Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Get Me Rewrite


I’m somewhat settled into my new place—there’s still stuff to do, but mostly the hurly burly is done, the Ikea battle is lost and won. My little boy knows nothing about the metaphorical significance of a do-it-yourself big boy bed, but he does know it has space stuff all over it. I had to get settled as quickly as possible—I’m getting the editorial letter on the final draft of my book in the next couple of days, and it needs to be hurly-burlied in two weeks. I’m hoping the edits are manageable—tighten here, bring this out here, stop being so damned abstruse here. Manageable would be nice. Though there’s nothing wrong with a little abstruseness, here and there.

I remember starting this book in January. I had, as I always do—just the barest strokes of ideas—“The Snow Queen,” growing up and stuff, a girl who loses her best friend to the ice and snow and would go to any length to save him. It was going to be about how you lose friends as you grow up, but in this case someone’s going to go get her friend back. I thought that was beautiful. I had main characters that I knew a couple things about. I had ideas of the things that might happen, the things I might be saying. I had things, you see—and we need things, sometimes, to get us through the days. I plunged in. I wrote the book. I was wrong about my things. The story, you see, tells itself, and cares not a whit for your things. I thought it would end happily ever after, but I learned that in order to save someone sometimes you have to lose them.

It is not unlike this new life I am starting. I had broad strokes of ideas about the main character—a single mom who lives in Minneapolis and supports her child by writing and teaching. She drinks more beer than I expected. I had some idea of who the secondary characters would be, but you never know who is going to show up in your house to wield an allen wrench. I thought I had some plot elements, some ideas of what I was trying to say. I had things, and we need things, sometimes. But the universe has already shown it does not give a whit for my things. There’s no room for revisions, no brilliant editor to give me twenty-one pages of single-spaced guidance. I should be used to it, though, because this is the way I write—I plunge in. For better or for worse.

8 comments:

  1. Anne, your place looks so pretty and writerly--even the big-boy bed. I bet you'll create amazing things there.

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  2. New digs equal new perspectives and new ideas, right? Yours are sure to be lovely in this great space. Although I am sad to hear about the ending of your latest. :(
    -Georgia

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  3. Good luck in your new life! I love Ikea and want to move into Dash's room.

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  4. Taking a new life path, much like writing, requires plunging into the dark of the Unknown Woods. But you have tools, and friends, and skills that will serve you well in both the revision and the new chapter in your life. Take heart. Hold the lantern tight and high as you peer into the shadows. Flickers of light will appear where you least expect them.

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  5. Do your heaters hiss and pop? Probably you don't have them on yet. But that will be a delightful rhythm to write to this winter. For that next book about all those next things.

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  6. Pretty! I want sea-green walls too!

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  7. Are you near the old neighborhood? There is great fodder for theme and plot on those streets that were once full of parents, single and couples, and if memory serves me correctly, somewhere near 100 kids.

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  8. You make me want to live in Minneapolis too so I can show up on your doorstep with some Fat Tire and a box full of tools we can't name. You are amazing.

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