Monday, February 22, 2010

Novel Revisions Survival



No one should ever have to read a sentence twice because of the way it is put together. 
— Wilson Follett


No matter how clean I think my manuscript is after revisions and edits, I am almost certain to find some dirty little dust bunnies hiding in there just by doing this one thing: Read it aloud. 
It works every time. 
Yeah, it takes a long time. But it will be worth it. 
It amazes me how many silly errors and echoes I find this way, when I was so sure I had them all culled. 
Most importantly, I find that a sentence or passage I was once enamored with is actually clunky; perhaps unintended alliteration, or trying too hard. Reading it aloud is my writing dirt devil, my best tool to polish my MS to a sparkling shine.


I want to give my CPs and beta readers as clean and pretty a draft as I am able.  
This equates to a lot of time rewriting, sitting, hunched over the laptop, looking at the damn WIP again, cursing myself for not being brilliant enough to get it right before my thighs spread to Kentucky and my back shapes me into something that should be perched atop Notre Dame. 


When I'm feeling knee deep in feces during yet another round of revisions, this always cheers me up:


"I write one page of masterpiece to ninetyone
 pages of shit,” Hemingway confided to F.
Scott Fitzgerald in 1934. “I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”


Remember, Hemingway rewrote the ending of A Farewell to Arms 39 times, I tell myself. 


When all else fails I eat some Doritos and drink more coffee. 
Write on.
Lola

Friday, February 19, 2010

Showing Some Book Love, My bookshelves


 I have 10 large, full bookshelves (and many stacks), my daughter has 3 and even more stacks. 
Here is a couple shelves of one of mine.
There is very little order, the only "system" is the height of the book goes on a shelf that'll allow for that size aka Cram it where it'll fit. And I sometimes try to keep an author's works together. That doesn't always work out, especially if I have small paperbacks and large hardbacks, they usually end up separated. Also, books I read a lot tend to end up in the bookshelf next to my bed. My TBR stack is on the floor next to my bed. And fiction is generally separate from nonfiction. I also mostly manage to keep my reference books together on one shelf in my office.


I just finished Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow today...man was that a wild, crazy trip!
And funny. Very funny.
I really loved it.
I worried it might be too 'scientific' for me. 
Instead, it just added to the insanity of it all.

Next up...An Expensive Education by Nick McDonell.
I'll let you know.

The rest of the weekend I'll be working on my revisions.
And spending time with friends.

And catching up on sleep...
I stayed up watching the Olympics every night this week, and 6 a.m. comes early.
Last night watching the Men's Figure Skating-long program
was SO exciting! Evan brought it! 
That spin!

Have you been watching?

Please have a lovely and safe weekend.
~Lola

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Flying Tomato Wins Gold!!

And so does Shanni Davis and Lindsay Vonn!! CONGRATS!! Woot!




Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Maybe...

Maybe I am not talented enough, maybe I'm a hack, a fraud.

Maybe I read too many mysteries, urban fantasies, and thrillers when I should be reading more serious literature.

Maybe I read too much serious literature when I should be writing...or doing chores.

Maybe I love the smell of puppy breath and crayola crayons and fresh rain on hot pavement.

Maybe I love punk rock AND classical. And pop. And blues. And...

Maybe I'm a literary and musical omnivore.

Maybe I never iron my clothes. Maybe I never will.

Maybe I think it's weird that some people iron their jeans.

Maybe I hate socks.

Maybe I am high heels or flip flops/barefoot and rarely anything in between.

Maybe I wish I was prettier, skinnier, smarter, nicer, more patient.

Maybe I don't shave my legs or dress up or blow-out my hair and do my make-up every day.

Maybe I love spontaneous travel and adventure.

Maybe I love sand and ocean air.

Maybe I eat Cocoa Puffs for breakfast every morning.

Maybe coffee with an obscene amount of sugar makes me happy and functioning.

Maybe I love big cities and country farms.

Maybe I'm girlie and love Jane Austen, poetry, period/romantic movies, babies, the color pink, animals, and can be brought to tears by a commercial.

Maybe I'm girlie AND like violent action movies, crass, raunchy humor, NFL, science fiction, driving fast cars, fast boats, playing sports, fishing, dancing in high heels and other badass things I wont mention here.

Maybe I come from a background of Broken People.

Maybe I worry I am Broken.

Maybe I secretly know that I'm Repaired, and did so on my own.

Maybe I know I am strong and decent and loving in spite of my childhood.

Maybe I've been legally on my own since I was 15.

Maybe I am shallow enough to love spending money on pretty things.

Maybe I spend a LOT of money on books...and shoes...and music...and flowers.

Maybe I donate a lot of money.

Maybe I love digging in the soil and playing with plants and flowers; watching things grow.

Maybe I am beyond blessed and so very grateful that I know what real love is.

Maybe I am beyond blessed that my daughter is healthy, happy, gorgeous and smart.

Maybe, just maybe, somehow I'll learn how to be worthy of my blessings.
Saturday, February 13, 2010

Writing, REAL love, and Happy Valentines Weekend


Ah love. That ever I could string together the words perfect and poetic enough, to somehow not sully or tarnish such a grand thing as love. Fortunately for the world, so many before me have done such a fine and worthy job of putting love and affection into words.  And oh how I love words. They have always held me in their spell, nearly as much as love itself.

Love, it has so many meanings and yet only one. It is simple and complicated.

When I think of all love's many forms, the most important is the big, rather, BIGGEST picture love has to offer:

Loving all.
By that I mean love as a verb. More than the feeling/emotion itself (which can be so fickle), is the doing...the giving of love.
Allow me to expand...
~Loving the planet and all that lives upon it, being a good and gracious steward. Giving respect and care-- even when one isnt feeling it in return. (because it will come back tenfold, if only for knowing you did the right, honorable thing(s)) We get by giving, I know this to be true.
~Loving ourselves, and knowing that no one, NO ONE is better than us. Nor are we better than another.
Respecting and loving ourselves as well as others, I think, is the most beautiful gift we can give to ourselves and to the world.
Some of the most generous, loving and kind people I've ever been privileged to know have been the poorest, sickest and seemingly with the least to give.
Some of the most unkind, selfish, greedy and miserable people I've ever met have been those with so much to be grateful for (health, education, roof over ones head, money, etc). How sad for them. And the world.

Real love is changing poopy diapers.
Real love is patient.
It isn't diamonds and roses.
It's doing the work.


My point here is, if you feel you have no one to love this Valentines Day (or any other day), and that no one loves you, perhaps you aren't getting the big picture...what REAL love is. Perhaps you are failing to see all the gifts of love YOU have to offer. And, also, I love you. <3 p="">









 My heart to you is given:
Oh, do give yours to me;
We'll lock them up together,
And throw away the key.






~Frederick Saunders













 Gustave's words to his wife (below) make my knee's weak, and my heart pound in my chest, they are so powerful. Damn.




I will cover you with love when next I see you, with caresses, with ecstasy.  I want to gorge you with all the joys of the flesh, so that you faint and die.  I want you to be amazed by me, and to confess to yourself that you had never even dreamed of such transports.... When you are old, I want you to recall those few hours, I want your dry bones to quiver with joy when you think of them. 


~Gustave Flaubert, letter to wife Louise Colet, 15 August 1846








Happy Valentines Day!




Love to ALL,
Lola
Thursday, February 11, 2010

Writing IS Rewriting (and rewriting, and rewriting some more)



Good writing is essentially rewriting.
~ Roald Dahl



 I have rewritten — often several times — every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers. 
~ Vladimir Nabokov


The best writing is rewriting.
~ E. B. White

I can’t write five words but that I change seven.
~ Dorothy Parker

I don’t write easily or rapidly. My first draft usually has only a few
elements worth keeping. I have to find what those are and build from them and throw out what doesn’t work, or what simply is not alive.
~ Susan Sontag

The pleasure is the rewriting: The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written. This is a koan-like statement, and I don’t mean to sound needlessly obscure or mysterious, but it’s simply true. The completion of any work automatically necessitates its revisioning.
~ Joyce Carol Oates

I can’t understand how anyone can write without rewriting everything over and over again.
~ Leo Tolstoy

Writing and rewriting are a constant search for what it is one is saying.
~ John Updike


Yes, as you may have guessed, I am in the revision/rewriting phase of my current novel. I am about halfway through doing the second draft and I actually enjoy the pruning and the experimenting, improving and polishing; making it the best it can be. (I'll let you know how much I enjoy it on my 5th draft.)

 Ernest Hemingway once confided to George Plimpton that he rewrote the ending of "A Farewell to Arms" 39 times before he was satisfied. (THIRTY NINE TIMES!!)
"Why so many rewrites?" Plimpton asked.
Hemingway responded simply: "Because I wanted to get the words right."

Michael Crichton once said, "Books are not written-they're rewritten." 

Harry Shaw in "Errors in English and The Ways to Correct Them" (I highly recommend, by the way) says, "There is no such thing as good writing. There is only good rewriting."


So, that's where I've been. Rewrites. And shoveling snow. Lots and lots of shoveling snow.
Did I mention that I am so over snow? Me and snow, we're through. 

Oh, since I last posted the awesome Saints WON! 
(and a couple more MAJOR blizzards hit us...hence my new out-of-love with snow status)
And we watched Zombieland! My love affair with it is still very ON. 
Last night we watched Bright Star (@Keats), which I LOVED, but husband thought was boring. 

I will not be rewriting this post, or even checking it for typos...how you like me now? I'm a rebel. (I never edit my posts. Too lazy.)

How do you feel about rewrites?

Have a happy Friday!
~Lola 
Friday, February 5, 2010

Winter Writing, Movies and other Disasters

Happy Weekend!
So, the mother of all blizzards (in this area of the states anyway) is upon us. "They" are calling for up to 3 inches/hour for a total of 2 feet by this time tomorrow.



 I know someone is going to give me a knuckle sandwich for saying this, but, I kinda like it.
I would prefer if it came on a weekday, so my child would get to stay home from school, and we could  sleep in on a weekday. (6:15 AM is NOT my happy time. I do it every weekday to get the kid out the door on time, and it just does not get any easier.) But still I like when we get a "Big One" because instead of going places all weekend we hunker down together as a family and eat comfort foods and watch movies (and the Superbowl on Sunday--What Dat? Who dat? the Saints bay-bee!).




The line at the Blockbuster this morning was insane!! (but I got my grubby paws on Zombieland...which uses my personal credo: if you are gonna shoot someone, TWO IN THE HEAD, darlin', two in the damn head. Double tap. Something worth doing is worth doing well, I always say.)

The child wants to watch 10 Things I Hate About You (w/Heath Ledger) and Grosse Pointe Blank (one of my all-time favorites *swoon*, awesome soundtrack to boot)--I mean, you just have to love Martin. So I'm happy to oblige her.


So, between our little movie festival and the Superbowl, I have promised myself to get at least 10 pages done on my WIP re-writes.

What are YOUR plans for this weekend?

Whatever they are, please have a happy and safe weekend,
Lola
Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lloyd, Lloyd All Null and Void...

Inspiration comes to a writer, or at least this writer, from everywhere.
Today, I shall discuss one potential source of inspiration: Music.

 I frequently listen to music while writing. It can evoke and inspire a mood, an atmosphere, that I want when writing a scene, particularly a moody or emotional scene.
Other times I write in silence, so as not to be distracted from listening to the voices of my characters in my head, keeping the process honest and organic.
(Yipes... I know that sounds a bit woo woo, granola/sprout eating, birkenstock wearing and fairy dust-ish, and/or that I'm in need for prescribed chemicals. I shave my legs, have never owned any type of 'earth shoes', hate sprouts--they're like eating pubes aka gross!-- and granola aint no Cocoa Puffs, my breakfast cereal of choice. As for the chemicals, I'm not on any...but hey, if you're offering.)

I have a few go-to musical artists that never fail me:

Regina Spektor
Peter Gabriel
Brand New
Nina Simone
Patti Smith
NIN
the Smiths
Thelonious Monk
Cat Power
Zero7
the songs of/'soundtrack' to ONCE

I especially love this (infamous) song by Peter Gabriel, it is lyrically and musically brilliant, transporting me instantly to his world...and Lloyd's.
(Say Anything is one of my all time favorites...I can quote the entire movie. Is that scary?)


In Your Eyes
Love I get so lost, Sometimes
days pass and this emptiness fills my heart
When I want to run away
I drive off in my car
But whichever way I go
I come back to the place you are
All my instincts, they return
And the grand facade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

In your eyes
The light the heat
In your eyes
I am complete
In your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
In your eyes
The resolution of all the fruitless searches
In your eyes
I see the light and the heat
In your eyes
Oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light
The heat I see in your eyes

Love, I don't like to see so much pain
So much wasted and this moment keeps slipping away
I get so tired of working so hard for our survival
I look to the time with you to keep me awake and alive

Lyrics by Peter Gabriel
© 1986 Geffen Records


(Perfection, that song.)


So, do YOU listen to music while you write?



~Lola
Monday, February 1, 2010

For the Love of the BookMobile!

Before I wax poetic about my sentimental attachment to my childhood love of the BookMobile...see this toy?? I SO want one!!! 
Is it not the sweetest bit of vintage ever?

Maybe the BookMobile Fairy magically will bring me one; leave it under my pillow while I sleep?



Okay, now on to the meaty bits...like....wait for it...
the CAMEL BOOKMOBILE!!!




Yes, for realz!!!
(in Kenya)
And it ROCKS!
The delightful and moving novel of the same name (The Camel Bookmobile by Marsha Hamilton) is worth your time.


There are even furry and fabulous Bibliophile BURROS, in Columbia. (I couldnt find a good photo)

Or howzabout this eco-friendly book-sharing goodness:


Or this more standard but no less fabulous Bookmobile from Greensboro NC...


Then there's the 2004 short story The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffennegger


In which they rock the Rock Lobster by the B-52s!! (see photo below)
You GOTTA love it for that alone, right?! (yes)



Getting right down to it, anything that gets the books TO the people, especially the children, and helps foster the love of books, especially in children, is magical. My kind of magical mystery bus to be sure.
Or camel.
Whatever.
Books on wheels or hooves.
It's all good.

Warmly,
Lola



May your pen be mighty

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Lola Sharp
My name is Lola. (I'm not a showgirl) Yes, L-O-L-A Lola. It's the least of my worries. Let's move on, shall we? This blog is mostly about my misadventures on the journey to publication and beyond. My passion for lush prose, quirky characters, art, music, literature, performing arts and anything creative will be a major theme here. This journey of mine will not always be pretty. Much like rubbernecking a train wreck, I know sometimes you just can't help but look at the carnage that is often my life. So strap on your neck brace, helmet and 5-point harness and come along for the ride! Licentia poetica.
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