Progress Report

So I carved out this little space a week ago, and haven’t updated since which makes me feel a wee bit guilty but I couldn’t think of anything to write for my second post that would really be of interest to anyone.

Then I remembered that a blog is for telling everyone out there on the internet exactly what’s going on with you, whether they care or not. And not many people know that this is here yet, which is why I need to keep hammering away at it, to build it into a monolith of text that no one can ignore. People will be forced to read it, whether they know me or not, whether or not they even believe I’m a real person or a corporate-developed conglomerate posing as human for the sake of selling books. This blog will be read in schools, it will be projected onto the sides of buildings. The text will be inescapable. People will read the books this blog is selling and weep, possibly because they would rather be doing anything else.

Josan Gonzalez
Illustration by Josan Gonzalez

Listen, I’m sorry. I didn’t make this dystopian future.*

But we have a long way to go before we get to that, so here’s what’s happening with me and my book today, October 5, 2016:

Revisions!

I don’t know if you know this, but writing a book is hard. Most people don’t get it right on the first try. So revising is an important part of the process, to go back, look at the parts that aren’t working, and see if you can fix it and make it so they do–or at least, so not as many people will notice that they don’t.

A lot of writers hate it. I know some writers who refuse to even do it, but all we can do for them is pray that someday they’ll come to the light.

A lot of writers actually like it. I once heard a writer I admire very much (I think it was Robin Hobb) say that revision and rewriting is where she really gets to take her story and make it sing. Because when you’re revising, you already know what the story is and now it’s time to just make it good.

I can see both points of view. I spent the last four years (nearly five, actually) working on my own book, and the main reason it took so long was that when I started I had no idea what I was doing. So instead of doing things the most sensible way, which is usually to write a whole story all the way to the end and then go back and fix it, I did things in a very herky-jerky, stop-and-start kind of a way. I would push the story forward and get stuck, and give up, and not work on it for months and months, so when I came back I wouldn’t remember what the story even was. That meant I would begin at the beginning, polishing as I went, changing small or medium-sized story events, and often taking a whole different direction two thirds of the way through what I had and losing whole swathes of story at a time. Until I got stuck again, and wandered away again, and eventually came back. Lather, rinse, repeat.

golconda-rene-magritte-he-718x400

It was slow, but I didn’t worry too much about the time it was taking, or the digressions. I always thought of this book as the book I would write to learn how to write a novel, and that’s what it turned out to be. And nobody cared whether it got finished or not except me, so I always told myself if it became completely unsalvageable I didn’t have to go back to it. Nobody would be mad at me. There would be no consequences, other than lost time.

I always did come back to it. Because as it turned out, this story is a story I am passionate about. It combines a lot of things I love: Greek mythology, California history, silent movies, and a main character I really love and identify with. Sometimes I would get frustrated, or overwhelmed, or just busy with other things, so I would have to leave the book for a while. But I could never leave it alone.

I love this story.

On the other hand, I have been staring at the same words for so long that now they all blur together in front of my eyes and have no meaning, and I have to trust other people about what does and doesn’t make sense anymore because I feel like I might as well be adjusting a test pattern at this point.

word-repetition-in-writing-300x200

The good news is, that means we’re almost done.

 

*I very much did create this dystopian future. Just this one though.

 

 

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