feet too heavy in my boots. I have to believe. She’s out there. I trust serendipity will bring her back.

3 comments:

barb michelen said...

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Linda said...

I could've written this, it SO resonates... good luck with the editing. It's my favorite part of the process - when it goes. Peace...

Greta said...

Linda, thanks so much for dropping in. Sorry your comment sat unposted for a few days. I completely missed that this was waiting in a queue. Duh. I'll get the hang of this eventually.