Spaghetti Gone Wild

Yesterday, in a Tweet to Kayla Olson, I described the state of my chapter-in-revision as spaghetti gone wild. Switching the order of the scenes had seemed a simple task. I had four scenes to deal with: one moves down, two move up, one stays in last place. No big deal. Next step: write/revise the narrative to link these scenes.

That’s when the mess began. I wrote words. I deleted them. I wrote different words. I deleted those too. Nothing felt right. Desperate, I thought maybe the fault lay within the scenes. Even though I’d loved them when I wrote them, I began to edit. I highlighted words, phrases, whole sentences I could improve, but I knew there was no sense working on those until I was sure they wouldn’t be cut. But then, the more I read the more I became dissatisfied. (If you’re a LOST fan, this is when I nicked the dural sac. :-))

Suddenly, none of it made sense to me. Everything was wrong. The writing was mediocre, the story silly, and I questioned why I wrote the chapter in the first place. When I realized I would rather play games than even open the file again, I knew I was in trouble. I now hated the chapter I once loved. Where had I gone wrong?

Without a clue, I gave up and played TextTwist, and as I did, I was reminded of way back when I first wrote about Jalal. I would write until I was out of words, and then I played Bejeweled. I don’t know why, but the background music brought Jalal’s voice to me, and I would play until I knew what to write next.

So, yesterday, as I sat there playing TextTwist, the fog lifted. This chapter was about Jalal, from his point of view, but I had ripped the heart out of it by trying to revise without him. I barged right in and started hacking away and shoving in more, without “getting into character” first. That’s how I totally screwed it up.

I must now step away (Or count to five? :-)) and listen until I hear Jalal’s voice. Then I’ll get this mess untangled.

Now, your turn: Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s done this.

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Photo credit: Susan at Timeless Gourmet

22 thoughts on “Spaghetti Gone Wild

  1. You are definitely not the only one! It’s so difficult to balance the needs of rewriting during revision and try to bring that creativity and magic into the analytical world of revision. It really is about putting one part of your brain aside so you can do the next bit and then switching back.

    Good luck to you and Jalal!

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  2. Only one who’s done what? Thought the writing mediocre, the story silly, played computer games instead of writing, added and deleted words, lines, hated a chapter you once loved ….? 😉

    Yes, to all of the above. Kerryn makes a great point about the challenge of switching from analytical to creative while re-writing. Since re-ordering scenes, reconnecting them requires both, anything mindless (computer games) helps with that switching.

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  3. Oh, how I miss those games! TextTwist especially. Since I moved to Texas, I haven’t hooked back up with the games. I liked Collapse, too, but the word games were my favorites. There is something very relaxing and “detangling” (This is not a word. It should be!) about video games. Maybe they take your mind completely off every other thing and let your subconscious mind tend to the problem areas.

    I have moved scenes and there was always something that had to change along with the move, but moving that many at once I’ve not tried yet.

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    1. I think that’s exactly what these games do, Carol. It’s a way to occupy your logical brain while your creative brain does its thing.

      Detangling is a word, isn’t it? Despite what the WordPress spellchecker says. 🙂

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  4. I don’t play games, I just go mental and go on long walks and/or drink 🙂
    But no, you’re not the only one to go through such frustrating periods, I had several months of trying to sort out my own spagetti mess, to the point I almost felt like giving up so I know how you feel.

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      1. Sometimes, that’s the only choice. To leave things for a while until your head is clear. Don’t worry, you will figure things out 🙂

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  5. i was reading the beginning, thinking, step away, come back later….and then you did 🙂

    moments like these are just pains in the you know what, but i think we need them. i love ‘spaghetti gone wild’.

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  6. Interresting the way you work and feel about the editing process. I just wich to know if you use the revising tool of Word (included in Microsoft). For me, it’s was a great discovery. Give me a new vision of the novel. More easyer to change a word, a paragrap without mistake.

    Do you use this tools?

    Have a nice day.

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  7. Sorry. I mean the review tool for editing. It’s free in the office Microsoft. You can find an example here:

    http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/review-tracked-changes-and-comments-HA001218562.aspx

    Once you set the box tool, it’s very easy to make change or not in your work (original, original with comments, final, final with comments). I love to put some comments about the fiction and work around the text. It’s also easier to make some editing with this tool.

    http://www.missouriwestern.edu/plwp/techfiles/dierking/tool.pdf

    I hope you will find it and try it for your novel.

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    1. Ah-ha! Yes, I do use the Review function … a lot. It’s invaluable to see my revisions in a bubble next to the original, so I can later decide which, if either, is the better version. But you know, I learned something from your second link. I didn’t realize you could turn off certain types of markup so you could easily review one type at a time. I’ll have to play around with this a bit more to see what else I might have missed. Thank you for pointing this out.

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  8. Linda, let it be known that I spent THREE HOURS revising a single scene for my novel hours before it was due to my editor two nights ago. It was a perfectly workable scene but two hours into my whimsical revision, I was a mess! I had lost all perspective and followed dialog to dead ends like one of my daughter’s maze books.

    A few hours away and I found my way back to the source and the scene came together once again. But there is nothing so frustrating for a writer (other than writers block, I suppose) than the spiral of insecurity and doubt that comes from a seemingly simple revision gone wrong–be it of a scene or an entire manuscript.

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