Monday, April 12, 2010

Discussion: Writing, Passion, and Revision

Many of the previous posters on the current Blog Chain (discussing whether you write for yourself or for the market) say that they need to write stories they feel passionate about. In particular, Eric's post has given me something to ponder today. To paraphrase, he says that when he writes what others want him to write, the writing is forced. But when he writes for himself, the words flow. While I do love the times when the words flow, there are spots in my projects, even the ones I love, when I have to push myself through them. I'm having this issue now with a scene near the end of Across Two Universes. Perhaps the words aren't coming because I'm not really sure this scene is needed; the reason I added it to begin with is to place a character my hero loves in potential jeopardy. For now, I'll write it and decide later if it's necessary. 

Passion seems to play a role in the writing of the first draft, but what happens later, when you're going through endless rounds of revision? How do you keep the feelings and the voice of your story then? This is especially crucial if you're getting feedback from other readers; sometimes, when revising according to their suggestions, you can lose sight of your goals and your voice.

One thing that helps me keep going through draft after draft is passion for the craft of writing itself. I want to improve what I've written; I want to make it clearer, make my voice stronger, bring the emotions and settings to life. I often find myself rewriting during this stage as new ideas come to me, so there's still some of that first-draft creativity present. When I receive feedback from others, I consider how well it fits. Some suggestions are easy ones to make, but sometimes people will suggest changes that affect what I want to do with the story. In those cases, I try to consider the intent behind the suggestion. Sometimes that inspires me to go off in a completely new direction as a way of fixing the problem my way.

Perhaps writing a novel, when you're working with something over months or years, is like sustaining passion in a marriage. You have to be willing to change with your partner and try new things. Does this analogy make sense? How do you keep the passion alive in your nth draft?


Christine Fonseca said...

So funny you post this tonight. After being "done" with my novel...I got some great feedback and now I will be..yep, you guessed it, revising some more! Strangely, I am EXCITED for this one - I know how much stronger it will make the storyline. And maybe that is the key

scarlettprose said...

This is true, what you're saying about which changes to make and deciphering the intent behind the suggestions. You also have to consider the source. Is this person your target audience? If not, how much weight should you lend to his/her suggestion? This is one I am struggling with currently. After a certain amount of time has passed since you've finished that first draft, your mood has changed, and possibly your voice along with it. It may be difficult to re-kindle that initial passion. What always keeps me going is positive feedback from my target audience. Sometimes though, you have to put that manuscript away for a little while, and look at it with new eyes, renewed vigor. It's like re-connecting with an old fried.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Christine--Yes, if you feel that your revisions are making your story stronger, that helps a lot.

Scarlett--I agree with you about giving yourself a break from your draft. Once I finish my current draft, I'm taking a month away from it. It sounds weird not to be working on my story; I'll have to find another project to work on in the meantime!

Cole Gibsen said...

I, too, find myself at certain points when I must force myself to move forward. When I hit those point I'll either skip them and come back when the muse strikes or work it out with a write or die session.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Cole--I'm not very good at skipping around in a story. Maybe sometime I should try a write or die session.

Eric said...

While I'm glad to be the reason for making you ponder such things, I don't have any really good answers either. Passion during those dry moments is something I struggle with from time to time as well. The only thing that works for me is to give it time, let the inspiration and drive strike when it's ready to. That's not to say that I don't sometimes trudge through writing when I really don't feel like it or when the writing is just coming out bland. But taking a step back and letting my mind wander over the ideas without direction is often the key for me.

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