26 February 2021

Cutting is Painful But Necessary.

 

Photo by Ellieelien on Unsplash
Hello, all! 

I've been doing a lot of work lately that doesn't actually feel like work. As you know, I've been reading a lot of YA fantasy in order to familiarize myself with what audiences are into, what the tropes and standards of the genre are, and to see the quality of writing that's out there. I also started reading to get inspiration, because...

I hit an enormous writer's block with Son of the Siren, one that wasn't like any block I'd experienced before. I just completely stopped writing and couldn't wrap my mind around what was wrong. 

Actually, that's not entirely true. With introspection, I figured out one of the things holding me up. 

This book is deeply personal to me and is bringing up some trauma from my life as I write it, so I figure I had to stop writing and process all of this stuff from my past. There's some heaviness coming up with the drafting because of the fairy tales I've chosen to base the book off of, like Donkeyskin, The Wild Swans, and of course, The Little Mermaid. If you know the original versions (or should I say, early versions) of these stories, you know that there's some darkness in them and some taboo topics. 

But the bigger issue -- things were just not working out. I wrote and wrote and wrote, and for a while the words exploded out of me, but there was something going on with characters and plot points that just weren't adding up. Plus, I obliterated my original plot outline as I wrote organically, which is how I tend to write anyway. Following an outline has always been incredibly difficult for me, and I recently read an article about intuitive writing that spoke to my process and made me feel better about it. 

I decided to go back to how I originally write instead of trying to mold myself into what everyone says we should be doing. 

You're supposed to finish your entire draft before you make big cuts or do any editing, but I have never been the type of writer to follow that. Part of it is because of my memory (or attention span, maybe), and if I don't make changes when I see problems, I'll just forget, and let the problems snowball into something bigger. 

So, I did something excruciating in the beginning of February. I cut over 40 pages of writing. (That's what I told everyone anyway, without properly remembering my page counts). 

Actually, I just now looked at my original draft, which was at 153 pages. And when I rebooted the book, I started at page 75. 

I CUT 78 PAGES OF WRITING! 

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh! 

I cut basically all of the second act, which was still in progress, but the whole of it felt wrong somehow. I had an excellent first act, so I preserved that, and restarted the second act from scratch. 

As of today, I'm on page 124. 

The good news is I'm back to that feeling of "auto-writing," where things just go their own way naturally, and although my decision to make such a substantial cut was painful, it was the right choice to make. 

I finally feel back on track with the book. And while there are moments where I need to slow down and take a breather to process through all of the personal stuff coming up with the writing, I'm pretty much full steam ahead.