I'm reading The Artful Edit by Susan Bell, and since I haven't read a book on writing for a while and hope to savor this one slowly, I'd like to discuss it over time rather than cover it just once in a review. I've also heard mixed reviews about this book's originality and helpfulness, so I guess on this blog I'll be forming my opinions about all of that "in public," with the help of feedback from others. I hope you'll enjoy coming along for the ride. I'll try to post questions for your reaction. Please jump in and discuss!
First -- it's quite possible I should now be reading a book called The Artful First Draft, since that's what I'm currently writing. One of my biggest problems with my own process, which I've only partially wrestled into submission, is that Editor Me starts to horn in too early in a book's life, when Writer Me should rule. Editor Me loves to pick at words, and Editor Me realizes that my wordsmith gifts exceed my storytelling gifts. Editor Me also keeps one eye on the calendar, knowing that in X number of days or weeks I'm going to have to submit something coherent to one or the other of my critique groups. Critiquing, of course, brings yet more evaluation to a new work too early. (Yet it also brings me gems of advice that I truly want, even early on, maybe especially early on.) This fact of too-early criticism has at times ground me to a halt, and I feel like that muppet character who kept screaming, "I'll never get it! Never, never, never!" and banging his head on the piano. If I ever get to a point where I'm bringing "seasoned" work to critique while incubating and forming brand-new stuff "in the womb," as it were, and only there, that will be great. But unless I quit subbing chapters to my crit partners for a year, I'm not sure how to get to that place. All of my work is either brand-new or published, there's nothing in between! Anybody else have trouble with this? Have you figured a way to handle it?
Part of the difficulty with Editor Me and Writer Me is that Editor Me works best when the rest of my life feels too busy, when I know I might get pulled out of the work at any time, mentally, physically, or both. For the last seven (seven!) years -- since I became a member of the sandwich generation in earnest -- my heart, soul, mind, spirit, the part of me that writes -- has been skittish about sinking down into my fictional world and letting me really explore and take it slow. So I let Editor Me rule and call it progress. I need to find ways to let Writer Me know it's okay to live my MC's life, delve below the surface, forget the real world for a while, stay so in tune with the small changes in my MC's emotions that I find I know what she will do next and really can plot after all, and that hopefully everything is motivated and true. Or, as Ms. Bell states in The Artful Edit, I'd like to discover "an as yet unmapped route to a particular emotion or thought."
That's my goal for this fall, to allow Writer Me in the driver's seat where she currently belongs and let the cost be what it may. How are your Editor Me and Writer Me getting along or sharing the work these days? Do you have specific goals for fall?