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bear by san

December 2021



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bear by san


Some writers get closure. Others don't. Specifically, or so it seems to me from observing them in their native state, some writers can fiddle with a story forever, tweak it, revise it from the ground up, change things and break things and make new things and so forth. And they enjoy it; they don't have closure on their stories.

Me, I finish a plot arc, get it as close to the picture in my head as I an get it, revise it as best as I can, and I never want to see the damned thing again. It's gone. It's a river that's moved on.

I wonder if there's a link to writers who write for catharsis (like me) and writers who write for whatever reason you sane people write for.

1074 words on Blood & Iron, and page 390 of 584, and end of scene. I think I'll do line edits until I hit the point of the next insertion, and then play stupid windows games. Or read Tolstoy. Or something.

So do your duty, boys, and join with pride
Serve your country in her suicide
Find the flags so you can wave goodbye
But just before the end even treason might be worth a try
This country is to young to die

I declare the war is over
It's over, it's over

--Phil Ochs


I like to write to remember myself, to read myself. Sometimes I don't know what it's REALLY about until six months, a year later. Sure, thre's the plot, the image patterns, the craft of it. And beneath that there's an idea that is stuck like a grain of sand in an oyster that grows the pearl around it as I try to figure it out.

I couldn't write the same story I wrote five years ago. So going back and looking over what I've done is a way of learning myself, the parts I'm too close to see. I guess for me that's a bridge between getting it out of the way and never finishing it.
Surrre. I wrote a big answer to this, and it got eaten. Alas.

I reread older stuff too, and am often surprised by how much better it is than I remember. *g*
I often break things when I try to revisit them. Revision on the clarification/tidying/explaining/making clear/making bright level is ongoing, but significant story changes, or even trying to white-paper a story idea I wrote before and didn't get right--it rarely works.

I have a few stories that I've managed to keep twiddling closer and closer to done over the years, but most of the ones I didn't succeed with when they were 'done' simply wind up in the trunk.

I'm not a my-words-are-sacred writer; I gut and refit and cut and add and start over from scratch pretty heavily when I'm in draft. And when I come back in a year or three, I can usually see things that could be better.

The problem is that the story has become dead to me by that point. It's no longer interesting in the slightest--it's gone, I'm done, it's as much not my story any more as that green cheese in the back fo the fridge is not lunch. SO I can do technical twiddling, but the kind of changes I'm working on now, say, where I have to change the story and make it grow... I might as well be doing work for hire.

On the other paw, I'll *do* it, and I'll do it to the best of my ability, because after all I'm supposed to be a professional. But I might as well be writing proceedure manuals for the amount of joy it gives me.

I think I'm jealous of you. I'm looking forward to writing being fun again, once I finish this.
"Me, I finish a plot arc, get it as close to the picture in my head as I an get it, revise it as best as I can, and I never want to see the damned thing again. It's gone. It's a river that's moved on."

Yep, I'm the same way. I worry about breaking things, too. And it's just not the same, coming back to a story written weeks or months ago. I don't write to exorcise the demons or anything like that, but while I'm writing a story, I'm in love with it, I'm thinking about it all the time, it's a new toy, bright, shiny, fascinating. But when it's finished, it's finished, and I'm on to the next story. Coming back later, it's hard, maybe impossible to get back into that old frame of mind.


I've got a couple of stories that have returned with helpful comments from editors, and I've got some ideas of how they could be changed, so they might get more love the next time. I worry about breaking them. But maybe I should worry more about not making them as good as they can be. If they're getting rejected multiple times, they're already broken, doofus. For example, I've got a story that I really liked, that most of my critters liked on the orkshop, but that has been bounced by most of the majors. SH just told me they liked it, but it's got problems, see. I really should go back and try to fix those problems before sending the little minstrel boy out into battle again.
I don't think I write for catharsis, but I'm with you on the never wanting to see the thing again.

(Need to figure out how to get to that stage *after* finishing the revisions.)
Sane people write?

I wouldn't say I write for catharsis; there are stories I have a quite visceral need to tell, and I tell them, but whether it actually gets some emotion "out" or taken care of is a total crapshoot. Sometimes it's more like picking a scab than having a good cry.

I'm having a hard time editing my third novel, though, because it doesn't have an external spur for the edits right now, and it doesn't have the internal momentum it did when I was first drafting and revising it. It needs improvement if it's ever to find an editor in the first place, but making myself do it is worse, far, far worse, than pulling teeth, for which we at least have anaesthetic these days.
Sane people write?

As far as I'm concerned, the argument could be made that only those who write *are* sane.
Hmmmm, she said skeptically. I really don't think I'd buy that argument in any form. It seems like it takes sanity's "similar to one's own parameters" line a bit too far.
I have probably 20 unfinished novels that I can pick at and wander through and treat like they'll never be done. I have one I consider finished because I wrote stuff happening from a beginning to an ending, but I have absolutely no desire to go back and make it marketable, revise it for consistency or coherency, or even just read the whole thing.

Now that I've thought about it, that strikes me as peculiar.

Considering that my definition of sanity is something like 'the general area that we agree on as the norm', with 'we' being a variable factor, I'm probably not the person to ask on the other issue. :))
I neither write for catharsis nor twiddle endlessly. :) I mean, yes, inevitably, if I go back and re-read something I wrote N months or years ago I see stuff I can fix and wand to fix 'em, but that's a matter, for me at least, of learning more about what I'm doing. It's not a compulsion to keep at a story forever. I get done and move on, mostly. :)