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Friday, January 8, 2010

AFDOC: Week One

Happy New Year, fellow writers! I promised you a look at the revision process I'm going through to get my novel in shape for submission to publishers, and here we go. My first week is done and what a daunting experience it has been. A few basics you might or might not want to know are, the novel is entitled A Few Degrees Off Center and currently has 124,153 words spread over 41 chapters. Since I'm a person who believes a lot in the process of anything, when one of my writing friends gave me a beautiful writers' journal from the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a Christmas present, I decided almost immediately after opening the beautiful gift that it would be my journal for the re-write of my novel.

January 1: Full of excitement, I pulled the box full of ms pages from under my bed where I had stashed it for safety during the Christmas chaos. This was get down to it, serious, git 'er done time, and the weight of my mission hit me full in the face as I carefully opened the box. I gathered my family and completely rearranged our dining room to enable me to get to the widest wall where I plan to attach the new roll of paper I bought just for this exercise. You'll hear more about that in future weekly segments of this absorbing saga. It took me a good 30 minutes to carefully sort the contents of the box. Desk lamp plugged in, paper clips in their magnetized cup, different colored markers in a basket, different colored and sized stickie notes stacked close by, stapler to the right, I placed my different colored pens and pencils and a pair of scissors in the beautiful mug another friend had given me at Christmas, which has one of my favorite quotes inscribed on it from Thomas Jefferson, "I cannot live without books." New journal to my left, ms sorted by chapter and in order {so I thought at the time,} extra notes in another stack, and research materials at one end of my dining room table, I made a side trip to the kitchen for a cup of Russian tea - another Christmas gift. I finally sat down.

My first goal was to read through the chapters just like it was a real book, and I started with chapter one, which, of course, is always a good place to start when reading a book. But, alas, I found myself getting caught up in the remarks some of my critique buddies had made and I had never fully absorbed nor had I put the changes I liked into my ms. I realized within a few chapters that I am truly blessed to have such well read, well written, and honest writing peers, who give me an honest appraisal of my work. By chapter five I gave up trying to ignore the remarks and went back and re-read the first chapters and then all the remarks penned in the margins {and penned a few of my own in response} - a wealth of information at my fingertips!

At the end of each session, I wrote in my lovely journal what I was feeling and made a list of what I had learned - I'm anything if not organized. By January 6, I realized I might be developing a medical problem because my abdomen felt like a minuscule wrestler had moved into it every time I sat down at the table, and (s)he was meticulously hammer locking my colon. I knew without a doubt I could not do this, no way, no how. One of my claims to fame when I was gainfully employed {and still today in my volunteer work} is my strong ability to take on seemingly impossible projects and turn them into something successful. But making all the changes and incorporating all the things I wanted to bring to my novel loomed in a frightening way I couldn't comprehend. I've read a ton of how-to-write books, taken writing classes, I edit for other people for God's sake. What was wrong with me? When I mutter a few misgivings to another writer at coffee, she told me exactly what I've told her and others, "Everybody feels that way." She didn't help, and now, of course, I know I've been lacking in helping others who were doubting themselves.

My colon still takes on a decided mind of its own and rather than being like a slinky when it walks, which is how it's supposed to work, mine decided to try interesting Celtic cross designs, but with the stoicism of my English ancestors, I bore on. I finished the last chapter of my ms last night, took my aching head, and went to bed where my jumbled thoughts and designing colon kept me awake for hours. Sometime after 2 am. I fell asleep and my subconscious took over {thank God} to start sorting through my information overload.

My writing angel woke me at 9 this morning, and like the hilarious angel in the movie version of Scrooge with Bill Murray, she knocked me upside the head and told me to get up and get busy. I responded in not a too kind way, went to Wally World and bought 10 million dollars of groceries, went by the library and picked up the 15 books I had on hold {might as well read if you can't write}, put 2 million dollars of gas in the car, picked up my granddaughter from school, and made it home in one piece. My writing angel met me at the door and after I find a place to store all the food I plan to turn into soup and lasagna, {it's freezing in Mobile for a change} you'll find me back in my dining room, working on the scenes in each of my 41 chapters.

Wish me luck.................Mahala

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