Sunday, November 28, 2010

Salvage Blog

Today I'm lazy and thought I'd revisit my older blogs and see if there were any to salvage. It may be too much work, however. Even though I have quite a few in a "draft" stage, they were set aside for good reasons. They are too prickly, like a cactus that we decided needed too much care to approach again. But, this is my salvage blog in honor of stuff we don't throw away.

I think we all keep drafts (and other things) and wonder "why?" Like a closet full of clothes that don't fit or are out of style, you wonder why you keep sections you cut from your WIP. They were cut for good reason; they also don't fit or the mood or style is wrong. You keep them though. Deleting is painful and has potential for regret. Maybe, just maybe, there's a reason to keep those "throw away" words. Maybe there's hope for salvage.

*browsing my edit list* Maybe this one. It doesn't look too promising, but maybe. Back in November of last year, I wrote a blog while miserable with a head cold and I apparently felt the need to share my misery! Now that's one blog I can read now and say, "I don't really care about your head cold." Even if it was mine! LOL

No, this one doesn't have a lot of promise. There is some "I'm sick, can someone send me some cyber chicken soup?" melodrama, and then it transitions into an attempt to review/critique a book. Now, wouldn't you hate it if someone obviously under the weather reviewed your work? But I wasn't thinking clearly and I dove in to write about a 'badly written' book. Even then I had the sense to leave out names, so it really wasn't a "review" but my outrage and crankiness is apparent:

The thing I really noticed was a very shallow POV. There were many, many instances of the hero and heroine being "aware" of him/herself in a way that any critiquer worth her salt would write a notation of a "POV slip." But the critiquer would soon get tired of correcting what was uncorrectable. This was not a mistake, this was on purpose!

I found it jarring and unsettling to read things like "he was a tall, powerfully built man" in what had to be his POV. I kept wanting to look around and "see" someone else but no, it was only him. Who thinks this way? It was all telling, and not showing.

This self awareness was present for the heroine as well. Her eyes "flew wide with dismay" and she frequently pushed her hair through her "auburn curls." Nope, no one is slapping this writer's hand and saying she can't think of herself this way.

Then, my crankiness turned to a reluctant admiration (I cleaned it up a bit, but I think I got what my foggy brain was trying to say):

But, because it was so consistent, the lack of POV depth settled into a certain expected style. For the hero, I could see how the effect was fitting for purposeful distance and arrogance. This was an alpha male, no doubt about it. I didn't exactly like him, but I didn't want to look away either. And by the time I read mid way through, reading in his POV, that "sudden devilment gleamed in his dark deep-set eyes" didn't throw me at all. In this borderline omnicient style, I could actually wonder, what is he up to? This mystery would be impossible in a deep POV.

The thing about this story, what kept me reading, was the sensual pull between the hero and heroine. It is hard to describe how this could be achieved with a slightly impersonal POV, but it was there. I'm still trying to figure it out. Maybe it was something about the "telling" that made it more economical and somehow more effective. More raw in the telling?

So, just as there is a nugget of value that saved this book, I think I found a nugget (or two) of value in my "throw-away" words.

For one, maybe reading with a cold or bad mood is actually a good time to be critical? For "your eyes only" though! As long as it's not going anywhere, criticize without the worry of offending. It's harmless venting and liberating to be honest without cushioning every criticism that has a negative ring with "in my humble opinion." So, be bold and voice the bad. After all, it should be easy in a bad mood!

Then talk about what good things salvaged the book. Even in a bad mood, this is possible to see. If it kept you reading in spite of the flaws, then it must be good! Only it will be difficult to express in a bad mood. You will be confused as to why this worked and reluctant to admit anything right could have come out of all those wrongs. Then take a breather (weeks, months, even a year) and edit yourself to find out what you were trying to say.

In this salvage, there is an an intriguing phenomenon of "time traveling back to your former self" at work here. I came across this quote in another blog and it sticks with me as a wealth of possibility for how to edit oneself. Many things are fixable and time and distance can do wonders for perspective. But one has to believe in the posibility of salvage for this to have appeal.

I acknowlege there are some, perhaps yourself, who believe it best to start anew and "clean house." Thow away the old and get a fresh start. But I would rather have a head start with a what I find in a salvage expedition. Actually, there is something appealing about cactus in November....

How about you? Do you see the salvage potential? Have you read a book and been compelled to analyze how "wrong" can become right? Have you read your own work and seen more clearly what your "former self" was trying to say?


  1. I have a tendency to save all those bits and pieces I take out during revisions, even for a blog post. I think deep down I know I'm not going to use them again - for one thing, it would be too much work to actually FIND the portion I want.

    But somehow it gives me comfort knowing that if I absolutely had to, I could dig through the wreckage and find it. LOL I haven't really thought of these things being something my "former self" has written -- but it kind of intrigues me now that you mention it.

  2. Donna, you may recall that quote "time traveling to your former self" came from your blog. :)

    I found it fascinating then and now to think about rewriting a story while knowing my "former self" didn't or couldn't know what I know now.

    Confusing, but fascinating. LOL Along the same lines but different direction, it's intriguing to think what I write today might be written differently tomorrow. Make sense? LOL


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