End-of-the-Year Revision Madness!

Revision sucks. It sucks on a lot of levels. You know you have to do it to make your story better, but it takes so much doing, such incredibly close attention to detail and thick callouses on your heart. You’ll have to cut things that you loved writing, things you wanted your readers to know so bad, even things that you thought added layers to the story because it isn’t relevant and the trouble it’s causing is outweighing the good it’s doing. You’ll have to read through from beginning to end, searching for any tiny puzzle piece—a word or even an apostrophe—affected by the changes. You might end up deleting a whole hundred pages because things turned out differently than they did in your first, second, or eighth draft. Revision requires a fine-toothed comb and a machete. When you do it right, it’s exhausting, frustrating, and emotional—rewarding, too, but not until you get to the end.

Anyway, inspired by my lack of enthusiasm for the one goal I’ve decided to hold myself to this year (a finalfinalfinal revision of the book I’ve working-titled Halo), I’ve compiled this list of

5 Things I’d Rather Do than Revise Halo Again: 
  1. Write this blog post.
  2. Random exercises I saw my sister doing the other day. (She’s on Insanity, the workout DVD for people who are serious about maximizing their workout. Dig deep!)
  3. Wash the dishes. (This is how I know I’m procrastinating.)
  4. Pay attention to my poor, neglected kids.
  5. This thing where I hold onto the edge of the island in our kitchen and jump as high as I can using the counter for leverage. (The object of this game is to get my feet above the countertop without falling down.)
  6. Read anything I didn’t write. (Yesterday I read all of the comics my friend lent me and I just started The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I’m crazy into it.)

My original 2012 goal for Halo was to get an agent by the end of the year. So far, I’ve managed to procrastinate long enough that achieving that goal is basically impossible (replies from agents can take up to two months), so I need to get this incarnation of Halo done.

I guess I should be an adult about this, buckle down, and get to work. After a couple more of these jumpy-things.


Afflictions Eclipsed by Glory

Most of you (assuming there are enough people who read this blog to split them into a majority and minority) know that I have two little boys who will be starting preschool over the next couple years. I don’t want to talk about what happened Friday. I don’t want to think about it.  I don’t even want to know that it happened, so I sure as heck don’t want to write a blog post about it.

Right now there's nothing I want more than to curl up with one of the comic books my friend lent me and get lost in a nice, brightly-colored alien war where little kids don’t get shot to death for no reason.

In the last post on this blog I told you writers can’t ignore or hide from the disturbing, painful, sickening things that happen in our world. The coward in me wishes I hadn't told you that because here are the facts: Babies are dead. Parents are dead. People across the country are sick, hurt, angry, and sad. We don't know what to do with this.

Friday night, my sister-in-law said, “I told [my son] that the world isn’t going to end this month, but now I don’t know. I don’t see why God wouldn’t just swoop down and take us all out.” A lot of my friends and family have been saying how much they wish the Mayans had been right about the date of the apocalypse. I’ve been saying it, too. Can you imagine what a relief it would be to be done with this whole mess? Unfortunately, the end of the world isn’t coming on Mayan Apocalypse Day.

"[God] should kill us all with an [assault rifle]," my sister-in-law said. "That would be appropriate, don't you think?" 

What my sister-in-law understands that some people don't is that we're all humans. If one of us massacres a hundred others, we all share the blame. I know it goes against the grain to admit that. Whenever some great injustice or tragedy happens, our first instinct is to separate ourselves from the perpetrator. To say, “This gunman was mentally ill. That dictator was power-hungry and sadistic. That group was part of a sect that practices a radical form of our religion mutated to fit their own beliefs. He/she/they are not like me.”

The truth is that gunman, that dictator, and that group are humans just like we are. We have the capacity in our hearts to as much harm as they did. You can swear you don’t or split this into a hundred different semantic arguments, but evil is in you the same as it is in me. It may come out in different forms, but none of it is helping make this world a better place.

The good news is there's something we can do. In the previous post on this blog, I told you that I didn’t know how to respond to tragedy or even the pain of living every day. You have to feel it, you have to face it, and you can’t hide from it if you want to be a writer. But now I understand that you can have peace in spite of it.

One of my favorite songs says, “If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.” To me, that’s the real relief.