Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Habits of a Super Successful Reviser

JK ROWLING ONCE SAID something about Harry Potter. I don't know. I'm told that having the first few words of a post be something search engines like helps draw traffic to a post. We'll see.

Regardless Saturday, Jan 25, 1:02 p.m. eastern time. I've been working on yet another revision of my never to be finished novella/novel (it's really close here) and I figured I'd take a break to show you how hard it is to actually revise something.

9:22 a.m. - I awake. Extremely late for me. I have been sleep deprived for weeks and it's finally caught up with me. I'd intended to have been working on my revisions for at least since 8 this morning. I'm already behind my daily goal.

9:26 a.m. - Crap, I remember that my son has to be at work at 10 this morning. No point in starting now. I decide to read instead.

9:46 a.m. - Double crap. I remembered I was supposed to have awoken my son. Who didn't get off work until 12:30 a.m. the previous night. I wonder if this is entirely legal for my underage son to work these hours. I decide to not rock the boat, but wake him up.

9:52 a.m. - How it can take a kid an hour and a half to get ready for school, but 6 minutes to get ready for work, is beyond me. We drive to his work in a blinding snowstorm, it's actually very pretty. The snow is like sand blowing across the road. It doesn't snow here that much, and we almost never, ever get the super cold, sand-like snow.

10:10 a.m. - I'm back. The wife is up. I tell her not to disturb me, I've got revisions to do. I also promise her that this will all be worth it when the sales of this book are bringing in an extra $5k a month.

10:12 a.m. - I recall that I haven't checked my sales totals recently. I take a peek. Turns out I have sold a copy of War Angel recently. Somehow, my least favorite story written continues to make consistent sales. Albeit, very slow sales, but still, much more consistent than my other stories.

10:16 a.m. - I look at story, I have characters working on a log cabin in the 18th century wilderness. I realize that they have no access to things like nails, or metal. I had already described a door and wondered how it would work with no hinges. Decide to look up building techniques for colonial era cabins.

10:33 a.m. - I've somehow ended up watching a video of a baby polar bear taking its first steps. It's so cute.

10:55 a.m. - Twitter is very interesting this morning. Did you know JFK's last words to his wife were something along the lines of "Don't wear those glasses."?

11:16 a.m. - Realized being alone in the house with the missus is an opportunity not to be wasted.

11:18 a.m. - Back at computer. Ready to work. I haven't had breakfast yet. I decide on a V8. Trust me, it's the calm before the storm. I'll probably eat a whole camel and 17 decorative soaps before the day is over.

11:24 a.m. - Back to story research. So, I've decided that the cabin was made in the Swedish style. I decide all that door description has to go. No hinges, no sophisticated tools to craft anything that intricate. Unless my tough guys can punch a piece of wood until it agrees to become a working door it won't be happening.

11:26 a.m. - I'm pretty sure I missed something with the research. I decide to go back to make sure I'm not missing something.

11: 34 a.m. - Hey! Someone posted a comment on my post at the Indie Writers Monthly blog from early this morning (it was scheduled already, I didn't work on it this morning). I check it out.

11:37 a.m. - Comment isn't that special. But then I get a vague sense of guilt because I should have commented on some comments somewhere. And then I wonder if I've visited back everyone I was supposed to this week. I decide there's no time like the present.

11:51 a.m. - I'm so hungry. But can't worry about that now. I have a story to work on. Except, I'm not sure I can focus on a story without eating. It is almost lunch time. I've decided to go get a hamburger when...

11:52 a.m. - My mother calls and volunteers to make a stew for lunch. It sounds amazing and invite her over to use our kitchen, because I'm lazy. Also, I can work on my story while the wife and the mother cook. It reminds me of something else I learned the other day, the Old English for 'Bride' means cook. I remind my wife of this.

11:53 a.m. - My jaw hurts. Wife disagrees with history.

12:02 p.m. - Wife decides to take nap. Probably in retaliation to the 'bride' comment. My stew will have to be eaten later.

12:26 p.m. - I realize I have no idea where the past 24 minutes have gone. Then I remember that I used my phone to surf the web and check emails and twitter. It's all identical in content to my computer, but formatted differently. Don't ask me to explain it, it's a mystery to me why I can lose 20 minutes this way. Stupid phone.

12:28 p.m. - Am worried that story protag is way too passive. His call to action comes near the story's climax. I realize I've no hope of telling *this* story any other way. After two plus years of work, am thinking of chucking it.

12:34 p.m. - Can't chuck it. I've sworn I'm doing this. I'll just make this character aggressively passive. You know, I don't know. I suck. I hate writing. I should watch a movie.

12:45 p.m. - Tweet something about the day's productivity:
12:55 p.m. - Realize that I have no posts of my own scheduled for the upcoming week. Remember that I enjoy doing these diary posts, and decide to take a break from working and work on this instead.

1:57 p.m. - I've still not eaten. I've been doing this post for one hour. Mostly fact checking. Did I really comment on a blog at 11:34? The timestamp on the blog disagrees with me. Whatever. Screw that. I'm telling you I did do it at 11:34. Done.

AND THAT MY FRIENDS, is exactly why I love doing revisions, and why it's been this one story for the past 2 plus years.

"Hmmm... a 2000 year-old demon falls in love with a 16 year-old girl.  Science tells me the plot is perfect."


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Dude, the 11:16 to 11:18 time scares me. Some things should not be rushed.
How do you feel about first drafts? Want to trade? You write my current manuscript and I revise yours?

Deborah Walker said...

That's funny.

I know this was tongue in cheek but I read something similar by a big name author. It's like this, but every time you was mucking around, he was writing.

*laughs* Just saying. You ought to get that Freedom (is it? can't remember the name) thing that stops you going on the internet for periods of time.

Also I command you not to do a return visit to my blog. I haven't posted for 10 days anyway. Nothing to see... move on

Jo said...

I had the same concern as Alex. Not long enough to devote to wife. And eat for goodness sake, that's very important.

Oh, I didn't visit because of JK Rowling.

Pat Dilloway said...

Revision does suck but at least it helps your productivity in everything else while you do everything to avoid editing.


The Jaw hurting make me cry with tears of joy. So totally worth it.

S. L. Hennessy said...

Awesome opening line by the way. Let me know if it works. I hate revisions. Seriously hate them. Necessary evil.

Tony Laplume said...

I was hoping this timeline was also in there somewhere. Very meta, Rusty. And I now totally understand how your main character could be so passive...

Brinda said...

I'd rather write first drafts of ten books than revise one.

mooderino said...

Good work. Tell the wife everything's on schedule for greatness. I'm going to try and work in the words 'Justin Beiber' into the opening of my next blog post. As soon as I finish researching what a Justin Beiber is.

Moody Writing

Andrew Leon said...

Well, I won't re-visit the two minute thing since you already had so many comments about it.

I remember that tweet!

Briane P said...

This was awesomely funny. Did you ever get your stew? Your hamburger? It's a cliffhanger!

I've always said what makes or breaks a story for me is whether I find the way they hung the door believable. So thank God you are focusing on that.

DO NOT downplay the idea of punching something until it becomes the thing you want. This is essentially how I build everything. You may think I'm joking, but you haven't seen the boards I bullied into being shelves in the walk-in closet that I'm absolutely no closer to explaining how I got it done on my own blog.

Anyway, I am like you. I finished a story the other day, Saturday, and decided Sunday I would definitely start revising it. Total revisions so far: I have added page numbers to the manuscript.

Rusty Carl said...

@Andrew - 2 minutes is a very long time. I checked with the missus. She said it was the best 120 seconds she had ALL DAY!

@Deborah - I am aware of the software that will block the internet. I'd need it for my phone too. Thanks for the permission to not visit back right away. I'll try not to wast the few moments extra I've gained.

@Jo - The missus and I have other times too.

@PT - That is a good point. You're right. The best productivity I have in all other things comes when I'm revising. Huh.

@David - I'm glad.

@SL - Thanks, I will share numbers about visits soon. So far today it's been about average.

@Tony - Thanks for noticing the meta-ocity of my post.

@Brinda - Me too. Actually, I think I have.

@Mooderino - Trust me, I've been telling her for years that it's just around the corner.

@Andrew - thanks for withholding... I didn't realize that one little line would be so well noticed.

@Briane - Stew was served at around 4 O'Clock. It was glorious, and it there was about 15 pounds of it made. I've eaten about half of it to date. And I'd love to bully inanimate objects into assembling or shaping themselves into things I want them to be. Oh, and page numbers for you? I have gotten sophisticated enough to just have the computer add them in for me now.

Tina said...

O.M.G I so much needed to laugh after the sheer hell I've been through lately. This is the story of my writing life. Except I don't have a wife, I have sick kids. And some idiot at school was messing around during weightlifting and ended up breaking my son's finger as they collided. Collateral damage is a bitch. Especially when it's your sweet boy who is trying to hold it all together with a total not worth even complaining about English teacher which really pisses me off since I used to be an English teacher and she's sucking every creative instinct out of these kids and he used to be a writer. I have notebooks full of his stories from second grade on. Now he won't write. Period. Phew. I haven't visited many blogs in about...I can't remember so this is probably a totally inappropriate comment but what the heck, at least I'm here and I totally enjoyed this peek into your life.
As to adding JK Rowling to your opening line...lemme know if that works. Briane, as you well know, starts his post titles with the word sexy (on one of his million blogs). I'm working on better titles...and better everything. Sigh. Thanks for brightening my day with this post and your comment at my place today. You rock, my friend.
Tina @ Life is Good
A to Z Team @ Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2014
@TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

M Pax said...

Are those decorative soaps delicious? And that's a great tweet. I've certainly had those days.

Andrew Leon said...

Which reminds me, the last book I tried to read that had any kind of focus about a door and how it was made was the first assigned book I didn't finish reading. It was by Hawthorne. I don't read Hawthorne, now.

Maybe you don't want to talk about building doors.

Cherie Reich said...

LOL! Your revising sounds a lot like how I start out revising. Lots of website visits and general procrastination before I buckle down and get to it.

Maurice Mitchell said...

This is great Rusty. The trials of a reviser. How come you didn't link to the bear video? ;)

Heather Holden said...

LOL, glad I'm not the only one who finds it easier to procrastinate than be productive... XD

Cindy said...

So funny! I should do one of these if you don't mind me stealing the idea. It would come out different.

And War Angel sells because it's not science fiction.

Christine Rains said...

Hilarious! My revisions sometimes go that way too. I don't like doing them, so anything else online looks better. And those 2 minutes with the missus can't have been spent as you intended, and if they were, not as she did! ;)

Arlee Bird said...

If I could ever escape from the internet maybe I could do some revisions. Or maybe even a first draft. Let me know if the search engine experiment worked.

An A to Z Co-Host
Tossing It Out

A Beer For The Shower said...

Your wife is a saint. If this was me, my timeline would be "wife asks if I'm done yet." Followed by "wife is bored, I haven't talked to her in 5 minutes. Asks me if I'm done so I can entertain her." Then "Wife sits down next to me, keeps tapping foot in annoyance while I read the same sentence 20 times over." The story ends with me taking her to a movie and zero words getting written or revised that day.

Jay Noel said...

Ha! Revising for me is like going to the dentist. I know I need to do it, and that I'll be better after I go, but I just keep putting it off.

That's why I need deadlines to get my rear in gear.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

It's been awhile since I"ve been by, Rusty, and apparently hadn't yet followed you with my new url. Your schedule is pretty entertaining, sounds a lot like mine lol.