Thursday, July 22, 2010
Yesterday we took Madison and several friends to Lake Lanier Islands Waterpark to celebrate her 9th birthday that had occurred on June 21st, Summer Solstice. So yes, we were a month late. She still loved it though so I was glad to see her having a great time.
I will now attempt to compare waterslides and waterparks to writing. It's a stretch and it will be a clumsy comparison, so please bear with me.
The best part about a waterpark is of course the waterslides. And the best waterslides are the long ones, where two of you can ride a tube, careening through tunnels, sloshing side to side and screaming all the way down. You lose yourself in the moment. The world outside the plastic wormhole evaporates into nothing more than a rumor of a distant memory.
This is like writing. Well, it's like writing that first draft of a story that tells itself. I had this kind of experience with WARRIOR-MONKS. It was my first novel length work and I tore through hundreds of thousands of words in a few short months, drunk on the thrill of it.
The worst part about waterparks is the lines. Standing there, inching along, dragging a hot plastic tube beneath your arm. Sweat rolls down your back and drips into your shorts, collecting in your ass crack like some twisted form of Chinese Water Torture. Your belly and back fat collect above your waistband like a swollen muffin top, bared freely for all the world to devour with their beady little eyes. Oh wait, I'm the only grown-up in the line, you say? Thank god.
As much as these lines suck, they are a necessary evil. You must endure them in order to enjoy the slide.
This is like revision, at least for those of you who hate it as much as I do. Part of it is laziness, part of it is hopelessness and part of it is simply fear. Fear that you wrote the best thing you could and can't possibly make it any better. But ... like that line grinding up the steep hill it gets better as you near the end.
First you enter the shade, this is like that moment when you realize that your writing isn't perfect. Typos are one thing, to err is human, but when you first discover that section of awkward phrasing and realize that to remove it altogether would be best, you realize the value of revision for the first time.
Then you reach the middle of the line. All of a sudden you can see the slide and enjoy watching others as they go zipping down the slope. This could be compared to several things but I like these two examples. One is when you discover that a subplot can be explored more thoroughly WITHOUT writing a bunch or extra scenes and beefing up that hated word count. Another is when you find a critique group and suddenly the end is in sight.
I didn't say near. Just in sight.
Finally you reach the top and sink your feet into the cool refreshing water, waiting for the lifeguard to give you the go ahead, and all that toil and endurance becomes a badge of honor.
I haven't actually reached this stage in my writing but I have several friends and readers of this little blog here who have. Finding an agent. Selling that book, or even just knowing that you are finally done with revision. Those of you who have been there please share with us about it in the comments.
Oh and that sunburn you don't feel until you get home and find yourself in agony? That's like getting a rejection letter 3 months after submitting a query and you've already revised your letter 5 times and re-written your novel into a different POV.
Life's a beach.