Rewriting and NaNoWriMo

First–thanks Ann Dee for taking yesterday for me.
Carolina turned 14. (She’s so great.)
We had no Internet for several days. But it’s back now.
I cannot blame the dogs just because I don’t like them. I must blame Comcast. They shut the power off. Who knows why?

After reading the past few posts (Chris’ Wednesday post last week that Ann Dee got credit for and then Ann Dee’s post this week that I may have gotten credit for, I hope), I’ve been thinking about this business we’re in.
I’m always thinking about this business we’re in, actually. And in fact, I whine a great deal here to YOU ALL.
(You’re welcome.)

I’m still wondering about the amazing Marilynne Robinson and wishing I hadn’t been sick so I could have gone to her reading.
I’m thinking of her comment that she doesn’t revise.
I’m thinking of this statement pulled from yesterday’s blog: She said, I never leave a sentence until I feel like it’s done.

And I know I shouldn’t argue with a Pulitzer prize winner, but isn’t that rewriting?
That working on a sentence until it’s completed–until it’s ‘done,’ perfect, exactly as it should be?
Isn’t that revising?
Perhaps I misunderstand. Maybe not one word goes on the page until it’s completely thought through.
Maybe there are years of thinking about the plot, the lay of the land where the book will take place, the characters and who they are before they step onto the page.

There are all kinds of rewriting.
Louise Plummer does her writing kind of like Marilynne. Each word must pay off and she goes sentence by sentence. Read A DANCE FOR THREE to see what I mean.
And I usually, before the DD, spend more time IN the novel, chopping and writing and weighing each word as I go. It certainly makes for less edits at the end of a completed draft. I’m no writing genius like Marilynne Robinson (or Louise) and after a work is completed I MUST continue to hone and rewrite and listen to comments from others and talk with my agent and editor and change this and that.
Every year, I want the best book possible for me.
Every year.

As writers for children and young adults, we can’t afford to allow twenty four years between books.
We lose our audience quickly.
They grow up.

This next month as we venture into the NaNoWriMo competition that ends with us at Olive Garden partaking of Olive Garden-y schtuff, we will not be able to weigh each word so carefully as there won’t be tons of time. But we can still write strong (ummm, keep reading) prose–even if the work isn’t as clean as we’d like–and yes, this creation will need lots of work at the end and may even need to be thrown away when we’re done


If you remember a few things as you go along, you can write better during this NaNoWriMo adventure. Think fewer adjectives, little to no adverbs, slow down a bit when the cliche starts to leak out your fingertips and think of a new way to say what you want to say, remember that each page or so needs sense of place to ground your reader and you can add that as you go. We’ve talked about tags being he said, she said so don’t put other kinds in your work the first time through. Plan a little before hand. Talk to your characters–all of them–now. What is your main character’s goal? What does she want? Who will you keep her from getting it? Do you have a general idea of what the climax of the novel will be? Plan a little here and that will make the ideas a little easier to put to paper in November–just a few days from now–like less than a week!

The DD knocked me around. I’ve never had a novel kick at me that way THAT one did. In fact, even though it’s finished, and even though it has gone on to my amazing editor, I realize that guess what? I wasn’t done and there are changes still to be made and I will have to rewrite the ending and what if my editor has forgotten about me? I very nearly took twenty four years to finish THAT book after signing the contract.

“We don’t want Hope to forget you,” Steve said a few months ago.
I went out and yelled at the dogs.

During this writing experience–and I will admit this was an awful time working that book over–I began to think that I’d forgotten how to write.
“Just get it on the page,” I told myself. “Who cares how many ‘ly’ words there are? Who cares if this word is stoopid or that thought is cliche. You signed a contract! Finish!”
And so, as I worried over and thought about and wrote on the DD, I rewrote another novel (that needs one more revision) and wrote another book that comes out in the Spring (WAITING, Paula Wiseman Imprint, 2012).
And still I kept feeling like a failure.
Until I realized I what I had done. Written a book from scratch and sold it and rewritten another book that another editor is really interested in.

I’m not bragging. I was surviving. And anyway, look what Ann Dee did. SHE had a baby.

The end to this VERY long blog piece is that we all write in different ways. And we all revise in different ways.
And as long as it gets done–no matter the time–no matter the number of pubbed books–if we are pleased with what we’ve done–we’re successful.


Filed under CLW

10 responses to “Rewriting and NaNoWriMo

  1. Thank you. Amazing, as always.

  2. Angie Shinkle

    I keep thinking about NaNoWriMo. It pops into my head when I’m doing other things, like laundry. Even the thought is intimidating, but I still keep thinking about it. Then I read this post, and it pushed me over the edge to the “doing it” side.

    I think you are an amazing woman. What you accomplish gives me hope. So now I’m in. I bet I regret typing that in 5 min.

  3. Isn’t it funny how no matter how much we do, it’s so much easier to see all we haven’t done? You got all that written, and that’s amazing. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed because I’m trying to re-write two books and write a new one (and wondering if I should even think about doing NaNoWriMo on top of all that.)
    I agree with the other comments–it gives me hope to keep going.

  4. Denece

    Happy belated birthday to carolina


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