Knowing how closely our emotional and physical health are tied it is no surprise to me that I came down with a vicious cold the week I pushed to finish Rafe Keyn, nor that it continues as I keep working.
My diminished mental capacity makes creativity difficult, but I can still read the printed manuscript and find obvious typos and make other notes as they occur to me.
Eating well, getting my rest and plenty of fluids. I wish those fluids included rye whiskey and a local craft brew, but our water is good and still my favorite drink.
It’s a writer’s nature to assume that what pours from our fingertips will be the brilliant story in our heads. When we read a book, we see the polished outcome, not the deadly trudge it took to create it, and when it’s our turn we forget.
Instead of polished prose streaming from our minds, it’s more akin to the green soup steaming in the concrete waste canal in a springtime milking barn back home in Wisconsin. Not even usable as fertilizer.
At least, that’s what we think.
Truth is, it’s probably 80% excellent, and all we see is the 20% green soup.
The 20% is 80% easy to fix. That is, once we dig in (to the words, not the mucky green soup) we find that most of what’s less than stellar in that last fifth is easy to fix.
Before you start thinking about another kind of fifth, do the math: 80% + (80% of 20%) = 96% done.
Now you’re down to the 4% that’s excruciating.
That’s where writing happens: the choices you make, and the fervor and grit to slog through that 4%.
No, you never get to 100%. If you can cure another 80% you’ll be at 99.2% which is closer than any of us have a right to expect.
Fair warning: if you are committed to the spontaneous pantsing version of writing, please don’t read this. You won’t benefit, I won’t benefit. If you’re open to having assumptions challenged, read on. To the end. Don’t read the first 80% and quit or you won’t get the point.
What is a House?
Though wildly different around the world, all houses share certain characteristics. Let’s explore the ins and outs.
Roof — Without a covering, it’s a yard, not a house.
Floor — It may be dirt, but it’s not water or air. If your residents are standing in a pool up to their waist, or swinging in hammocks 30′ aboveground, you’ve built something other than a house.
Privacy — Roof but no walls = carport or equivalent.
Toilet — Yes, in some parts of the world this is not inside the house. If you live in one of those places, you may dispute this requirement.
Services — Electricity. Running water. Drains. See above note for quibbles.
Egress — Without a door suitable for us humans to enter through, it’s not a house, it’s something else.
Lighting — Even if it’s windows and skylights, there’s a way for light to come in.
You may dispute any of these if you choose to live in the house yourself.
If you plan to sell the house, or even sell time using the house (called “renting”) I defy you to leave any of these out and still succeed.
Elizabeth Spann Craig shares an excellent outline of her method for rewriting. It’s short, but involves a lot. While writing should be done straight from the heart, rewrites and revisions will involve a bit more of the structural orderly stuff done best by other parts of your brain.
I’ll soon be doing the rewrite for the sequel to Through the Fog. Once I finish it.