Monday, November 29, 2010

Separating the darlings from the voice

I made some decisions in my writing this week. They had to do with sentences that have either struck me or my critique group members as being too much.

Kill those darlings.


Don't get rid of the very distinctiveness that is your voice.

How do I make such decisions?

By following my gut, that's how.

I ended up keeping one of the sentences and deleting a few others. The one that I kept occupies an important position. It is the second sentence of the opening chapter. To me, its over-the-top sentiment sets the tone for the protagonist. It tells us not only about the character of this 12-year old girl, but also the things that matter to her.

The ones that I took out fall into the category of being "too clever by half." No matter how much I try to convince myself of things that I don't really buy, there is always that honest, stable part of me that will call b.s. every time. Learning to pay attention and recognize that call has been one of the most valuable things I have learned over the last few years of writing.

Who knows. Maybe my deleted darlings should see the light of day, and the sentence I've kept will turn away readers. But until I find a more fool-proof way of making these decisions, my gut is all I got.

What about you/ Does your gut call the shots as well? And how long does it call before your hear?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Follow up to the hiatus

Thanks for the good wishes for my blog hiatus. I thought I'd provide an update.

I finally completed the revision of my MG novel and sent it off. There was so much energy from the high of having completed an important task, I thought it would carry me to my new task, which was to work on my WIP, a YA novel.

But I couldn't write. There were too many thoughts, all going at high speeds heading toward different directions, in my mind. Scattered, cluttered, over-energized. The only way to calm down, I found, was to read.

I picked up three books, all different from one another, and from what I tend to write: The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, The Discomfort Zone by Jonathan Frazen, and Oryx and Crake by Margaret Attwood.

When I went back to my WIP a few days ago, my mind was relaxed and refreshed, and I was able to see how I needed to proceed.

And now, I seem to have found a flow for working on this book that I don't want to let go. Blogging has to take a back seat yet again.

I wish I could write and blog and live as a member of my family in a balanced way but I am apparently wired to focus on only very few things at a time.

I will see you all, if you're still around, when I next surface from my writing.