Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Dear Charlie:

Well, after that binding statement I made yesterday about finishing the ol' trilogy by Christmas, I made huge strides in my editing. I plowed through 30+ pages last night, trimming and tweaking, hacking and grafting. I'm extremely pleased with the results thus far. I think it reads better than ever, and I don't think I'll have heart palpitations when it comes time to query an agent.

I think this will be my best work, and I won't feel whonky sending out this finished product.

Yes. It's that much better.

And, once again, it's thanks in large part to my beloved sister. She's such an incredibly good example in so many ways. In this case, she proved to me that nothing is sacred, and that has unleashed a good portion of my innate editing ruthlessness on my own work.

You see, I felt the first draft of her first novel was sacrosanct. It should not be touched, other than to correct typos. It was beautiful in every way and should have immediately been published. *grin* I still feel that way.

So, imagine my dismay when she basically said, "I can do better" and tore it apart, rewriting it from the beginning.

NOOO! I wailed against the unfairness of it all. The story was beautiful! It was thrilling and gripping and sweet and dangerous and perfect in every way! Why tamper with perfection?

But, after reading a single chapter of the new, improved version, I bit my tongue and learned a lesson.

Yes, the story was beautiful and all those lovely adjectives I used before. Now, however, it was BETTER. Impossible, you say? Not so. Her new version is simply better. I didn't believe it before I read it, but I can't ignore what's right in front of me. It's not in my nature.

So, the lesson learned, I looked at my own work. My spirit quailed within me. Did I need to completely rewrite, too? I love my characters! Had I done them a disservice? Why even bother if, when I finished the rewrite, I might need to do yet another?

Oh, the despair! Oh, the weeping and wailing!

Oh, the melodrama.

Wading steadily into this cruelly deep edit, I can categorically say I am NOT rewriting, nor is such an all-encompassing upheaval necessary. My story is in a different genre from hers, so I have more lenience with some things than she does. Plus, thanks to my naturally smart mouth and my bizarre tendency to write like I talk, the story is damn funny, and it'll never be wholly serious, so I can get away with a little more, there.

It still needs a lot of work, of course, but that's okay. The original product is no longer sacred.

I can simply cut out a sentence, a paragraph, an entire page without thinking I'm losing something holy. I can add to what's there to better describe, to better show what's happening around my characters. I can do them and their story justice now without worrying about destroying the purity of the text.

Purity, schmurity.

If a complete rewrite does my sister's heart and manuscript that much good, a hard tweaking can only do the same, even if it changes the subtle flow of the story I've told. Even if it makes some of those aforementioned smart-ass comments a little more serious or a serious comment a little more tongue-in-cheek.

So, the second draft is coming along nicely, and all thanks to the knowledge that nothing is absolute. The story is already written (except for most of Book 3, of course), but it's not set in stone. I will polish it until it shines, and when it sparkles so brightly it's almost blinding, I'll show it proudly to an agent and see what happens.

Mayhap I'll show it to a dozen agents, a score of agents, a HUNDRED agents before finding one who thinks he/she can sell that shine, but I won't be so damn wussy about sending it off to them. I'm disgusted with my cowardice, and I'm done with it. I will find my balls, wherever they ran off to, and remember that, while I am no warrior, I can at least behave like one.

After all, what's the worst they can say? No? It sucks? What the hell were you thinking, you pathetic idiot? *shrug*

Bring it on.

I had an older brother, and he said worse before he got out of bed in the morning! I can take it.


At 12:35 PM, Blogger Joely Sue Burkhart said...

So....Does Molly have balls?

At 12:42 PM, Blogger Joely Sue Burkhart said...

*wiping tears away*

You are the best sister! I mean it. For unquestionably loving my first crappy version and prodding me to keep writing. I know you'll argue but the first version was amateurish at best. I've said this before, but everybody had a POV--including the GENERIC CROWD. I swapped POV at will, especially in those lovely smut scenes. I narrated when I didn't know how to tie things together. I told a lot of information instead of showing through action and consequences. I didn't have a clue where I was going or what I was doing.

Some of these things have improved in the rewrite (yes, mine IS a rewrite, not just a tweaking). I'm hacking and pasting with a ruthless determination to use the things I've learned in the last six months to make this story the best I possibly can. Is it perfect? Hell no, it'll never be perfect. But I can make it better. I can make those fragile moments of Spark flare a bit brighter.

I'm so excited as we skip singing loudly down The Road! Check out Jane's post today and Michelle's comment. That's how I feel about you and me, Sis. You, too, Lizard Queen!! Whether we get published or not, whether the money ever comes or not, I'll always enjoy writing because of how WE talk and work together. This is my bliss.

At 1:05 PM, Blogger The Lizard Queen said...

Meeting all of you has been, truly, one of the best things about this whole writing biz.


Because I don't feel like I'm going crazy because I dream about my characters, I don't feel like I'm some certifiable nutcase because I mutter dialogue to myself while driving, I don't feel like there's something wrong with me because I'd rather work on my novel or short story than have something to discuss the next day at work because, instead of watching the latest reality show dreck, I was writing.

Thanks, guys, for letting me know I may not be normal, but I'm certainly not alone. *grin*

At 1:08 PM, Blogger GutterBall said...

*grin* You've been watching Dharma & Greg again, haven't you?

I can honestly say, Sis, that I couldn't do this without you. Oh, I could put the words on the page, but I WOULDN'T have, nor would I have known what to do with them in the unlikely event I got them all out.

YOU did the research. YOU stuck your toe into the Great Lake of Publishing by sending off short stories. YOU studied the various markets and contests and agents and found all the pertinent information about formatting the manuscript and writing query letters and plotting synopses. YOU did all of that, and you gleefully shared it with me, never doubting that I would need that information at some point.

YOU encouraged and inspired, providing rock-solid support so strong and unconditional that it's almost heart-rending.

YOU put me in touch with the Dream Weavers, the myriad posts of which helped me hone my basic talent into a skill that might actually get me published someday. Thanks to you, I know the adored Lizard Queen, from whom I also gain support and encouragement, enlightenment and inspiration.

You are the best sister ever brought forth upon this planet, and I don't call you "my beloved sister" lightly. After all, while I love Toby to pieces, you don't hear me calling him "my beloved brother", do you? *grin*

I may well have finished a "novel" first -- if you can call a dictionary-sized fanfiction a novel -- but you took the bit between your teeth and ran with it, showing me the way and leading me on toward victory.

I'll follow you anywhere, Sis, but it's my highest honor to walk beside you like this.

At 1:09 PM, Blogger GutterBall said...

And your first version was NOT crappy!

At 1:15 PM, Blogger GutterBall said...

And to the adored Lizard Queen....

You, my dear, are Wonderful incarnate. Not only for founding Dream Weavers, which was exactly what so many of us needed at that exact time, but for befriending us and lending us your unwavering support.

Many's the day when I couldn't think of a single original, unique way of putting anything. Then, I'd check my e-mail, and there was the Lizard Queen, saying something outrageous or thought-provoking or smutty or touching or hilarious. You always brought out the nutty side of me, Lizard Queen, and while that wasn't always a good thing -- I remember a certain world anal-raping discussion that got WELL out of hand -- it was always...instructive....

I hold you in the highest esteem, adored Lizard Queen. You are on a pedestal above all others -- except my beloved sister, as she is also incomparable -- and I look forward to coming to your first book-signing, clutching that matchless hardback to my chest and waiting impatiently for the Revered One to sign my humble copy.

*grin* And I expect you to write something in that penned dedication about that aforementioned world anal-raping comment. I want it preserved on my copy of your first book for all eternity!

At 4:18 PM, Blogger The Lizard Queen said...

You are not going to leave that anal-rape thing alone are you!! Argh, will I never be free of it!

*shaking my fist a la Scarlett O'Hara at the burnt-orange sky*


But, really, thinks so much for your kind words. Truly, I don't deserve them. I'm a horrible, terrible, crabby, bitchy old crone who'd be better off joining the rest of the drones and watching Oprah or somethin' instead of trying to do something as ridiculous as becoming a writer. Especially at this late date.

But, again, I thank you. I'm sorry that Dreamweavers didn't last any longer than summer, but it was fun while it lasted and this blog thingy is rather nice. We're still keeping in touch and that's what's important.

Yes, we will have to have one of those joint author signings at some convention when our books are all finally published; sci-fi convention, romance, whatever.

As long as we're all there, signing our books, winking at each other for having finally pulled it off and pinching the round, taut butts of whatever delicious hunk happens to bump up against the table.

At 5:20 PM, Blogger GutterBall said...

Oh, you are not a miserable, crabby old bitch! And if you are, you pull it off with such panache that I don't notice!

Dream Weavers was wonderful, but it served its purpose. It was exactly what we all needed at the time, but I like to think we grew beyond our need for it. I'm not terribly distraught that it's gone now, mainly because I still get to blab with you guys here and over regular e-mail.

Oooh, let's all swear to that one! When we all get published, we'll have a group signing, all three of us shamelessly ogling the hunks and joking about which hot delivery man we deserve for finally living our dreams and signing ridiculous things to our poor, unsuspecting fans' copies. That sounds like a RIOT!

I pick Luther Reigns off WWE Smackdown. *drool* He's not Riddick, but then again, no one is. *grin*

At 7:07 PM, Blogger Joely Sue Burkhart said...

I agree! A group signing and lots of pinching and ogling sounds wonderful! Kevin Sorbo can be my wondrous delivery man as long as he grows his hair back. Otherwise I think I'll take Riddick. He's certainly inspired a lot of sci-fi for me lately....

I love you both. Maybe we can make a preliminary meeting in St. Louis next summer at the RT convention?? Even if we can't afford a full conference, we could still meet you somewhere in St. Louis. Assuming we can find someone to drive us there. Molly and I don't do freeways much. Yes, we live in the sticks.

At 10:03 PM, Blogger The Lizard Queen said...

Sounds like a plan regarding St. Louis. I'm saving my pennies, nickels and dimes and Jackie is supposed to be driving the van, so look for me there somewhere. *grin*

At 4:10 PM, Blogger Devgel Zo said...

Okay, I know this is an old post but I feel it necessary to add my three point two cents here.

Most people don't know this, but I was once (and still am) a ghastly fanfic writer. GB stumbled across my admittedly shoddy work some distant day in June 2004. She liked it (God alone, in all His genius, knows why) and we struck up a editor-protege relationship.

Amen that we did, otherwise I would have dropped out of the game.

I was going to finish that story and leave fanfiction, perhaps fiction altogether forever. I was shoddy, I was lazy, I had no idea of POVs and character building. But she saw something (again, Enma knows what) and made me try again. And again, dammit, until I got it right. I might never have given myself up so wholly to this craft and gone mad eventually if it weren't for our favourite bad bowler.

I'm still not hot-stuff. I still cringe when I read my own drivel. I've whined and fought while the muses abandoned me and have always seen the gap between me and every good writer a thousand years away. If I lived fifteen lifetimes, I'd still never catch up.

But that's okay.

I love to write. I may not be good at it and I may still rely a little too heavily on positive criticism but the fact of the matter is that I didn't give up.

GB has been a major driving force behind my growth as a writer. I've gone from 'nigh unreadable' to 'tolerable'. She inspires many and is always willing to learn new tricks. She's amazing in every regard both inside and outside writing. I consider myself extremely blessed to have met the anonymous reviewer who came up with the most original ways to kill unpopular characters.

GB, I salute you from the tip of Africa and the centre of my heart. For your patience with a stumbling little writer and helping her get better. Maybe, maybe, maybe I'll get one of my satrical pieces out.

And I know who I'll send the first acceptance letter to.


You rock, GB.


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