phase / teaching / writing

Evil Words

So I sent off my first copy of post-edit Phase back to my editor late, late Sunday night. Actually, let’s be honest, it was early morning because I was determined that it would be in her email inbox by Monday morning. Despite staying up way, way past my bedtime, I couldn’t sleep for quite a bit.

Word of Advice: Don’t expect to sleep well when immersed deep into your story/novel late at night. Give yourself an hour or two to decompress.

I am not the greatest writer. I know, you’re completely shocked by this epiphany, but it’s true. I have an awful lot to learn and improve upon. I consider myself more of a storyteller than a writer. My turns of phrase are not brilliant and my ability to craft sentences will not cause any reader to applaud. Unless something dramatically changes, I will never win the Booker.

And that’s okay. I am not in the company of A.S. Byatt or Kazuo Ishiguro. I like their stories, certainly. And often I feel increasingly smarter and more literary when I read such authors. But I’m not them, nor does my mind create those types of stories. Or writing prowess.

As I went through my editor’s comments and markings, I was, however, horrified to see how often I repeated words and how often I used was/were. I write my stories predominantly in first person point of view, so the narrator/protagonist talks to the audience. I suppose it comes from my theatre days. So the prose of my novels is written in a casual tone. You should be able to hear someone speaking like that.

Well, people of today’s world, we don’t speak so good.

Trying to eliminate was/were might have been the hardest thing I’ve done in my writing career (can you call it a career when you’re not getting paid for it?). Trying to find another verb and noun for ‘look,’ was up there. I’m just astonished at how much was repetitive because it’s something I catch in friends’ and students’ writing. Shame on me.

Now that I’ve chastised my abilities so harshly that they are hiding in the corner, afraid of my wrath, I also discovered something as I edited. I started Phase in the spring of 2009 before I got my agent, before I returned to England (that led me to my agent), before I even though I’d ever be teaching. It was in it’s most complete draft by fall of 2010, when it started the rounds to publishers. My discovery this past weekend is that I believe if I started the same story now, I’d write it differently. Not that I think Phase isn’t good. I’m pretty dang proud of it. I just think that if I started it today, it would sound different. I’ve learned a lot in the last two years about writing (having to teach it, even non-creative, has opened my eyes to so much).

I have a new story idea in the works. It’s so so early in the process that I probably have 100/200 of actual prose. Looking at what I have, it does sound different. It’s third person POV, sure, but even past that. I sound different, I guess. So, maybe, in years time, I will be a literary writer.

Won’t be holding my breath though. 🙂

SOTM: God Only Knows by the Beach Boys

© ecnewman, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

2 thoughts on “Evil Words

  1. Breathe! Breathe! And good luck to you! You’ve accomplished something – you’ve written a book! 🙂

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