Where I write

Where I write

January 9, 2012

My Writer Resolution for 2012

A month ago, a former neighbor and friend of mine named Fred died of cancer. One of my first thoughts, after wishing I had taken the time to stop by and visit him more often, and feeling sad for his family was "did Fred finish his novel?" He lived in the same condo complex I lived, just around the corner and he had a bloodhound named, Henry, and a little yellow bird named Sunshine that perched on his shoulder. (I didn't make that up about the bird. Promise.) Fred loved, and not necessarily in this order, animals, tennis, women, books and his novel.

Once Fred learned I was a writer he brought out a thick manuscript and asked me for some editing comments. The book was long and complicated, involving time travel, and Arizona and Native Americans, and spiritual lessons, and criminals and  a lot of interesting far out stuff. Fred ignored all my critiquing suggestions, but with good humor, and we stayed friends. He liked to read, as most writers do, and so we often discussed books when we saw one another walking our dogs.

So I went to his funeral recently and thought when it was time to speak I would get up and mention his novel, for its creative twists and turns had somehow stayed with me even after last reading it several years ago. I wanted everyone to know Fred was a great writer. To my surprise everyone who eulogized Fred mentioned something about this one novel. Apparently he had been working on this very same novel for decades. This novel had grown bigger and bigger each year. According to his family and friends, a lot of Fred was in this novel. In real life Fred was a traveling cosmetics salesman (for an old guy there sure were a lot of attractive woman at his funeral that he'd met at cosmetic counters) but in his imagination  Fred was an adventurer, a romantic, a swashbuckler of sorts. A new age thinker with a touch of Al Capone, and he put all of that down on paper in his one thick novel.

 Whether or not Fred regretted not finishing the novel, or publishing it, I'll never know. His family mentioned they finally printed the novel on their own. I thought someone said it was out in the mortuary lobby for everyone to see. I looked for the finalized version before leaving, but couldn't find it and the widow seemed too distraught to ask.

Fred's long complicated novel got me thinking recently about my own novel which, as I've already told you all, I am determined to complete in 2012 or just give up the entire thing. First I need to find a meeting for "editing anonymous." I never think my writing is good enough.

Here is the first example of my writing. I would tell you my age but then it would date me and everyone at the resturant would know my age.  It was a post card my sister saved which I sent her when I went to Wisconsin with my family in 1963. I can't believe she saved it all these years. She's a saver, thank goodness, because I tend to throw stuff out. Anyway, upon reading it I wished I could change the wording. For example I should have written "I go in the water a lot." Seeing the word "lots" makes me cringe. This is how crazy I am about revising. Example:
Several years I got a story published in this little book. Not much money, but I was grateful and happy. However, when I read the story I wrote I saw all sorts of places where it needed improvement. Even though it was already in print, and published, and being sold I did this to my one copy --
I marked up the pages with editing comments. Now is that crazy or what? Thankfully I used pencil. Quite often I can barely look at anything I've had published because I see so many ways it could be made better. Sigh. No wonder  I am spinning my wheels. I like the revising part better than the creating part of writing. Getting words on a blank piece of paper is so much harder for me than going back and fixing, fixing, fixing. I did better in journalism because the editor was there tapping his foot expecting me to meet my deadline which I always did. But with fiction..not so much. I can wander and play with revising my writing all day long and no one cares.

Fred liked just to write, write, write. He didn't like to revise. A writer who wants to be published needs to be both. A writer must be able to put words on a blank page, freely, openly, then revise, and then let go. I'm not certain, but I think Fred wasn't so concerned about getting published which is okay.
I, however, (or so I blab about) want to finish my novel and would like to some day retire the server apron, earn a living from my fiction, at least before I'm eligible for social security.

So it's 2012. No more excuses. Do you hear me up there Fred? Or are you still busy working on your fantastical novel and sharing it with all the angels? I bet those angels are thoroughly entertained.


Brandy Lee said...

you should revise the first sentence in the fifth paragraph of this recent blog! the end should read "i am determined to complete by 2012." and just stop there. no giving up on your dreams, or you will have to wear the apron until you need a walker! lol

Brandy Lee said...

also, I am still eager to read the first chapter! but I might settle for just being able to read the short story you had published.... for now

Susanne Brent said...

If I have to use a walker will you carry my plates to the table for me team member? Susanne

Anonymous said...

Put me on the list of people who are dying to read your novel!! You are such a talented writer and its time to get that novel done . . . and be happy with finished product. Yeah, I know that second part is hard to do, but you can do it!! :-)

SunsetCindi said...

I understand your dilemma as I too love to revise and to edit, other people's work too. Anything I read I naturally edit. That's the great part about WIG, no editing, we write, we're done. We need to make a pact to be more WIG-like in 2012 and less of an editor. So 2012 is the year to set your novel free, it's on your dream board, so it is written, so it is done.