Words fail me; or rather, I fail them.

March 19, 2010 at 9:26 am (Uncategorized)

Still working… it’s nearly 8 pm here, and it’s been a big afternoon of redrafting. I didn’t even make it for a run. I should have gone when I first got back from the IVF clinic late this morning, otherwise the day gets away from me. Time slips past like a cheeky ghost, snubbing her nose at me as she continues on her way.

Progress is slow. I’ve started each day’s work since the manuscript mark-up at page one, and every day I see something new, either something that isn’t there (catchphrase, anyone? Let’s play a quick round of emotional closeness!), or something that is (those lame, contrived arguments between the protagonist and the illustrator? They’re not long for this world. They clunk like cheap shoes).

One of the funny things I’ve noticed about the rekeying exercise is that in certain places, the writing has become blunt and dull. Tight, yes, at times what I would call economical to a fault, because occasionally something vital has been lost, and now I find myself trying to put some of those missing ingredients back in. Not all; there’s no question the streamlining is extremely helpful and effective in parts, giving the narrative an unmistakable force and speed. But there’s flatness to it too, and that’s a very disturbing thing to find in one’s own work, especially after so much effort has been expended trying to make it sing. Trying to make it true, something that will resonate for my poor long-suffering imaginary reader, and instead in parts it’s cold and unaccommodating, nowhere I’d want to spend the night… Sigh. I think in all honesty I erred in the rekeying process by drifting too far into that tunnel, a place in which all I could see, after a very short time, was an excess of words. I wanted spare language, I wanted everything pared back, filed down, and shaved away. I gloried in my reduced word count. I admired my own ruthlessness in the face of – and perhaps finally at the expense of – greater feeling. In short, I took an excellent exercise too far.

Still, I’d do it again, because there’s plenty of cut and dumped words that won’t make it back alive.



  1. Grad said,

    Take some time off to have fun this weekend. I love “clunk like cheap shoes.” I may just borrow that at my first opportunity and take credit for it. It is very evocative and funny and very clever. I steal the best stuff from you!

  2. Lilian Nattel said,

    It sounds like you’re doing a lot of hard work and thinking–and ready for some fun.

  3. doctordi said,

    Graddikins and Lilian, you’ll see I did just as you two girls suggested! Such fine advice, it couldn’t be ignored!

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