Editing, When You’re Four

The other day, my four-year-old overheard me telling my husband I have a lot of work to do to edit my latest NaNo novel. Always helpful and convinced he can do anything (and be the best at it), he piped up, “I’ll edit it for you, Mommy.”

I said sure and thanked him for his help. A moment later, he spoke up again.

“What’s editing?”

Don’t we all feel that way sometimes? I have 50,000 words that I’m sure aren’t in the right order, and most of which probably won’t even stay on the page. If there are strict rules to editing, I haven’t figured them out. It’s a layered process of cutting what isn’t helping the whole and adding in other pieces to make each line sing. It’s push and pull. It’s frustrating. It’s hard to know when you’re finished. But it’s a necessity.

Before editing, all I have is a first draft. That’s something commendable, for sure, but the “first” part sticks out to me. It will probably be months before I can put “final” on this draft. Often, the time goals I set are too ambitious. But every time I sit down to work on it, I get a bit closer.

Sure, there are days it seems that handing it off to my little guy might not be such a bad idea. What I really need, though, is his attitude—that I can do anything, and because this novel is mine and mine alone, I am going to be best editor for it.

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Camp NaNo

This year, two of my goals were to repeat challenges I completed and enjoyed last year.

One is running a half marathon. I have my sights set on one in September, with training to start at the end of June.

The other is NaNoWriMo, which . . . I just finished! But wait, it’s not November!?!?

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April is one of the Camp NaNo months the site offers. Thank goodness! While, of course, I could sit down and commit to thirty days of novel writing starting any day of the year, I love the little bar graph on the site that tracks my progress. Small joys, big results.

Today is a day of celebration! I have a third novel on the page, so to speak, and I didn’t have to wait another six months to get it there. There’s a ton of editing work to do on this—the chapters aren’t even in order—but I’m looking forward to that challenge. It’s good to have it out of my head, and it’s taken some twists I can’t wait to push and pursue.

To sum up, current novel standing looks like this:

Novel A: agented, rejected on first round of submissions, major rewrite paused for birth of child

Novel B: November 2014 NaNo novel, editing not yet begun

Novel C: April 2015 Camp NaNo novel, editing to commence mid-May, after a short story edit for writers’ group

And now, it’s time to make dinner.

Stay tuned for another interview coming your way very soon . . .

Return to Blogging

My late winter hiatus turned out much longer than expected. But then, it was a long winter—too much sickness, the passing of my grandmother, and more heavy snow than I would have liked.

But now we are here in spring. I have a beautiful little girl, whom my bigger boys love dearly. My first contraction came at our local library, which I hope says something about her interests as she grows. In the few weeks after she was born, I spent a lot of time in our rocking chair snuggling, nursing, and reading. A few of my favorite things, you might say, and good inspiration for new writing projects.

Currently, I am two-thirds of the way through a CampNaNoWriMo WIP that is pulling together a lot of ideas I’ve had over the last few years, as well as surprising me with a bunch of new ones. It may sound crazy to be writing right now, but life has slowed down so much since my girl was born that my brain has had a good deal of space to be creative. Must find a way to keep this up as she gets bigger!

Here on the blog, there are a couple of interviews on the horizon, one I hope to post later this week or early next. Freelance work is up and running, and my writers’ group is active and well.

This spring feels like a new chapter in so many ways, more than normal. I hope it’s that way for you, too, and that there are exciting pages coming your way soon.

Back to work!

Happy Consequences of NaNoWriMo

It’s nearly halfway through December, and I am still on a NaNo high. Apparently, the results are long lasting, especially when I consider the unexpected consequences of being a first-time NaNo winner.

 

The cookies and coffee I shared with my husband the night I finished (a day early, because there wasn’t the time on Sunday) were the first leg of the celebration, and undoubtedly the best. But in the days that followed, I also received a congratulatory Facebook message from my kindergarten teacher, who still holds a special place in my heart. Turns out, Mrs. B. remembers the stories I wrote those many years ago, complete with “inventive spelling,” which I hope has been remedied by this point.

 

Another bonus to the experience was a resurgence in interest in Nighttime Ninja, one of my favorite picture books to read to my kids. When I won the word sprint at my local kick-off party, the prize was a ninja hood, supposedly intended to be a “thinking cap” of sorts when we hit a wall. I took it home and used it to reread the story, which had languished too long on the shelf. My younger son, especially, fell back in love with the book, and has asked for it many times since. We always have to find the hood first, and we take turns wearing it.

 

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Now I am enjoying just knowing that I have two full manuscripts in my repertoire! I didn’t make any solid writing plans for December. I am enjoying the rest after a determined month-long focus.

 

I intend to start the new year with a literary bang, and am beginning to gear up to revise my previous novel in January. My writing time the next few weeks will be devoted to note-taking and editing my synopsis to figure out how to solve the problems my rejections illuminated. I am encouraged by the progress I made in a single month, and am already looking forward to next year’s NaNo.

 

But in the meantime, I have a heck of a lot of editing to do . . . and ninjas to read to, and Christmas cookies to eat.

Winner’s Circle

This morning, my husband I took our kids to a local Turkey Trot. It was the first time our four-year-old ran an official race (and the first time the younger one got to come along for the ride). It was a mile, which is a lot when you’re about three feet tall. Something like four minutes in, he told me, “Mommy, this is a long race!” My husband and I looked at each other. Kid had no idea.

 

For the next fifteen minutes, we walked and ran and ran and walked at his pace. Please keep in mind that it was thirty-two degrees outside. At one point he was talking a lot about when we were going to get to the end. We told him to focus on enjoying the running and not worry about the end; we would get there when it was time.

 

Sooner than I expected, the finish line was in sight. He wanted to walk, but we encouraged him to at least run through the finish line. We mentioned the Oreos we’d seen there earlier as motivation, and that seemed to help—again, thirty-two degrees. The smile on his face when he ran through the gate was priceless. We each received a little white ribbon as a token of our accomplishment. We walked to the aforementioned Oreo station, and he said, “Mommy, I didn’t think I was going to win, but I did!” We came in just about last, but he didn’t notice. He didn’t care. He had run his race, and that was what mattered.

 

Until tonight, I didn’t understand why those who completed National Novel Writing Month were called winners. Didn’t just one person win a race, a game, a challenge?

 

But then I hit 50K (actually a little over to make up for any discrepancy in my word processor’s word count). I submitted my novel and had my count validated. And I felt, for real, like a winner.

 

So now, my husband is making me a latte. Celebratory cookies are ready and waiting. And I am so grateful for the challenge of NaNoWriMo, for everyone who cheered me on along the way, and for the rough draft I thought would take five years to write, but was completed in a mere four weeks.

 

A winner, indeed!