You know, I thought it would be a lot of work – hard, tedious work – to get back to my languishing manuscript and start editing it. Again.

In actuality, I’ve spent a total (compressed, all-mashed-together time) of maybe six or eight months working on this thing. The rest of the time I fought through blocks, I fought critiques which left me tail-spinning, I fought through that stupid I-get-sleepy-when-I-open-my-document thing which happens … all of them internal mental issues, of course. But whatever the case, I had a hard time getting to it. Then the death knell tolled – I got more than halfway through what I determined would be my final edits when the thumb drive on which I’d saved most of my work died unexpectedly.

And without a back up anywhere.

I never really recovered from that one. It demoralized me to the point of being unable to get back on the saddle. So I didn’t. I tried a couple of times, but … my heart just wasn’t in it.

Then, about a week and a half ago, I decided … what the heck? What’s it going to hurt? I haven’t done anything, not really, concerning writing in so long I probably can’t make any improvements anyway. I’ll just … look at it. What’s the harm?

Before I knew it about an hour and a half passed, and I’d condensed the document from a full chapter of about 1200 words down to about 800. I decided it wouldn’t do to have an 800-word chapter, so I went on to the next one. Same thing. I combined them.

I felt pretty good. It was easy to do – I was surprised how easy it was, actually. I spotted the problems and issues and fluff without much forethought. I cleaned up the prose after gutting it. I realized how weak, flabby and bloated the prose was and … well, gutted it. That’s the best word I can use to describe the process. I wish I could do the same to my body – just open it up and slash out everything I don’t need. Man, I’d be about 145 pounds and 5% body fat. That’s how it oughta be.

Anyway, next day I did more of the same. I ended up taking three chapters of my “second edits” and combined them into a single chapter of about 3200 words. Then I went on to the next chapter, and the next, and the next. So far, I’ve mashed six chapters down into two, and that process isn’t completed yet as I write this. There are more to do, and many to be discarded. I found entire chapters I could dump during my last edits; this time the reduction will be even more dramatic, I’m sure. Last time I took the document from 94,000 words down to 87,000. I’m not sure I’ll have 70,000 when I’m finished with it this time.

In some ways, it’s scary. I can’t explain how I’ve been growing as a writer. I’m not writing. I’m not reading. I’m not participating in critique groups. I’m not part of a writer’s circle. Every once in a while I read craft blogs by writers and occasionally I’ll wade through one an agent posts, but for the most part I don’t have the resources to do that (long story which most of you already heard). But here I am, able to look at work I haven’t seen in eighteen months or so in any way and I’m able to improve on it, smooth it out, reduce it, tighten it, make it … passable.

Then it occurred to me: Maybe it’s because of  the work I did with the #flashfriday pieces and the technical book. (Okay, it didn’t occur to me – it occurred to my wife and SHE occurred it unto me, sorta.) Staying within very restrictive, tight guidelines and practice minimizing my prose made me stronger. MUCH stronger. And it shows.

I’m excited now. I jumped back onto my edits at a point I called Chapter 14 before. I have thirteen chapters which I’ve had the temerity to call “completed” staring me in the face, waiting for me to open them, daring me to see what I can do. Can I edit, reduce, tighten, strengthen, and retain the integrity of the piece? Its humor, its characters, its banter and wit (such as it was)? Or will I edit the life out of it?

One thing becomes obvious in this. I’m still growing as a writer, even though I’m not writing, and that is clearly the work of God in my life. You may disagree, but that’s the way I’ve seen this, and He deserves the credit; any talent I have comes from Him anyway. And because the growth is still happening, the process has become fun again. I’m excited about it again. And one other thing has become obvious for me too.

At the end of this process, this reduction and editing round, I will know whether the original story is worth saving or if it’s time to move onto something else. And just having that resolution alone is worth more to me than I’m able to express. I feel a freedom I haven’t felt in about three years. I can’t wait to see how this all turns out.

Stay tuned if you’re a mind to.


All original content copyright 2010 DarcKnyt


11 thoughts on “Rediscovery

  1. Oh, Knyt. I know how you feel. I felt the same way when I started again. Wonderful, isn’t it?

    So far, yes. 🙂

    That’s funny, Fal had to tell you you’d been writing all along. Somehow you ended up in a box where writing = novel, but you’ve been writing lots of things throughout the novel’s down time. This blog, Flash Fridays, the non-fic, other short stories. Plus you’ve been critting here and there. All of those things are writing activities. I never understood why you kept saying you hadn’t been writing, just as you delivered a new short to my inbox.

    I guess it’s like when I used to sing; I had NO idea how much until I stopped. (My ex-wife is a pro singer.) With writing, it’s not just what I’m actually doing; it’s happening in my head all. day. long. I’m correcting/editing/revising stuff I see in print or online, or I’m living my own personal novel/movie/fiction piece in my daily life and I’m “writing” the scene in my head, describing it as I go through the world. Then, there’s the actual work of the non-fic book, which made me learn to be concise. It may have been the best writing instruction I’ve ever had. 😀

    And btw, I like the title Moonlit Stroll. But I’m just a hack, so what do I know? 🙂

    Thanks, hon. I liked it too. I think I’ll leave it that way. 😉 Us “hacks” have to stick together, y’know? (And thanks for the feedback too.)

    • You’re welcome. I’m so happy you got your groove back. And now if you could get the Internet back, we could chat about it! I miss our chats.

      Me too. One bite at a time, I guess. I’d need to write a LOT of non-fiction books to be able to get a sustainable income from it. 😉

      Have a great day! (I bet you already are.)

      Thanks! It WAS a great day. 🙂 Hope yours was too, and today’s even better.

  2. Yeah, I’m not going to read all of that. I sense there are no sizzling gypsies in the post.

    You have the attention span of a goldfish. Go back and READ MY POST, damn you. It’s FULL of sizzling gypsies.

    • Okay, I’ve read this thing. Where are my sizzling gypsies? Edited chapters and fragged computers are not sizzling gypsies. This post is about personal growth as a writer and maybe, just maybe, as a person. There’s only one kind of personal growth a man can get from a sizzling gypsy and that’s a growth in your pants.

      Did I leave out the sizzling gypsies again? Darn. Sorry dude.

      I tell you, man. You’re trying me, man. I’ve had it up to here, MAN!

      Yikes! Okay, okay … so, once upon a time in the quiet suburb where WIGSF lives, a band of gypsies pulling trailers behind beat-up old station wagons took up the local park near WIGSF’s house. They clambered out of their vehicles amidst clouds of blue-white cigarette smoke and exhaust fumes and began to juggle miniature Hula-Hoops and bowling pins. One of them was a sizzling, dark-haired beauty who beckoned WIGSF as he watched through his bedroom window, her red-painted nail flashing in the midday sun as she curled her finger, urging him on … come to me, WIGSF … come to feel my firm curves, my supple flesh, my long cascades of raven hair …

      How’s that? You can take it from there, I’m sure.

      • it’s awfully hard to comment with only one hand on the keyboard, thank you very much

        Make sure you clean the keyboard with alcohol, not water. 😉

  3. Happy day!

    It makes me smile to see/read that you’re so excited to be back it. You can’t deny what drives you and you, dear Darc, are a writer.

    Aw, thank you sweetie. I appreciate it. While I wish it were new fiction I could share, re-working the old stuff has me pretty excited right now. 🙂 I’m glad you’ve been willing to follow along for the ride. Thank you.

    • Being so excited, will make it great. The best things are backed with passion.

      Time will show! 🙂 But passion isn’t something I lack for this, that’s for sure!

  4. Just….thrilled! 🙂 Thankful for blessings that pour over all of us.

    Aw, thanks Jaymie. 🙂 I’m grateful for all the encouragement folks like you give me. 🙂

  5. I’m glad to see you appearing to enjoy the process again.

    Thanks, Bryce. For the moment it’s pretty joyful. We’ll see how that holds up. 🙂

  6. That’s so cool! I love the editing process. It’s so satisfying to clean and tighten everything up. Good for you!

    Thanks! Yeah, it’s been pretty fun to watch the manuscript lose weight. All that flab going off … now, if I can just do that with my BODY. Heh.

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