Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How hard is it?

Yesterday I had the whole day set aside for implementing my editor’s revision notes.

It pretty much guaranteed that every time I got up to refill my water glass, I’d be distracted by something around the house that needed tidying.

I am by no means a neat freak. Truth be told, I’m a disgusting slob. I am, however, capable of hanging up my coat when I remove it. Pythagoras, on the other hand, has a different habit.

Here’s photographic evidence:
Seriously, how hard is it to open a closet door and grab a clothes hanger?

When I questioned him about it, he argued that he takes his jacket on and off at least five times a day in the winter, so doors and hangars are too time-consuming to contend with.

Before I get too smug about how much tidier I am than my husband, let’s take two steps back from that scene, shall we?
Yes, the wine I bought last week sits just ten easy steps from the closet where a lovely and capable wine rack waits to cradle my purchases. I could point out that some of the wines are whites intended for consumption in the next week, which would therefore relegate them to the fridge instead of the wine closet, but you don’t see me putting them there, either.

What’s my problem?

If I’m being honest, I’ll admit I do this with manuscripts sometimes. Last night while editing MAKING WAVES, I stumbled over a scene I’ve never been in love with. Though my editor hasn’t asked me to change anything about it, nor have my critique partners or agent, it’s just never felt perfect to me.

But have I done anything about it? No. Not yet, anyway.

How hard would it be? I'm working my way through edits right now, so this is my opportunity to make the change.

In my defense, there's always this fear in writing that you’ll start tugging at threads and pretty soon the entire garment will come unraveled and you’ll be standing there in your underwear.

In romance writing, that’s not always a bad thing.

I’ll admit I skipped the scene last night, but I’ve resolved not to move forward with the fun edits – the ones I’m enjoying so much it shouldn’t be legal – until I’ve done something to make myself happy with that scene.

Do you have niggling things in your life or your manuscript that aren’t terribly hard to fix, but you just don’t get around to it? Please share.

I should probably go put the wine away now. Well, I’ll keep out a couple bottles. I might need one for this scene.


Linda G. said...

Now I'm curious. I can't think of which scene that could possibly be.

I'm with you on feeling the sudden urge to straighten up when I'm faced with tough revisions, though. When I get truly desperate, I resort to cleaning toilets. If TG comes home to sparkling bathrooms, he knows I've had a sucky writing day.

Tammy Gallant said...

I'm a "I'll do it tomorrow" cleaner. Have you ever noticed that tomorrow never comes. Then you have friends show up with no notice and you run around shoving things in closets and under furniture.

Crap, I do that with writing too. I've got about 12 WIPs that I keep putting off until I finish the current one. Then a new idea hits me and off I go.

Is there a support group I could join?

Kerry Schafer said...

I'm just grateful my writing doesn't look like my house. Whatever genetic flaw made me a casual housekeeper got reversed in the writing department. I will revise until some act of God (I accidentally just typed Cat of God - which would be equally life shattering, I'm sure) drags me away. That said - on bad writing days - yep. I clean. And pay bills.

Debs Riccio said...

Ha ha - I'm with you all the way on everything here! I am constantly amazed at how, after pouring the last drop of anything out of a container (by the husband, obvs) the empty thing sits on a worktop until I.. yes ME... I... finally crack and open the back door, wind my arm around it, not even having to LEAVE the kitchen and plop it into the recycle bin. Exactly. HOW HARD IS IT?
Same goes for jackets... I can see a pattern here. And the pile of clothes worn once (therefore waiting for a 2nd outing no doubt) that is sitting on his bedside chair is probably already out of fashion by at least a decade by now!
*shameface* same with writing though; I must not get so flippin' 'precious' about killing off these scenes. It's ridiculous!

Teri Anne Stanley said...

At our house, everyone else leaves trash on the counters where ever they unwrapped their slice of cheese, pot pie thingy, pizza box. I gather these items together and put them in the "trash staging area" on the counter above the trash can (which usually needs to be emptied). Drives my husband nuts. "Why can't you make the three steps to the garbage in the garage?" Well, probably for the same reason you can't clean up your dang cheese wrappers!
Unless I have brain work to do that doesn't appeal to me. THEN I am all over that trash removal and toilet scrubbing. When I start organizing my sock drawer, then I know we are in serious trouble.

Danica Avet said...

I'm terrible about that myself. My coffee and end tables at home are littered with the books I've read over the last two weeks. They belong in my room (which just so happens to be the place I sleep!), but I just can't bring myself to put them in there. I have no idea why. I don't know if it's some kind of inner competitive streak that thinks I have to display my read books as trophies, or if I'm just lazy and absent-minded.

Hm. As for writing. I hate that. I'll agonize over some scenes until I eventually throw it in someone else's lap (or brain) and say "Help, it sucks".

Patty Blount said...

Have the opposite problem - but only as it pertains to my writing.

I sometimes cannot stop revising a scene when I really should leave it and come back to it later.

As for the housekeeping. Yeah. Not so neat. :)

Susan S said...

We won't start tugging the strings of my life, because although I have clean underwear on, they're not my best ones and I'd rather not unravel myself today....
...but I definitely have scenes like yours - ones that do their job all right, but don't sparkle like the ones around them. I admit to some "selective editing" too, from time to time, but this post makes me want to jump in and fix them. In fact, I think I'll give it a try. Thanks for the inspiration!

Shain Brown said...

You should put a hook on the inside of the closet door for his coat, that would remedy the homeless coat and you could tell him its a compromise between not having to use a hangar and putting his coat away. Now about the wine bottles, I got nothing, other than to leave them in the car until you are ready to drink them. Sorry, I am a guy we have this compulsive need to always try and fix things.

Matthew MacNish said...

Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow? Seems like a lot of blogs are posting about procrastinating today.

Also: You have a lovely place/home/condo.

lahn said...

Love this post. I have the same issues with manuscripts -- those scenes that nag at me until I get to them. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

That is the tidiest mess I've ever seen.

Ricky Bush said...

I agree with Suz. My wife's shoes are the only problem around my house. Five pair may end up piled in the living room until she needs to put a pair of them on and can't find them in her closet.

Lisa Potts said...

I so admire you. I tried to write a romance once and it was beyond awful. I finished the damn thing then put it where no one would ever find it. I do love reading them and can't wait for yours.

I know exactly what you mean by tugging at threads. Doubts creep in and I think one thing doesn't work, then before I know it the whole plot has collapsed upon itself leaving a massive black hole. I've found wine and dark chocolate make it all better.

Dr. Goose said...

My mind needs a good cleaning but you never know what could be under the topical grime. Like you said, might not want to pull on that thread.

Trisha Leigh said...

Yes. It's even more frustrating when you can't figure out exactly what's bothering you about a scene or how exactly to fix it. I have a section - a character, really - who has vexed me since the first draft. Strangely enough, I think my last beta reader helped me figure it out with an offhand comment. Can't wait to get back into it, but I promised my agent I wouldn't touch my MS again until she'd sent me notes. Bad Trisha. :)

Unknown said...

Tell your husband there are people in third world countries that wish they had a closet to put a coat into. I think I may be OCD. If you leave it, I'm picking it up. My husband keeps things neat too. Guess I'm lucky. He even drapes a towel over the sink when he shaves to keep the sink clean. I do love that man! As far as my writing goes though, I had a similar problem with my WIP. I just couldn't get past a certain chapter then after months of putting it off, I got to it and I'm actually glad I took so long. The time away gave me the new set of eyes I needed. Love it now.


Linda G, it's the scene with Cody and Juli fishing off the boat. Wanna come clean my bathrooms now?

Tammy, the support group meets at my house every Wednesday evening. Bring wine.

Kerry, "Cat of God," I like that! I've got three of them.

Debs, ah, yes. We have the same arrangement here with the clothes that aren't quite dirty enough to go in the hamper, but aren't quite clean enough to be hung up.

Teri Anne, let me know if you need me to slap anyone in your household. I'll do the same for you, K?

Danica, I'm HORRIBLE with leaving books all over the house. Seriously, I've usually got 4 or 5 I'm in the middle of reading that end up scattered everywhere.

Patty, so you're an editing neat freak, but not a housekeeping one?

Susan, I will make that scene shine. I WILL, DAMMIT!!

Shain, you know, that's not a bad idea. I might just try it. Thanks!

Matthew, thank you! It's a house, and we built it 5 years ago as our "dream home." Still feels pretty dreamy to me.

Lahn, I will defeat that scene eventually. I can feel it.

Suz, I'm not showing you the really filthy parts of the house :)

Ricky, I confess, I'm the same way with shoes.

Lisa, wine and dark chocolate make EVERYTHING better!

Dr. Goose, is "pull my thread" anything like "pull my finger?" If so, I'm not falling for that again.

Trisha, I'm on the brink of figuring it out with this scene, but still not 100% sure what doesn't work.

TC Mckee, will you come live with me?

Thanks for reading, guys!

Sierra Godfrey said...

I do this stuff all the time, with items around the house and also with my manuscript. It runs in the family. My mother is the same way. My all time favorite story is the one of her putting together a collage frame of pictures of me to send to her mother when I was like 5. It sat packaged and addressed next to the front door for THREE YEARS until a friend got so sick of seeing it that she took it to the post office for us and mailed it.

My grandmother was all, "Nice really out of date pictures."

Unknown said...

Don't get me started on Character-explained flashback. That is the one thing I hate writing about the most! I'm quite fine with everything else, but not that. The last time I had to write Character-explained flashback, I spent an entire week avoiding it ... *grumble, grumble* ...

Neurotic Workaholic said...

One of my manuscripts is at least thirty pages too long, but I still haven't gotten around to cutting them out. I know that I should, but like you said, I'm afraid that if I pull at one thread, it'll all come apart. I'm also afraid that I might cut the wrong pages or it'll negatively affect the story somehow if I cut too much.

Abby Minard said...

Oh I know what you mean- with the cleaning, anyway! I try so hard to keep the house clean, but things pile up. Its hard with a 5 year old too- I don't know how my dauther's friend's moms keep their houses spotless (I think they're aliens). With my ms, I think I'm a littel tidier- I don't have anyone else messing it up...just me. And I tend to clean as I go, which makes it much longer to write. But that's my process.