Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Time for Revisioning

Yes, I know the correct word is "revising," but if a mere political figure can make messes like "refudiation," surely there's room for a linguist-in-training to have a little fun?  Besides, it's hardly the first time; remember "describiness"?  I figure that if I keep this up one of these days I'll get a call from a descendant of Noah Webster, either to congratulate me for an award I'm receiving for the cutting-edge and brilliant modernifications I'm making to the language, or to curse me out quite thoroughly.  It'll probably be the latter, but either way I'll be talking to a relative of a great man.

"I...urge you to try to enjoy the time you have away from the manuscript," she said, she in this case being my wonderful editor.  She's said a lot of really wise things to me so far, and this one is eligible for the same description, but I ain't doin' it.  I tried this weekend.  I didn't touch any of the three manuscripts I'm working on all the way from Friday through Sunday.  Instead, I spent some time with friends, and I also--I'm proud of this one--learned to Twit.  At least, that's what I'd call it.  Everybody else calls it tweeting, but the service is called Twitter, dammit.  If it were Tweeter, it would be tweeting, but it's Twitter.  Twitter, twitting, to twit.  Makes sense to me, anyway. 

*sigh* Who makes up these language rules? 

Anyway, in my efforts I learned a lot.  I found a couple dozen agents' blogs and sites, and "followed" most of the blogs I came across, which is a fancy techie way of saying that I asked for notification when new blog posts were published.  Hopefully many of you have followed or will follow my blog.  Since then I've learned that agents as a group don't blog frequently, but that's not one of the lessons I'm talking about.  There are a lot of agents out there, and every single one of them has a different service and a different process for approaching them.  The (very small) part of me who thinks tin foil hats are useful wonders if there's a touch of collusion out there, keeping us would-be authors from mass-contacting agents.  After reading some of their blogs, though, I think that any collusive cabal of literary agents would have long ago given up in disgust.  Many authors are wonderfully intelligent and thoughtful people, but apparently many are...well, not.  Ah, well.  I did, at least, take in a lot of examples of what to do, as well as quite a few examples of what not to do.  Hopefully some day you'll read a post here where I say that I followed an example of what to do, and signed an agent as a result.

Also found a post that listed the going "max length" for various genres of newbie novels.  If I accept the post as credible, which I'm tempted to do, my two works of 76K and 88K are right smack in the correct length range. That's good to know, especially since I was in such a quandary over whether I should smack the two novels together into one 165K word beast that, as the agent put it, would be "too damn long."  Beautiful phrasing, that. 

While I was at it, twittering away, I figured out what those hash marks (#) are for.  I was even able to join a discussion group Sunday night, #askagent.  It was wonderful, with @literaticat and @RedSofaLiterary (see, I told you I was learning how to do this stuff) responding to both good questions and stupid questions.

Yeah, I know that we educators have been telling people for decades that "there's no such thing as a dumb question."  But there is an Easter Bunny, right?  Anyway, the little white lie we tell in class sounds better than "we'd rather have you ask dumb questions than just sit there, mutely resembling a bunch of tree stumps."  The math review class I taught last night, in fact, was one of those.  I told every math joke I know--yes, both of them!--and then proceeded to quietly pray that one of them might answer a question, or ask one, or crack a smile, or anything else that might prove she still had a pulse.  "Now, come on, class.  Remember, there's no such thing as a dumb question! *cheesy teachergrin*"

That was one of the reasons I got home in a bad mood.  There were others.  They're pretty much irrelevant to the topic of this blog, but they were there, and so by the time I sat at my computer I was in very much the same mood that Crystal is in the first scene in Book 2.  If I had the power, in fact, I'd've melted a pretty flower, too.  But I had a good beer to drink, and I had a CD filled with Mozart's compositions, and I had a scene on the computer that needed revisioning, so I ended up eventually relaxing into a happier state.

It gets in the blood.  The writing, that is, but that's not all.  I love the process of spinning a tale through prose on the page, and I also love the process of going back after and making the prose tighter, more flowing, and clearer.  At the same time, though, I've really come to like Crystal and Matt and the rest of the folks in the book.  I understand, now, what JK Rowling was talking about when she spoke of missing Harry and the crew.  You spend a few months, or in her case (7 books!) years, in the heads of all these wonderful characters you've breathed into existence out of the firing of your own neurons, and it's difficult to be away from them for long.

So...all that said, I hope my editor can forgive my inability to follow her urging.  Or maybe not.  I am enjoying the time away from the first manuscript, after all...by diving into the second.  Time for more revisioning, indeed!

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