Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pack your way to a better novel

We're moving soon, so our house looks like what I imagine Costco's back room to look like...except with less stuff. ..and less cool stuff. We have box sculptures everywhere, and the constant cry of "who has the packing tape?" echoes through our emptying rooms.

As I was packing, I practiced the new family motto of "if you haven't used it in a year, send it to Goodwill". As my packing pile diminished, I felt the way I do when I revise a manuscript - elated that I was getting to the core of what makes me tick, with a few interesting things left that make me who I am. Who can get rid of the mini chattering teeth (I use them for school visits because one of my poems mentions dentures, and hey, they're fun!). And what about the paperweights that say "believe"? Gotta keep those. But life is definitely too short to wear those cute shoes that kill my feet.

With a manuscript, I love the freedom of that first 'throw it on the wall' draft. But then the real craft starts. I weed out the tangents that don't move the story forward, keep the details that make my characters who they are. Too much that's NOT needed takes our focus away from what we really need. Unlike Goodwill, if I throw out something I end up needing later, it's only a saved revision away!

Back to packing!


Sarah Laurenson said...

I hire people to do my packing. Probably why I have too much stuff. If I had gone through it before it went into a box, it'd be gone now.

Yeah! You're moving back to your new/old home! Congrats!

And a great analogy besides. Go you.

Lee Wind said...

Yeah, I agree with Sarah - NICE tie in to writing, there. Very unexpected, and a good surprise. Though I admit my mind went to figure out what would be the writing equivalent of packing tape - maybe hitting the "save" button at the end of each chapter? (though if that's the criteria, I'm a much better writer than packer. I tend to save every few moments (I know, I know.)
Hope the move goes smooth!

Suzanne Casamento said...

The idea of packing makes me cringe. I'd much rather revise! ; )

Good luck!

Gregory K. said...

I like to pack up my revisions and never see them again :-)

Good to see you blogging! And blogging while packing/moving is truly an impressive thing....