Monday, March 29, 2010

SUBLIMINAL MONDAY: "The End" is just The Beginning

When writing, do you trust yourself to make the right decisions or do you bypass your instincts for the more "reasonable" solution? Do you question your character's motives or worry about where the plot is headed? [NEWS FLASH: Your characters can only do/say/think what you tell them. They're not real. Sorry, I'm just the messenger.] Do you change things in your wip because of something a crit partner says, even if you don't fully agree?

One of the best things you can do as a writer is trust your instincts. Keep your fingers typing. and trust your muse to push you forward. [There's no such thing as a muse. It's imaginary. Again, just the messenger.] But remember, the finished draft is nothing more than a place to start, a jumping off point, an extremely rough sketch. [Think five-year old with crayons.]

As incredible as it is to "birth" a story, the more amazing part - and where the real work begins - is immediately after typing, "The End." In other words, the end is just the beginning. [So, what's really the point? Like so totally existential, dude!]

When we complete our first draft, we feel a sense of well-earned euphoria. [Legal, drug-free high = SCORE!] After that accomplishment, the [dark, dismal] reality known as editing begins. The carefree rush of getting [pretty much any] words down on paper is replaced with the deliberate anguish of dissecting every letter of every word on every page. This is where the deeper writing begins; where your seasoned skills come into play. [Don't be shy. You know you've got 'em.]

This is all well and good, except for people like me who are impatient, perfectionist, control freaks. I want everything done perfectly yesterday. [Hmm, wonder why I'm never satisfied...] Unfortunately, the publishing biz is known for moving at a very tired snail's pace. Fortunately, I've mellowed a lot with age, and now enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Crafting words as perfectly as I can is fun, challenging, and satisfying. [This is one example of the BS I tell myself when inches away from pulling my hair out by its [graying] roots.] Yes that was a SM within a SM. Pretty cool, huh? No? Oh, well, never mind, then.

So, next time you write, "The End" know you've really just reached the beginning. Writing is a never-ending roller coaster ride. Pat yourself on the back, take a day or two off, and get your butt back in that chair. [Insert sound of whip cracking.] Trust your instincts and let your passion guide you and your talent explode on the pages. [Don't worry about the mess. Writing should always be a bit messy, or at least seem that way. If you don't know what I mean, ask your muse. ;-)]

Painting is called, Kiss of the Muse or The Dream of the Poet by Paul Cezanne
painted 1859-1860.

45 comments:

Lisa K. said...

Very insightful words, Debra. I'm a messy writer. Most of my novels have been written in the NaNoWriMo novel in a month style so they all require a huge amount of rethinking and revision in the editing phase. But that joy of things falling into place during that phase is one of the best feelings, and well worth all the work.

Solvang Sherrie said...

I love the photo -- and the BS you tell yourself. It works, right?

Karen Walker said...

Love that painting, Debra. I'm having a very dysfunctional relationship with my muse right now. P.S. There's a little award waiting for you at my blog today.
Karen

Debra L. Schubert said...

Lisa, You're right - it is well worth the work. I'm in the thick of it right now and, for the most part, am enjoying myself. [No BS!] ;-)

Debra L. Schubert said...

Sherrie, The BS definitely works!

Sybir St. John said...

I do love your Monday posts. And, I'm learning the editing phase is far harder than getting the words down on page. I write the way Lisa K does...throw it all out there in 2-3 weeks and then go back and fight with every sentence.

I'm starting to enjoy that battle. I must be going crazy.

Debra L. Schubert said...

Karen, The muse/author relationship is a tricky one. I prefer relationships where I'm in control. [Hah!]

Thanks so much for the award! I'll pop on over to your blog right now. ;-)

Debra L. Schubert said...

Stacia, So glad you like the SM posts. Editing is a battle sometimes fo' sho'! But one well worth fighting. And, don't worry - you're not going crazy. [At least, I don't think you are.] ;-)

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I have the patience of a short-tempered gnat - but conversely, I don't mind the editing process. It's the time it takes to finish that first draft that drives me crazed. Editing is when I get to beat the beast into submission. Very satisfying.

nsiyer said...

Well written, Debrah. It reminds me reading your piece - 'It is the singer and not the song."

Debra L. Schubert said...

Elspeth, Editing is satisfying and not as terrifying as writing that first draft. The blank page staring back at you is like looking into the eyes of a serial killer. Or, it's like being in the presence of infinite possibility, depending on how you to look at it. ;-)

Debra L. Schubert said...

nsiyer, "It is the singer and not the song." Beautiful, as always. Thank you for that.

Christina Lee said...

Wonderfully said! I am up to my ears in revisions right now--and loving every minute of it. Okay I lied, but in it's own way, I do enjoy it more than the firt draft itself. You pat yourself on the back for getting the draft done(and down). And then you can twist and shape, and stand back and marvel how you've grown better at each turn!

Laura Marcella said...

Debra, I always look forward to your subliminal Monday posts! I laughed out loud at "I want everything done perfectly yesterday." So. Do. I! Good thing there's always now to try again and get it right. And even better that chocolate practically revises the manuscript for you. [Doesn't it? Yikes. Maybe I shouldn't eat this sixth Cadbury egg. But probably I should just in case.]

Tori [Book Faery] said...

Beautifully written! Very inspiring. I'm guilty of the perfectionist syndrome. It's crippled me for far too long already. I want that first draft perfect, otherwise it bugs me. Sad part is that the I acknowledge that this is crazy talk, but I still let it cripple me time and time again.

Debra L. Schubert said...

Christina, Yup. The first draft is soul-wrenching, and that's the good part. ;-))

Debra L. Schubert said...

Laura, I'm so glad you enjoy the SM posts. And, yes, you should definitely eat as many Cadbury eggs as possible. I'm almost positive this is the key to success in the publishing biz.

Debra L. Schubert said...

Tori, A first draft being perfect is like the Democrats and Republicans agreeing on something. It ain't ever gonna happen. [But a girl can dream, can't she?]

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I love the personality behind this post! Oh, and the message too, of course. :-)

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Debra, great post, but the creative in me screams-nooooo! lol. Still all very true words. I find it fun to have an inner editor and an inner creative and switch them out as needed. My motto is that there is nothing written that can't be rewritten. :) cheers~

Steph Damore said...

Yep, the first draft is only the bones of a story. It's the editing that creates the soul.

Kimberly Franklin said...

Your post made ne very happy today, because I too want everything to be perfect yesterday. I'm so impatient.

Another great SM Monday! I have to go.... my crazy "character" voices are calling for me again. ; )

Debra L. Schubert said...

Shannon, Thank you times two. ;-)

Debra L. Schubert said...

Nancy, Your motto is right on the money. I used to paste everything I cut out of a ms into an "Outtake" document. Not anymore. Now I slash and burn without blinking an eye. I think the more we write, the more we realize we can most likely write it better the next time around!

Debra L. Schubert said...

Steph, I could not have said it any better myself. [Seriously, I couldn't.] LOVE IT!!!

Debra L. Schubert said...

Kimberly, Listen closely to those voices - they're very important. [And don't forget to feed them CHOCOLATE!!]

Fragrant Liar said...

I lean to the perfectionist's quandary. I'd like to be messier, but it's HARD! So I keep trying to perfect my techniques for messiness.

jdcoughlin said...

The presence of infinite possibility. It is, isn't it? Even though it usually feels like that blank sheet of white is calling me names and shouting out all sorts of trash.
PS I am a mess. My writing, not so much. Very not-messy, not-me.

Jody Hedlund said...

You're hilarious, Debra! I love your posts! :-)

Debra L. Schubert said...

FL, "I keep trying to perfect my techniques for messiness." This is one of my favorite lines of all time. Thanks for that. ;-)

Debra L. Schubert said...

Judith, Yes, the blank page holds infinite possibilities. And, I've met you. You're so not messy. ;-)

Debra L. Schubert said...

Jody, If I'm entertaining you and making you laugh, then I'm definitely doing something right. ;-)

Sharon Mayhew said...

Great post! A story isn't finished until all the revisions and finished and it's published...

Debra L. Schubert said...

Sharon, Publication isn't everyone's dream, but for those of us who fit that category, I agree. Here's to our dreams coming true. [Cheers!]

Ruthanne Reid said...

Well, darnit - my comment isn't here! I'll repost. :D

This is really encouraging. You're so right! Instinct matters above all, and we HAVE to learn to listen to it.

Unless, of course, it's saying "quit oh no you can't write oh noooo!" But that's panic, not instinct. ;)

Murr Brewster said...

I'd like to be able to write "the End." And I will, just as soon as I figure out what happens in the middle. If anyone out there knows, shoot me a line.

Debra L. Schubert said...

Ruthanne, You're right - that "bad angel" is never instinct. It's laziness and self-pity scantily disguised as reason.

Have I mentioned how proud of you I am? ;-)

Debra L. Schubert said...

Murr, In the middle, someone falls in love, someone is trying to deceive them, the first person gets mad and lashes out at the wrong person, and things look very bleak. Then it all gets straightened out and you write, "The End." [You're welcome.]

Murr Brewster said...

Thanks, Debra! It's all so clear now!

Debra L. Schubert said...

Murr, ;-)

Tawna Fenske said...

Thank you for cracking that whip! But now that you've done so, I find my butt is too sore to sit in the chair. Do I get a free pass on writing for the day?

Didn't think so. Sigh.

Tawna

Jon Paul said...

This is great advice. I am also one of those people who wants it done perfectly, yesterday, so I can relate.

Thanks also for stopping by my place and becoming a follower. :)

Debra L. Schubert said...

Tawna, You SO do not get a pass! [Sorry about the whip. Sometimes I get a little carried away.]

Debra L. Schubert said...

Jon Paul, Patience has never been my virtue. It's nice to know I'm in good company. [And, you're welcome.;-)]

sanjeet said...

Love that painting,
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