Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Frustrating and Fascinating

This is one of those days when we all cannibalize each other's blogs. But it's a good topic.

Revision. Or as Jenny says, re-vision. Looking at your work in a new way. It sucks. It revitalizes. It hurts. It inspires. It's both frustrating and fascinating.

Another Jenny comment was that we have to write the stuff that needs to be cut later. I found that helpful now that I'm about a third of the way through MMG rewrites. I'm slashing and hacking, and adding and tweaking. And all the while thinking "Why didn't I realize that I didn't need this crap?" But I did need it. I needed to write those words because they were what led to the words that I'm keeping. If it hadn't been for the 15-page funeral scene that was cut, I wouldn't have the cleaning out the house scene which stayed. If I hadn't written Thanksgiving (cut), I wouldn't have done Christmas (stays).

The good part of a critique group, especially one as thorough, talented and honest as CWC, is that you find out what didn't work and what did. The bad part is that you tend to hear the same things 4-5 times. And it starts to feel like water torture. Just that drip drip drip of what was wrong--because none of us are egotists so we tend to gloss over the what worked part. Which can turn into the feeling that nothing worked. But in Ali's case--as in all the stories that have been submitted so far--only a tiny portion of the whole didn't work.

What I'm going to take away from this discussion is the re-visioning of revision. Look at MMG with new eyes (because, frankly, the old ones were getting pretty tired of the story and that can be death to the process).

And, Ali, do ignore Juan.