SUNDAYS WITH SHARON: Polishing The Book
Polishing a book for some is harder than writing it the first time. I write fairly fast, and when I was first starting out, I sent an email to Diana Gabaldon, asking her about her writing process. She was gracious to answer me. Aside from her writing into the wee hours of the morning, beginning after her family had gone to bed (I relate now but at the time it gave me a heart attack), her greatest tip to me was in the polishing.
“That's where the real jewels, richness and texture of the book happens,” she said. Because I don't read very fast, editing can sometimes be a challenge. It's taken me a long time to accept that my reading skill level is a disability. I can write like the wind, but editing? Hard to do. I've struggled with reading my whole life. It affected my career, what courses I could take in college. I understand what others feel who are handicapped in some way, because I am too. I am floored when readers say they read 1000 books a year. I'd be lucky to read 1000 books in my lifetime.
I get easily distracted by anything. My chickens used to distract me. My garden. The dogs. I usually have to write to instrumental music, and only certain kinds of music work. I like candles. I dress in loose clothing and put my hair up. I have my computer glasses that don't give me a headache. I wash my hands a lot and wear scented hand cream. I wear socks. I drink lots of water and coffee. I have to work at my focus as if I was adding a table of 7 figure numbers. That's how hard it is for me sometimes.
Today I was challenged by the guy who came to work on our brick edging on the patio. He had one of those industrial grinders working from about 8:30 on. Around 11:00 I was seeing double. So I packed up my computer and worked down at the office for a few hours.
I rewrote a couple of love scenes and that helped. When I stay connected to the passion of the story, the heart of the love story, which is always about the couple, and usually about the relationship as well as the sex that describes their relationship, I can use that energy to finish and work on the rest of the book. In fact, in some of my books, I write the heaviest love scene first, to see how the couple develops organically on paper. I love to feel them evolve through my writing.
There is no rushing of this process, just like Diana Gabaldon told me years ago. I'm patient. It takes as long as it takes. I never give up or abandon a project. But I like to think that the harder ones to finish are also my better books.
We think the creative process should just “flow” and writers “get their muse” on. Nope. Sorry to say, it's just hard work, with a lot of discipline and focus. I guess I would call it Intentional Creativity.