Friday, August 6, 2010
Gates of Hell
First Ring: Limbo
The vanity ring—or limbo... you can even pretend you are NOT yet editing... this is the cleaning up that needs to be done so you don't humiliate yourself when you send it to your critique partners... it is basic typos, grammar, large gaping wound clean up—the kind of corrections that hurt you not at all—there is little pain involved. It is superficial and frankly pointless, as everything will need to be cleaned again. And again. And again. But we have some modicum of self respect, and don't want our fellow writer's to realize the bonehead typing that occurs when the kids are fighting and the husband is nagging. The punishment at this level is in being able to see both how sweet success would BE, and how FAR we have to go to get there.
This is where you hope your hotter than hot critique partners are the answer for everything—that a wave of their wand will provide the approval you need and it is all enjoyment from here. Sadly, if they are good critique partners (and they are, or you wouldn't have chosen them) they are going to point out all your flaws and will NOT tell you how to fix them, but just what needs fixing. This will send you into a spiral of depression.
Third Ring: Gluttonous
This is where you indulge in the fantasy of how satisfying this book might be, if only you could put in all the missing parts... sadly, it is more about over-indulgence—adding content on a whim, because you just want to be sated, but nothing seems to do the trick.... Oh, poor empty soul...
Fourth Ring: Avaricious and Prodigal
At this point you begin to worry about what will be most impressive. You pull out all your books on symbolism, story structure... read a few passages in Anna Karenina, hoping it will rub off. You are seeing some light, and it is a shiny, nobel prize kind of light. You are SURE you are all that, or could be, with just the right turn of phrase.
You decide what is necessary is a lot of angry torturing of your characters—they don't suffer enough and it is THEIR fault your book is not good. You feel compelled to add in some torture scenes, infidelity. More tension? I'LL GIVE YOU TENSION!
Sixth Ring: Heretical
You realize it is CRAP. YOU are crap! Your book is a false idol and you've given it power it should never have. It is time to exorcize the beast—just put it out of its misery. You contemplate the shredder.
Seventh Ring: Violent
Say it with me: KILL YOUR DARLINGS! It is time to just cut out the crap and slash up the bad blood. There is a lot of this that just needs to GO and you need to be ruthless!
Eighth Ring: Fraudulent
You briefly contemplate rewording everything to mock the style of the latest best seller. There was a time you would have mocked nineteenth century greats, but everybody knows none of them could sell a book in this day and age.
Ninth Ring: Treachery
This is where your novel jumps up and b*tchslaps you and says “HA! Joke's on YOU, sucker!” Fortunately, if you can wrestle your novel to the ground at this point, chances are high that you can identify the treacherous pieces.
So I am ready for my descent... if by ready, I mean, have purchased a back up half gallon of rum. I've put my golden snitch on a string, to keep reminding me I can soar, if I just don't get discouraged. I've lined up my peeps, for the back-up function I desperately need them to perform (thank you ladies—ALL of you—you are superstars!) And I will make it out the other side... (never mind that ANOTHER editing project will follow)
Normally I tweet or FB share these, but skip the blog part—not normally big on contests, but this one has some loot I really want, so... Lola Sharp, who is a kindred spirit (I suspect she is actually a Tart) is giving away some stuff... so go check it out, and if you decide to follow her (which you should) tell her I sent you... She just went to Maine, so she has some GROOVY Stephen King-y stuff (including 'On Writing') and a magnet that looks like Pennywise *shivers *