Monday, December 5, 2011

Editing Me HATES Drafting Me

So, ONE is only my second project, which means I'm still really learning about my whole writing process.

When I wrote THE TRAVELERS I edited as I went. I didn't have to do that with ONE - I was generally really happy with the stuff I put on the screen. I like to think that's because, after the experience of writing a first manuscript, I understand things like character arcs, pacing, and plot better.

 I really, really thought it was because I was slowly slowly moving away from being a 100% reckless fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pantser, and toward having more-or-less fleshed out story lines and plot in the first draft.

I thought. Then I merrily went through the first draft to clean up passive voice, word repetition, etc and.....

A lot of chapters were ready to be polished, loved on, gushed over, lovingly shined up. I'd say 3/4 of them. And then, in  others, I had written Future Me sweet notes like, "Add more intrigue here," "Fill in this newspaper story," or, worst, "Finish this scene."

Excuse me, Past Me? FINISH THIS SCENE?????

But the worst - the WORST - is that the last four chapters seem to be little collections of scene-fragments that I thought Future Me would be absolutely freaking delighted to sift and sort through, and, of course, FINISH WRITING.

So, while Past Me was all gushing about the first draft being finished, Future Me was just waiting in the wings to read through the "first draft," then walk up to Past Me and do this:

Past Me, who do you think I am? An heiress whose choices for filling my day are: "Finish Writing Scenes" or "Get a Pedicure?" A Woman of Leisure? Are you freaking kidding me, Past Me?

I hate you. 

(But I do really appreciate that one really pretty scene you wrote. And the angsty convo between the MC and her mom. And, you know, the whole idea for ONE in general. Oh! And that one kiss. So, I guess, thanks. I might not claw your eyes out after all.)

What about you? Have you ever hated a Past Writing You?  Commiserate with me in the comments. 


  1. First off, that second clip looks like classic Jerry Springer to me. Classy!

    Second, are you kidding me? There are days when I hate past, present, AND future me.

    At least you don't stall yourself when you're stuck. "Finishing later" and moving on is probably a good idea - unlike me, who will stop and mull and mull and mull some more until I can finish the scene I started. Hence why it takes me for-freaking-ever to write a first draft, and you're already done!

  2. Do you watch Dance Moms on Lifetime? It's about a dance academy and the tough teacher (Abby) who trains young girls for a life in the pros. Even though Abby can border on abusive, she consistently states two things that I agree with. First, that whatever she throws at her students is preparing them for what will be thrown at them in the real world. More importantly, (and where it relates to you) is that the most important thing a young dancer needs to learn is how to self-correct. The fact that after such a brief amount of time in the writing game you are learning to self-correct, and can see the difference between your past writer self and your current writer self, shows what a natural talent you are. Keep at it, Leigh Ann! You're growing and great things will come your way!

    As for me, the most important thing I see between my past writer self and my current one, is patience. When I was starting out in the game, I so desperately wanted to get my work DONE and OUT THERE. Looking back on it, I realized I sent out a lot of stuff which just wasn't ready. Maybe it is the benefit of age, or learning to slow down from Chronic Illness, or practicing patience through Deployment AND rabbinical school, but the bottom line is... I don't feel the same rush to FINISH as I once did. If this current WIP takes two years to complete, then that is what it will have to be! Granted, I still have moments of "MUST FINISH NOW" but thankfully, I have good friends who remind me of my own wisdom. ;)

    That being said, you graduated rabbinical school! You can do anything you set your mind to! Mazel Tov on two completed drafts... whatever their state! And, looking forward to watching you grow... as well as seeing your first book in print!

  3. That is fantastic LOL. But yes, I can totally relate. In my previous manuscript, I couldn't figure out how to solve a problem so I skipped it completely, going ahead into the reveal of a major plot point with just a short note saying "they figure it out." Man, that was a pain to come back to lol.

  4. Yes, I do this all the time. Usually I leave scenes unfinished because I get stuck and feel like I have to know more about the story overall to continue. Which is not a bad strategy but it still sucks when you return and are like, "Oh yeah I didn't do XYZ!"

  5. I HATE past me. She's always making these notes and without any clear picture of what to do about them. Apparently, she thinks I'll be able to instantly come up with something later. Which almost never happens.

    Past me is a lazy pest.

  6. Great and funny post. I do like the Jerry Springer action going on with the two women.

    Hmm...I can't move on until I've conquered the scene. But I think the biggest thing for past me was patience as your friend said earlier. I rushed and didn't take my time. However, future me is still a panster but I'm careful with my work. Even though I get anxious about others getting agents and winning contests, I have to remember make sure it's done right.

  7. oh man, I do this all the tiiime. For my WiP now, I've done it while first drafting on my computer. Then I'll print it out, realize I still have a scene to fill in and just mark it down on the paper as FINISH. Then when I go back to revise on the computer I'm always tempter to be like "well, I'll just save it for the next revision..." When I'm editing, it's so hard for me to go back and start thinking about adding new scenes in that editing frame of mind. I have to build up to it or set out to do it on a specific day otherwise I'll keep putting it off. So I totally feel ya :)

  8. This post was absolutely hilarious... and oh so painfully true. What is it with those past selves?

  9. @Gina - I suppose I would hate myself just as much if I did I guess I hate myself either way...are we seeing a pattern here? Hmmm.

    @Jean - "seeing my first book in print" made me cry. Think I'll do it before I'm 40? #holdme

    @Lori - Bahahaha "they figure it out." Sounds like mine! (Sorry. Not funny. Nottt funny.)

    @Annalise - It's amazing how quickly we can forget what total slackers we were, isn't it? :)

    @JEFritz - SO happy to hear that! Sounds like our past selves were probably out getting pedicures together.

    @ladonna - I admire your patience and perspective, truly!

    @Stessa - Bahahaah "the next revision."

    @Jillian - I know. They're jerks.

    Thanks for your comments everyone! <3 you so much!!!

  10. eeeeeeep! I've always told myself that if I get stuck, I should just MOVE ON and write in those kinds of notes to myself. BUT I NEVER DO. so I always hate Present Me as I struggle through this or that, telling myself to MOVE ON, but I never really do.

    I haven't met Future Me in revision mode yet, but I'll tell you how she feels about Past Me when I get there ;)