Monday, August 18, 2008

Avoiding the Ending

Technically, my summer writer-in-residence experiment will end tomorrow. I return to work the following day. I have relished the opportunity to think about writing every day and to actually produce something most days. When work begins--and it will begin in high gear--I am too frantic at the beginning of the day and too drained at the end to be creative. It is a sad reality. Perhaps the coming year will be different. Perhaps I will be successful in guarding time for myself and in accomplishing things beyond the work agenda. Of course, those possibilities go along with my standard musing: perhaps I will have a clean work area.

There is another ending I am struggling with: the ending of my latest novel manuscript. I have reached the word limit for the publisher who has first right of refusal, but I wrote +5,000 more words in the last week and there is at least that much more required to tie things up. While I realize I have a brutal round of revising ahead of me before I will consider submitting the work, I wish one area of focus weren't about deleting words and scenes. Changing and adding are fine. Deleting is harsh. Words aren't like hair that will grow back--we hope--after a cut. When they're gone, they're gone. Adios. Adieu. See ya!

When I submitted Fouling Out, I had to delete 25,000 words...before the stage in which more revisions came while working with an editor. Faced with thousands of words to cut, numbers become a greater focus than the words. That is why it is so painful. It is not about creation; rather, destruction. Sure, there are the easy cuts to excise wordy sentences and unnecessary qualifiers like very and apparently. (I thank writing instructor Nancie Atwell for her list of "The Very Bad Words".) That will address hundreds, not thousands of words.

Of course, I am getting ahead of myself. The ending, while near, is not yet upon me. I have two days of summer writing to figure out how to conclude matters with Marshall Allen McGonigle and Mr. Thomas Spenser.

On to it!

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