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Minor Surgery

I just came out of the surgery. The patient seems fine now but I won’t know until I return to it tomorrow.

 

It was necessary but regretful. That chapter needed major work. I’d tried revising and editing but reading and re-reading what I’d written and revised, the piece cried out for surgery. So keeping the chapter number in the original document, I added a note about what I was doing and why (highlighted in lime green to draw my attention later) and then carefully excised the afflicted chapter from the body and isolated it in its own document. Once there, I read it again. Multiple themes had been inserted but as they emerged, they entangled, cluttering the story line with unnecessary chatter. Fortunately the surgery turned out to be minor. No storylines were seriously afflicted, nor was the plot, setting or character development.

Why put the chapter into another document? There’s actually some thought and experience behind that and I have several reasons. One is that I like treating each chapter as a short story. Isolating it as its own document reinforces that approach.  I’m less likely to wander from the chapter under the knife to other parts of the book and less likely to lose track of where I’m in the procedure if it’s a separate document. Two, long ago, I realized that sometimes what I’d put into one chapter actually should be divided into two chapters. I’d also sometimes recognized that pieces of a chapter actually belong elsewhere. Sometimes, it’s a combination. That was this chapter’s situation.

The situation dictated I do ‘other’ thinking, that is, background information that doesn’t go into the book but is part of the characters’ knowledge and involvement, and part of the plot. From one document, that of the saved chapter, I ended up with four – the ‘original’ chapter, a potential new chapter, and tidbits that may belong to either one, or to somewhere else, and the background thinking, Nostradamus’ Compilation.  Maybe it’s just me but sometimes staying organized and clear about what happened to who when is sometimes challenging. Working in separate docs allows easier movement between the story’s different avenues. It’s also easier to insert into the original document anything removed from the offending chapter.

Anyway, I won’t know until tomorrow. More editing and revising will be done after the flush of satisfaction has seeped out and I can see more clearly. Even then, it won’t be perfect. It’ll likely be good enough for the moment. That’s another thing that I’ve learned, that as the story’s voice develops clarity, some final refinements are needed to make it all come together. I need to see the whole before I can fit the final pieces. Writing organically, that means it must all be written before I’m satisfied that all the parts fit together.

 

Time to call time on writing like crazy. It was an awesome session. 

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Polished

Completed my reading, editing and revising of “Returnee” today. I thought it had been so polished before.

 

I was a bit off.

It wasn’t ugly but there were small mistakes. Disturbing to find such mistakes but not incredibly surprising. Our minds can be magnificently devious providing interpretations what we see and what we’re told we see.

I didn’t read the whole novel. Once I edited the first sections, I had to re-number the chapters. The story kept drawing me in as I did. So I edited, revised and polished more. And, I think, if I set it aside and come back to it in a few more weeks, I’d probably find more errors or places for further polishing, a case for having copy editors and editors.

I’m an impatient writer, though, and want to get on with other things to be written, stories to be told, stories to be finished. Novels.

So. What to do tomorrow. On with the editing and revising or continuing with the latest novel in progress? The Writer wants to go with the latter. He’ll probably win. It’s easier. Safer. More fun.

 

He likes it when I write like crazy.

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The Right Song

Question: when did pop music arrive on the American music scene?

What were the top radio hits and performers in 1953 in America?

When did sock hops begin?

When was the term 'deejay' coined?

I spent yesterday afternoon in research after my writing session, addressing a 1953 dance scene. Yes, originally my novel starts in 1959. Now it's jumped back a few years. See, I'd formed this image of my character. It's a first impression. He's a young, rising businessman. Well, except his business is illegal. He falls in love with this damaged teenager and they start having children, including a serial killer. Oh, but wait. I didn't know it at the time, but my hero was already married. He enjoys the thrill of keeping different lives. The first wife thinks he works for the government as a private contractor. He likes the allure and convenience associated with the mystery of his secret profession. It was easier back then, before everything was so carefully vetted. The second wife knows his job is illegal and he likes that, because he can be more open with his second wife. His third wife doesn't care what he does, as long as they're having fun.

So now I needed to understand more about 1953 music. To the Google! Actually, I use Wikipedia for vast swaths of research and returned the favor to them for being so helpful by donating some money to the cause. Back in 1953, our hero meets his first wife at a dance. Is that a sock hop with a deejay? Did they have them in 1953? Check. What song was playing when he first saw her dancing...?

Oh, that was a toughie but the net helped me once again. A terrific website, Top40Charts.net, listed the top 40 songs with the title and artist, by year, with links to YouTube renderings. Fantastic. I sat there listening to song after song, listening for the one that he heard when he first saw his first wife but OMG, I disliked most of that music. I knew about twenty of the songs, sometimes through other artists, but several were quite new. After 1953, I checked out 1952 and 1954, yes, spending over two hours listening to music, reading about artists and thinking about that scene. It's really not important, I tell myself. Just select a song and move on.

First, though. I'll think check out 1955 and maybe 1956. He'll still be married, with children, when he begins his second -- and third -- marriages so that slight year shift won't make much difference. I'm eager to write this scene, as well as three related scenes burgeoning in my mind, so I will now and add the song's details later.

Time to write like crazy, one more time.

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