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Welcome to my self-indulgent location for the stories (good and bad) that I can't prevent myself from writing. All comments and criticisms welcome. I post on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pain is Pleasure, Pleasure is Pain

There's a very fine line between pleasure and pain.  I frequently ask myself why on earth I would put myself through some of the things I do (*ehem* grad school *cough*), and I don't always come up with good answers.  For example, when it comes to grad school, I really love learning, and I love the puzzles that need to be worked out, but I HATE the hours upon hours (upon hours...) in the library, the fact that my evenings and weekends are never my own, and that I hardly get to visit my mom even though she only lives a couple of hours away. 

When I first started grad school, that pain WAS pleasure for me.  I think I'm too jaded now.  Lately it's just pain.

On the other hand, there's editing.  Can anyone out there tell me you've never wanted to pull out your hair or stab your pen into your MC's paper eyes (okay, maybe your reactions aren't so violent, but you know what I mean). 

*crickets*
I thought not.

But we all know, on the other side of the editing chasm, there's a beautiful result just waiting for us, and so we plug through.

As I'm working on revisions right now, I keep reminding myself of this—the end result will make it all worthwhile.  But I want it to be more than that.  I want to convert the pain of revisions into pleasure.  I want to learn how to enjoy the process more.  This clearly will not happen by, say, 7:30, but I think I can find the way.  Maybe I just need more practice :)


For you, does revising equal pleasure or pain, or something in between?  How do you keep yourself motivated though the process?  Any advice?

24 comments:

Elizabeth McKenzie said...

Seems like everyone is blogging about revision and editing. I would rather edit than fix what someone else has edited. The reason is, because of the time it takes to find the correction, and it never fails that you'll revise it anyway.

Keep with it and good luck.

RosieC said...

Elizabeth, that's an excellent point. Sometimes it is harder to work with other people's comments than your own, and frequently they're things you've already changed. Thanks!

Jan Morrison said...

er...ahem. I actually enjoy revisions. I think I've just learned this however. I think I didn't know what revisions were - how they are really the heart of writing especially when I write my first draft as if possessed by some weird spirit and it doesn't make as much sense as say...uh...a weird spirit might. The pain for me is always the same thing - it is the part of the plot that doesn't work and I know the beginning and I know the ending but there is this weird nowoman's land that I can't seem to penetrate. Anywhoozie when I relax and don't focus so much on the outcome I really really like the process.

Jemi Fraser said...

Revising big chunks is HARD. I find I try to avoid it :)

Editing on the other hand when I get to slash & tighten up words - love it! Weird, but there you go :)

Lynda Young said...

To stay motivated I ask myself again and again, "How much do I want this book to work? How much do I want to be proud of my writing?" And so I continue to edit because producing a quality novel/story is my greatest desire.

RosieC said...

Jan, I suppose someone out there has to enjoy revising :) You're definitely right about them being the heart of writing, and I also write like a demon possessed at times. I would much rather be able to take my time and focus on structure the first go-round, but it never works that way. I also agonize over the parts that don't work, but I'm learning I'm a "pantser" and try to follow it where it goes. As long as I can steer my characters back to the target ending, I'm happy (although I have one where that didn't happen, but it will probably also sit on the shelf or in the drawer forever)

RosieC said...

Jemi, unfortunately my revisions are massive. When I started writing WiP-1 I really didn't know what I was doing. But I love 2 and 3 too much to throw it to the dogs. There may be lots of frustration coming from me in the near future :)

I'm not sure about the tightening, though. Maybe you're right, that it's not so bad. It's much different, and in its own way a bit easier, I think (not to say it's easy, though!)

RosieC said...

Lynda, that's definitely where I am right now, but I feel like I'm sludging through mud. I severely want my novel to be great and amazing so I can dazzle agents and find a publisher. I really do. This is why I have to make the pain and the pleasure become one :)

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

I LOVE the editing part. That's when the work starts to take marketable shape and it gets me all excited. I can usually breeze through the editing a LOT faster than the writing. It can take me up to a year to churn out that first draft, but the editing I can do in one month.

RosieC said...

AA, that's really impressive. One month? There must be an inverse relationship there since the WiP that took me three months to churn out will probably take close to a year for edits :)

Al said...

I find revision fun because I make the story better. Yet I hate the nuts and bolts side of editing (because I am really bad at deciding where that comma should go).

Hart Johnson said...

I think it is a truly freaky person who both loves writing and editing. I don't mind editing OTHER people's stuff much (depending on what kind of editing) but with my own work it is so completely miserable!

And I think grad school got BETTER for me the 2nd year, because all my required stuff was done and I just got to take the classes I chose... I intentionally set it up that way though--always have--do the crummy part first, then have just the fun left. Sadly, getting a book ready can't be done in that order.

RosieC said...

Al, I should remember that. Thanks. The copy-editing part isn't always that bad for me, but I do that freelance for a journal already (which should probably make me not like it, but, hey...)

Hart, thank you. I was beginning to think I might be alone here :) Unfortunately, this summer commemorates my 6th (AH!) year of grad school. I just need to be done!

Erica Woolridge said...

One of the biggest things I learnt from completing my first MS is that I hate editing/revisions. They suck. Bad. It's currently with CPs getting its butt kicked.

So with the book I'm currently writing, I started it kind of backwards. I summed up my book/pitch in a paragraph and tightened it until I could look at it and think "I would read this." So now, when I get discouraged or lose focus, I read my handy little paragraph. It's oddly motivating to reread why I started this book in the first place ... and to see its potential.

And I was stoked to see you're a Linguist! Linguistics was my first love (my undergrad:)

RosieC said...

Always wonderful to meet a fellow linguist (since we're such an odd bunch, anyway :) Thanks for coming over.

I really like how you write the pitch first. That's an excellent idea, and a great way to keep yourself motivated. I'll have to try that (if I can stopping pantsing and start planning :)

T.S. Bazelli said...

I'm one of those freaks that enjoys editing. I look at it as polishing the story to its true potential, to finally telling the story in the best way possible. Good luck with your revisions! You'll get through them!

RosieC said...

For the record, I never used the word "freak". While I really want to tell the best story possible, it still feels like a struggle. Thanks for the encouragement! :)

Cruella Collett said...

Grad school. Pain! WHY? Don't know. Blergh! (I'm not the right person to talk to about this right now. Ask me again in ten years, and I'll tell you it was the time of my life)

Edits. Pain? Meh... Not yet ;)

RosieC said...

Cruella, I don't even think in 10 years I'm going to look back with joy. Sad, but true. I hope you can, though!

Not yet because you haven't gotten there on a certain WiP, or not yet because editing your fiction is a million light years better than editing your masters thesis? :)

Sangu said...

Both, definitely. It's so much fun to dive into your draft and start tackling it and see it begin to shine, but it's also agonizing to cut scenes you love, or wade through drivel and rewrite it, or just read and read and reread the same pages a thousand times!

RosieC said...

Oh, Sangu, it's so true. I'm currently working on a chapter that will soon require too much chopping. I loved it before, it had enough tension but also enough characterization, but then I had to add other things to it, and it seemed like the best scene. Now the chapter is twice as long. Something's gotta give :( But the polishing part is kind of exciting. It's just hard work overall.

kimberlyloomis said...

Editing... I'm reasonably certain it should only be a four letter word, but perhaps that's just me. Truth is, editing is both pain and pleasure for me and often in different turns. Unfortunately the pain sometimes seems to blather on while the pleasure part waits meekly around a corner that isn't even in my vision yet. When I hit that point where I think the whole work is horrid that's when I take a break. That break lasts as long as it takes for me to achieve the mental reset button so I don't so quickly reach for the delete key.

Afterward, I just sit back and revel in the good work (as I prod and otherwise molest my friends/relatives to read it and give me all manner of flattery). :)

Good luck and, just remember, the finished product is well worth the trials and tribulations.

RosieC said...

Kimberly, breaks are definitely helpful. Unfortunately I think I break more than I edit :( I will definitely need to focus more on the finished product than the process, at least when it gets really hard. Thanks for the encouragement!

Mohamed Mughal said...

Apologies for being the pervert here, but revision is a pleasure for me.

Hang in there; you're right, the end result will be worth the pain.

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