Friday, November 30, 2007

Making a Literary Life Friday: Emendate

Amend. Emend. Edit. Correct. Improve. Right. Change. Recast. Rehash. Revamp. All are synonyms for revise, an important word around here at the Writers' Group. We're all doing it. A mention of the word sends some of us into paroxysms, for others, jollity. For all, though, it is a time of revelation. Each of us discovers themes our subconscious planted months before. With the advantage of time and fresh eyes, we're able to see them, explore them fully -- A-ha! That's true of writing, though isn't it? The act reveals layers of ourselves we may not have been fully aware of, calling to the surface aspects we may never have chosen to acknowledge or characteristics we'd always hoped to have for ourselves. What about you?

Months ago I was blessed to get a call from a well known, very experienced agent in NYC who said those magic words: "I finished reading Little Boy Hiding, and I like it, I like it a lot. I want to represent you as a writer." Well, he shopped it to a handful of editors, each of whom had positive feedback about the quality of writing, but they had the same criticism too: My main character is telling someone else's story, not her own. Huh?

I have work to do. Though I am finishing my current YA WIP, February 1st, I'm back to Little Boy Hiding (which isn't even called Little Boy Hiding anymore). Oh, how the plot has changed. The character's love for her younger autistic brother prompts her to take risks that, well, enough said, but it's her story now. Funny thing is that I thank God that novel didn't sell when it was shopped around a few months back. Really! It's night and day. Ah, revision!

Growing up, I used to procrastinate something terrible. School assignments, chores, later bills and social engagements. Oh, the stress! It caused more anxiety attacks this bad habit of mine -- in me and others. I was discussing this with my daughter the other day, she said she disliked that about herself, that she put off those things she doesn't enjoy doing (honestly, I don't see it, but she is a perfectionist). That's when I realized I no longer procrastinate anything. With all of the demands of me over the past years, it was imperative that I manage my schedule so as to allow time to write. It's that crucial, I was able to free the albatross I'd strung myself with. Now that I'm deep within revisions, I'm tickled to realize there's no anxiety. I will meet deadline, this aspect of the writing process I dread so much, I've managed because I love writing. What a revelation.

The Group gave me edits last week, and I was pleased. Go ahead, give us more, they said. The basics are in place, now give us the depth. Ideas that had floated but were held back -- will it be too much? am I complicating things unnecessarily? -- settled like snowflakes into place. One small thing to work out and I'm chugging along again. Then... !

I read and reread the new scenes I added to my novel. Last night I hit send! Though I didn't have significant edits in terms of work, the edits I made had a significant impact on the pacing and tension of my ending. A good editor is a treasure!

In other news, my editor for Negotiation Generation shared good news with me this week. Penguin will go back to press for a second printing of my parenting book! I am beyond thrilled. And if you live in the Boston area, come join me this Sunday for a book talk and signing at the wonderful Newtonville Books at 2 pm.


Carleen Brice said...

Congrats to all on your revelations! I do like revising so much more than writing.

Lynne, Double congrats on the 2nd printing!

Sustenance Scout said...

Ditto to all of you. Lynne, TERRIFIC news!! Lisa, thanks so much for the glimpse into the evolution of your book. Can't wait to read it! K.

Lynne Reeves Griffin said...

Thanks Carleen and Sustenance Scout! Getting the news was the highlight of my week. I so want parents to honor their role in shaping children's character--I hope my book shows them it doesn't have to be so hard.

Thanks again, the support you offer is so sincere.


Lisa Marnell said...

Thanks Sustenance Scout - now I just have to keep plugging as we all do.

Lynne, great news on Negotiation Generation! If you ever need a cheerleader, sign me up. Not only does your proactive parenting advice work on my own typically developing kids, but I have shared your book and your philosophy with teachers of children with autism at my school - it has led to big improvements in their behaviors.
With a child with autism, perhaps even more than typical kids, if you can predict it, you can prevent it. And often, these kids are very predictable given their likes, dislikes, and sensory profiles.

Lynne Reeves Griffin said...

Thanks so much Lisa. I whole-heartedly agree that the approach works with all children. And for children with unique needs it is even more important to be skill-builders and of course all children need care givers to be proactive. Thanks for spreading the word, dear friend.