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“There is no great writing, only great rewriting”

November 4, 2012

As I’m sure many writers have realized, the title/quote from Justice Brandeis is too true. It’s so true it hurts sometimes. Like love, I suppose. But anyway, it’s time for a senior thesis update!

Alright, it’s been about, what? Three weeks? Sorry. After my last blog post, I turned in my first draft of my first actual chapter to my thesis seminar and it was basically shredded into itsy bitsy bits. Too itsy bitsy even for a yellow-polka dot bikini. No really: my pages and heart were bleeding. I was discouraged, but it was actually exactly what I was looking for in the seminar group. I want as much critique as possible while I have such an educated, supporting audience available.

The main problem with the chapter was I wasn’t explaining enough. Or rather I was explaining it in an ineffective manner. In the chapter, I have the monks in a sort of stasis. Compared to all the other stuff I was putting the monks through, I thought it was stasis: floating around on a boat is much more boring than being chased by Vikings, having your monastery burn down, and being blessed by Celts. I was using the opportunity of them just sitting there to have them flashback to the previous events. My idea was that there were in shock: monks’ lives don’t change very quickly and suddenly they’re having lots and lots of action. Having them sit dumbly on a boat trying to sort out their experiences made sense to me.

However, my thesis seminar thought the flashbacks were interesting and intense enough to warrant whole chapters. They also viewed the monks on a boat as another “crisis situation” the monks would have to deal with. Floating around in a small coracle with little food and an indeterminate location is nerve-wracking (not to mention I had them going in the middle of winter so the sea is unpleasant and even more cold).

In addition, I wasn’t building the world up enough, explaining the aspects of medieval life/the medieval religious thought process enough to have the monks’ actions make sense. No matter how much I call them “my monk babies” they are not children, nor stupid, and have some form of solid reasoning behind their actions. Living in a monastery, having those kind of intense, religious-based bonds, was something special. I needed to respect that more.  Taken alone, the book as it was could be viewed as critical and disrespectful of monastic life, saying that its way of life could not survive the real world outside the monastery. I really, really, really don’t want to say that. And it’s distinctly untrue. Many, many, many monks were faithful until the end and went into the world. My chapter didn’t really explain the beauty and faith that goes behind the monks’ actions, so I needed to fix it.

As a side note, I’m worried that people will accuse me of spreading the message that queer relationships don’t work out because they are queer, but that’s more into the future, with the sequels. Again, that’s definitely not what I’m going for. If anything, this series is meant to speak to the many, many forms love can take (in this book alone we have parent-child, religious, homoromantic asexuality, heterosexuality, & psychopathic/obsession). But the readers will have to wait until the series gets going to see that and might be angry in between.

ANYWAY, I soaked in all the criticism from my seminar group. I did more intensive research, making sure I could really get into the monk mindset. I thought of a couple new ways to start my story. I don’t have to completely scrap the chapter: more like slap it on the operating table and dissect it. I’m up for review again this Monday and I’ll let you know how it goes.

Just a heads up for what’s cooking on the blogging presses: I just went to a Writer’s Conference this weekend and they say that I should be writing on my blog 1-2 times a week for marketing purposes. In a world where everything with batteries is trying to get your attention, authors have to market themselves more and more when previously that was more the publisher’s job. The Conference continues tomorrow and I’ll write-up a proper run-down for you all. It may appear here or as a guest post on Charlotte Blackwood’s blog, but either way there will be beautiful, beautiful links. Speaking of links, here’s one to an Elementary episode promo. I’ve been watching/getting more and more interested in the show and I will definitely write a review once the season ends.

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From → Thesis

7 Comments
  1. Charlotte Blackwood permalink

    While I appreciate the update on your thesis extraveganza….

    I don’t like the title. I take exception to the title. The title MAKES ME ANGRY AND WANT TO SMASH THINGS.

    Just sayin’.

    BUT I LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU!!!! I’m also excited that there shall be a run-down!!!

    • ….and suddenly, Charlotte is the Hulk.
      How about this? The title only applies to us mere mortal writers who don’t crank out perfect, heartbreaking prose on the first try. You get to be the exception. Or we could loosely interpret “rewrite” to mean “tinker with the grammar and wording and then we’re done.” Not everyone needs super intense rewriting.

      • … and suddenly, Charlotte feels very happy about everything. 😀

        I was actually thinking more Godzilla than the Hulk, but Hulk is better. He’s wicked smart. That’s always better.

        Sigh. Working on a paper myself, AND I JUST REALIZED I’M SORT A SOURCE FROM THE REQUIREMENTS, so off I go, scrambling to find short, Japanese-American poetry about immigrating to America… if you know of any haiku on this topic, I’d be much obliged, but I’m fairly certain that goes against the concept of haiku.

        SIGH.

        -C

      • Wait, so you need a haiku? There might be something relevant among the writings on the Interment Camp walls during WWII. One lamenting about immigration or the difference between America and Japan. I’m confused as to what you’re asking for, but sounds like a whopper of a paper. Good luck!

      • Noooooo… It technically doesn’t have to be a haiku, but poetry would be appreciated since my first draft is due tomorrow…. and I’ve not started writing yet. 😛

        -C

  2. Testing of eyeroll smiley which kind of feels relevant to this post. 🙄 /roll/

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