Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Winter Writing


This was the view out my window yesterday, following days of rain and thaw. Early January featured deep snow and subzero temperatures. Thanks to a polar vortex, all the USA was colder than normal. This wintery mix is not unusual for a Maine winter. Most days I ski or snowshoe with my dog and then warm my fingers at the laptop.

Fiction is the best escape. The young adult novel I'm writing takes place during the spring of senior year in coastal Maine. Every day brings more sunlight and revelations. While we were in England celebrating the holidays, I'd put aside my half drafted manuscript. The two week break made it easier to look at my work with fresh eyes. With time to reconsider, I realized that two secondary characters should be collapsed into one. It's working much better now, but one change creates a domino effect. I can't resist condensing, elaborating and polishing as I go along.

I much prefer revising to writing a first draft, but I have another 30K words, or more, to write before the first draft is complete. A contemporary YA novel is usually 60 to 80K words. There will be several more drafts before mine is ready to share with my agent in NYC. Maine is a good place to write a long book; bitter cold or icy days offer few distractions. The whiteness of a blank page is like fresh snow, waiting for me to leave my tracks. I'll keep writing and revising until the mist lifts.

12 comments:

Petra said...

We've had such mild winter this year and I don't like it much. Today I got quite a funny picture by e-mail presenting a "mudman" which replaces the usual snowman... That was apt. :)

I think that it's good you had the break from your writing, it definitely helps to see more clearly and have fresh ideas. It sounds as an interesting change to collapse the two not that important characters into one.

A Cuban In London said...

Your winter looks fabulous and your writing sounds like it's going in the right direction, even if there're still more drafts to come. We have had a very mild winter in London this year and today they were talking about early spring.

Great post and photos. Thanks.

Greetings from London.

Carol said...

Sarah, I love the metaphor of the blank page to fresh snow and your tracks/writing. I always think of that with canvases. Good Luck in your rewriting and the other 30K words!

Carol said...

I tried to leave this comment on your New Year post but it does not work so leaving it here instead.

Belated Best Wishes for the New Year Sarah! Your trip to England looks and sounds like great fun. Beautiful landscape photography. It has been a wild winter ride here too. Hardly any snow left right now.

Charlotte Agell said...

I want our snow back!

Rose said...

Revising sounds like such hard work; I can't imagine finishing a whole novel, much less re-writing it several times. But I know the end result will be worth it--I've read a few bargain books on my Kindle that could have used a second or third re-write:)

Love that first photo--Frost' "Stopping by the Wood" came to my mind right away!

Les said...

I love the analogy in the last sentence. Good luck with your process.

Booksnyc said...

That top photo is very atmospheric - I love it! Good luck with the writing process - I have so much respect for authors and the diligence it takes to produce a book which seems effortless.

Amanda said...

Strong progress on many fronts, congrats. It's wonderful when revelations such as those with your two secondary characters strike - enjoy these fruitful working days.

Donna said...

I'm glad the revising is going well. Winter is a great time for "indoor" types of projects like that. :)

Sarah Laurence said...

Petra, love the mudman! Sounds like a British winter. One secondary character was important for the plot, but the other simply provided a setting. By combining them, my MC now has 3 friends instead of an unwieldy 4. Writing reminds me of math, searching for the most elegant solution with the least amount of terms.

ACIL, no place is nicer than England in spring. I miss the London parks with their perfect flower beds and fields of daffs.

Carol, thanks and Happy New Year! Your other comment published after I approved it. I have to screen comments on old posts due to spam. Your recent blizzard missed us, sadly.

Charlotte, shall we do a snow dance? I can’t believe we didn’t get a snow day today.

Rose, Frost is my favorite poet. I thought of that poem, looking out my window.

Les, Amanda and Donna thanks for the encouragements!

Booknyc, so true! It takes a lot of effort to make a story look effortless.

Alyson (New England Living) said...

Perfect way to spend winter! Glad the revising is going so well!