‘licking it to death’

I learned that lovely turn of phrase from a sculptor who let out his studio twice a week– one day to draw or paint, one week to sculpt. The clay was a soft tan that melted under heat. To work it, there was a studio microwave were we softened blocks up. The artist, Terry Lee, would walk among us and give advice. Mine was, “You’re licking it to death.” Trying too hard to make her skin too smooth, too perfect, inspecting the exact proportional measures, putting on clay, scrapping it off again to achieve the same result.

Jody is virtually my only sculpture. The first time I tried, and perhaps the last. Not that I dislike sculpture, but it takes a lot of time, and I have too many things to do. Going over the last version of my book being one of them.

I didn’t really like the first chapter. I wrote a prologue to balance it, but I’m not happy with that, either. I got another idea. Started another prologue. Stopped. Got another idea. Started again.

After showing the revised versions and the samples to my fiance, he wonders if he didn’t like the original better. Now I’m conflicted.

How do I know if the book might have been already good enough? I was convinced it wasn’t. Now I’m not so sure. When do you realize you’re not doing anything to improve it any longer?

1 day left – 100%

The revision is done. Blue Crystal now stands just over 96,200 words.

No more rough edits. No more large-scale rewrites. Edits are put off until after NaNoWriMo, but after that, I’ll scrub out whatever typos and awkwardness my test readers have found and prepare my query letter.

novel infidelity (nanowrimo, and that next thing…)

There are fifty-one days between today and National Novel Writing Month 2009.

One month and twenty one days. Seven weeks and two days. Fifty-one days. Thirty-five weekdays. One month, twenty days, thirteen hours, ten minutes until the starting gun at midnight (from the time of writing).

I’ve got forty percent of Blue Crystal to revise still (though chapter eight is getting a major face lift at present). One chapter fixed a week (optimistic, as I’ve got the teaching job going again) means that it’ll take another five to six weeks to finish revisions. That last one or two weeks for polishing just might not be enough time to really finish final polishes, and I’d hoped to start agent searching before NaNo starts.

Why?

I’ve got a really, really fun story in mind to start on next.

Back two years ago, when I started Blue Crystal in NaNo 2007, this was actually my second idea for the fall project. My first choice was this yet immature idea, at the time a co-written sort of idea/plot that I just didn’t think was ready for a 50k marathon. Now, after two years of mulling in the back of my head, a go-ahead from my former partner to change, develop, and write the story without him, I’m more than ready to get started. It has everything that Blue Crystal doesn’t. Mad scientists, an awesome villain (he rams a screwdriver through his head in his first scene), an understated romance, and a sunny, Victorian-esc setting with a steampunk flair.

NaNoWriMo does something to me. I’ve participated twice (once on Blue Crystal’s first draft, then in ’08 with Blue Crystal’s third as a blind rewrite), and I’ve won both times. Before I started NaNo, I’d difficulty finishing anything. So here’s the problem: do I set Blue Crystal’s last changes aside and concentrate on the new thing knowing that a short attention span is my biggest writing weakness, or do I go full-bore and wear myself out literary-wise before November comes around? Or should I be prepared for both and see how things go?

It’s getting awfully hard to concentrate.