Kill the Little Darlings

Some genius advice you just might need to hear

As writers, we are at risk of falling in love with our own cleverness. The “cool” idea, the super amazing mind-blowing twist at the end. We get so caught up in how smart we are that we fail to see that we are our own worst enemy.

via Trouble With Your Plot? Three Reasons to Kill Your Little Darlings — Kristen Lamb’s Blog

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Rewrites

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Is there ever a point when an author will read their own work without making a single change?  I know I can’t do it now.  I keep thinking I will.  I print out a giant copy (after the giant copy with all the edits) so I can enjoy it.  I open it again and BAM I find something I can change.  Sometimes it’s something little, like a word I could replace.  Sometimes it’s something big and I stress about it for months, trying to decide if it’s worth it to change all that.

Does that ever stop?  Can J.K. Rowling pick up a copy of Harry Potter and flip through it without thinking of something she would change?  At some point is the only way to stop yourself from the constant rewrite to stop reading the work, and accept it as it is on print and in your head?

I’d love to hear your input on this topic!

Back to Reality (Again)

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My brain right now…

Another week off down and I’m staring down the barrel of the first day back.

Actually this one is different than the last time I wrote to you about time off.  This time I’m returning to the magical fourth quarter.  The one where things start to seem possible and refreshing again.  The one where you actually start to see some of that amazing growth you’ve been working toward all year.  The one where the kids are starting to get that nervous excitement for next year.  The one with the countdown.

Of course, I haven’t officially started the countdown yet.  Mostly due to the fact that I haven’t taken the time to pull out the calendar and actually count it.  I should probably do that…but it’s pretty far down the to-do list.

Now I get to head back to school.  I get to pack up all the materials I dragged home for my week off and never really touched.  I get to lug everything back to campus and stress out about how far behind I am at work because I chose to write and paint my house.  I had a relaxing week…but that is over now.  Oh, and did I mention we’re coming back to parent-teacher conference week?

Whew, there’s the stress.  I knew it would come!

Have a good week, everyone!  I know I’ll try to.

Things I Learned While Painting…

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My actual freshly painted living room (you can also see the kitchen in the background)

Somewhere around six years ago (a number I arrived at by remembering one of my children was an infant at the time and truly hoping it wasn’t ten years ago because that would just be sad) I decided I wanted to paint the interior of my house.

We bought everything we needed for the project.  Paint, painters tape, rollers, edging tool, paint brushes, plastic for covering things, trays to hold paint…you get the idea.  I’m sure it was a lot of money spent, I can’t really remember.  Anyway one day while my infant was napping and my husband was at work (I think) I decided to get started on the kitchen.  I taped off everything, I painted the walls.  Then, hours later, I taped off the walls and painted the trim.  It looked great.  I was tired and sweaty, but it looked great.  I remember pulling off the blue painters tape, anticipation at the crisp lines filling me with joy.  Only that’s not what happened.  The blue tape pealed away and revealed all the places it had allowed the red trim color to bleed over onto the freshly painted wall.  It’s safe to say I lost the spark there.  I was so frustrated.

I’m a little ashamed to admit I waited approximately five years to do something about that (if the earlier math holds up).  About a year ago (thanks, Timehop) I decided I needed to finish painting and fix the kitchen paint job.  A little research told me it was the stupid blue tape to blame for my ragged lines (spend the money, buy the green stuff).  While waiting for my stove to be delivered I painted one wall of the living room.  I did it the same way, taped off the trim and painted the wall.  Taped off the wall and painted the trim.  The new tape did a MUCH better job.  The lines were crisp and satisfying.  But then we got busy.  Like really, really busy.  I never had time to finish the rest.

So this Spring Break I decided to do something about it.  My sister and I have teamed up and we are finishing the entire job.  It’s 8 AM on the third day and I can finally see that we just may have it done today.  For sure it will be done this week.  I’m excited and I’m ready for it to be done.  But I’m taking a quick minute to share what I have learned while painting.  So if you’re still with me after this long setup…here’s what I’ve learned.

My sister and I make a good team.  It took a lot of years spent screaming, door slamming, and generally making each other miserable but as adults we really do work well together.  The setting down of a brush to stretch or handle the kids only to have the other person pick it up and just keep going really rocks.  So does both people working a project having that “holy cow, I’m done for the day” moment at the same time.

I’m good at the little details. Taping was probably my number one contribution to this project, once we got good tape.

My sister is more patient than I am.  For this reason she is better with the darker colors.  The ones that have to be applied with a slow, careful hand in order to not be streaky.

My children are not good painters.  They want to be.  They think they are.  But unless you want to come behind them and fix it, don’t hand them the paint brush (or roller).

I hate paint rollers.  Don’t get me wrong, I love how much area they cover quickly.  I just hate how they send little paint particles all over everything nearby (like your hair, your eyes, and your clothing).

The devil is in the details.  Pictures have to come down, cover plates have to be removed, everything that you don’t want paint on has to be taped or covered, and it all takes a really long time.

Second coats make all the difference.  Dark colors looked kind of light until the second coat, and then I loved the color.  Light colors looked almost uneven until the second coat, and then I loved the color.

Even when you think you’re done…you’re not.  Clean up is insane.  It may actually be easier to clean up after your children have friends over.  You have to rinse out everything that held paint for an absurd amount of time.  One second too short and you’ll have hard edge bristles next time that are basically useless.  You have to let the paint dry and take all that tape down.  Then you have to put all the furniture back.  Honestly between set up and clean up, the real painting part takes almost no time at all.

I hate painting.  Actually I love the brush strokes and the quiet moments.  I hate all the prep work.  I also hate the cleaning afterwards.  Too much work.

Speaking of work, I should probably get back to it.  Wish me luck!

A Poem

It’s coming…

I can feel it creeping in each day,

burying me slowly.

The doubt.

Am I good enough for this?

Are the stories good enough?

Should I stop trying to edit,

stop trying to revise,

bury them in a drawer?

Should I let the blogging cease?

Am I good enough for this?

Am I good enough?

Can I shake off the dregs of doubt trickling down on my head,

the ones quoted from rejection letters past?

Can I rise above it?

Am I good enough?