the not so fun part of writing

I threw out half of my Work In Progress yesterday. Deleted eighty pages.

I knew it was going to come to this. Saw it coming back in July when scenes started cropping up that just didn’t feel right. I don’t regret it, but I sure do wish I had the time back that I spent on them.

This really feels like breaking up with someone that you know in your head you should break up with but your heart keeps reminding you of the “good days.”

Sigh. I just hope I threw out the right eighty pages.

102 Replies to “the not so fun part of writing”

  1. comment number one: for her 9th grade summer reading, my little sister had to read “Speak.” we both giggled at this because since the time I first read the book a few years ago, we’ve each read the book about six times. I can recite lines in my head. it’s quite eerie. but in any event, it’s a wonderfully written novel that has made me both laugh [“ha, biology joke”] and cry [like when she’s finally talking to mr. freeman]. i’ve taken notes in the margins, underlined my favorite parts, and written practice-SAT-essays about it in my english class. yes, this obsession is quite ridiculous, but i wanted to commend you for providing me with my absolute favorite book [with “The Virgin Suicides” as first runner-up].

    comment number two: i used to write a lot when i was younger — i’d start with a cute opening line and it was all downhill from there. i hope you find where you’re going with this work-in-progress, because i will look forward to reading it.

    comment number three: you’re just splendidly funny. the cynical and sarcastic humor in “Speak” and “Catalyst” rock my world [for lack of a better phrase]. yaaay !

    –sara

  2. comment number one: for her 9th grade summer reading, my little sister had to read “Speak.” we both giggled at this because since the time I first read the book a few years ago, we’ve each read the book about six times. I can recite lines in my head. it’s quite eerie. but in any event, it’s a wonderfully written novel that has made me both laugh [“ha, biology joke”] and cry [like when she’s finally talking to mr. freeman]. i’ve taken notes in the margins, underlined my favorite parts, and written practice-SAT-essays about it in my english class. yes, this obsession is quite ridiculous, but i wanted to commend you for providing me with my absolute favorite book [with “The Virgin Suicides” as first runner-up].

    comment number two: i used to write a lot when i was younger — i’d start with a cute opening line and it was all downhill from there. i hope you find where you’re going with this work-in-progress, because i will look forward to reading it.

    comment number three: you’re just splendidly funny. the cynical and sarcastic humor in “Speak” and “Catalyst” rock my world [for lack of a better phrase]. yaaay !

    –sara

  3. comment number one: for her 9th grade summer reading, my little sister had to read “Speak.” we both giggled at this because since the time I first read the book a few years ago, we’ve each read the book about six times. I can recite lines in my head. it’s quite eerie. but in any event, it’s a wonderfully written novel that has made me both laugh [“ha, biology joke”] and cry [like when she’s finally talking to mr. freeman]. i’ve taken notes in the margins, underlined my favorite parts, and written practice-SAT-essays about it in my english class. yes, this obsession is quite ridiculous, but i wanted to commend you for providing me with my absolute favorite book [with “The Virgin Suicides” as first runner-up].

    comment number two: i used to write a lot when i was younger — i’d start with a cute opening line and it was all downhill from there. i hope you find where you’re going with this work-in-progress, because i will look forward to reading it.

    comment number three: you’re just splendidly funny. the cynical and sarcastic humor in “Speak” and “Catalyst” rock my world [for lack of a better phrase]. yaaay !

    –sara

  4. Haha, I just thought of something really stupid (seeing how my mind works). In DVDs, they’ll have an outtakes part or easter eggs. It’d be great if we could do that with books.

    Gosh, I’m a nerd. I’ll stop now. =P

  5. Haha, I just thought of something really stupid (seeing how my mind works). In DVDs, they’ll have an outtakes part or easter eggs. It’d be great if we could do that with books.

    Gosh, I’m a nerd. I’ll stop now. =P

  6. Haha, I just thought of something really stupid (seeing how my mind works). In DVDs, they’ll have an outtakes part or easter eggs. It’d be great if we could do that with books.

    Gosh, I’m a nerd. I’ll stop now. =P

    1. Very, very hard to figure out. One of the hardest parts of writing, I think. For me, I always get a funny feeling when I read through a scene that doesn’t work. It’s like a scratch I can’t quite reach. Then I have to figure out:

      1. what is wrong
      2. if the whole scene is necessary to the story
      3. if 2=yes, how to fix it

      As hard as this can be, it is a very rewarding process.

    1. Hey, guess what?

      I AM ABOUT TO PACK BECAUSE I AM COMING TO SEE YOU IN A FEW HOURS!!!!

      (when I get excited like that and shout and dance, the dog freaks.)

  7. Hey, guess what?

    I AM ABOUT TO PACK BECAUSE I AM COMING TO SEE YOU IN A FEW HOURS!!!!

    (when I get excited like that and shout and dance, the dog freaks.)

  8. Hey, guess what?

    I AM ABOUT TO PACK BECAUSE I AM COMING TO SEE YOU IN A FEW HOURS!!!!

    (when I get excited like that and shout and dance, the dog freaks.)

  9. Very, very hard to figure out. One of the hardest parts of writing, I think. For me, I always get a funny feeling when I read through a scene that doesn’t work. It’s like a scratch I can’t quite reach. Then I have to figure out:

    1. what is wrong
    2. if the whole scene is necessary to the story
    3. if 2=yes, how to fix it

    As hard as this can be, it is a very rewarding process.

  10. Very, very hard to figure out. One of the hardest parts of writing, I think. For me, I always get a funny feeling when I read through a scene that doesn’t work. It’s like a scratch I can’t quite reach. Then I have to figure out:

    1. what is wrong
    2. if the whole scene is necessary to the story
    3. if 2=yes, how to fix it

    As hard as this can be, it is a very rewarding process.

  11. Thank you! I can’t tell you how comforting it is to read that even YOU sometimes get misguided and write stuff you can’t use. Especially comforting as I revise again the third and last incarnation of a manuscript that never felt quite right. (It’s the last incarnation because it will either sell or lie in the back of my closet for the rest of my life.)

    I’m sure you’ll end up with another wonderful manuscript.

  12. Thank you! I can’t tell you how comforting it is to read that even YOU sometimes get misguided and write stuff you can’t use. Especially comforting as I revise again the third and last incarnation of a manuscript that never felt quite right. (It’s the last incarnation because it will either sell or lie in the back of my closet for the rest of my life.)

    I’m sure you’ll end up with another wonderful manuscript.

  13. Thank you! I can’t tell you how comforting it is to read that even YOU sometimes get misguided and write stuff you can’t use. Especially comforting as I revise again the third and last incarnation of a manuscript that never felt quite right. (It’s the last incarnation because it will either sell or lie in the back of my closet for the rest of my life.)

    I’m sure you’ll end up with another wonderful manuscript.

  14. Yes, brave, that’s what you are. I have put a manuscript aside, refusing to work on it because I know I need to throw out 5-6 chapters and I’m too chicken to do it. I will become the queen of not finished books because I am too chicken to put, and keep, my characters in peril. Sigh.

    Someone, and now it is going to bug me until I remember who, did post some various versions of their manuscripts on their website and I thought it was a great idea to allow the reader to see the evolution.

  15. Yes, brave, that’s what you are. I have put a manuscript aside, refusing to work on it because I know I need to throw out 5-6 chapters and I’m too chicken to do it. I will become the queen of not finished books because I am too chicken to put, and keep, my characters in peril. Sigh.

    Someone, and now it is going to bug me until I remember who, did post some various versions of their manuscripts on their website and I thought it was a great idea to allow the reader to see the evolution.

  16. Yes, brave, that’s what you are. I have put a manuscript aside, refusing to work on it because I know I need to throw out 5-6 chapters and I’m too chicken to do it. I will become the queen of not finished books because I am too chicken to put, and keep, my characters in peril. Sigh.

    Someone, and now it is going to bug me until I remember who, did post some various versions of their manuscripts on their website and I thought it was a great idea to allow the reader to see the evolution.

  17. your books

    i hope your wip is going well. i can’t wait to read it:-)! i’ve been reading speak, catalyst, fever 1793, and prom for the past few days. i still have the first few sentences of speak memorized. (and yes i still read your acknowledgements LOL.) “it is my first morning of high school. i have seven new notebooks, a skirt i hate, and a stomachache. the school bus wheezes to my corner. the door opens and i step up. i am the first pickup of the day.” “if i hear another word i’ll burst into a million fragments of blonde hair.” “‘where’s polly?’ i asked as i dropped the bucket down the well. ‘i spoke with her mother, with mistress logan,’ mother answered softly, looking at her neat rows of carrots. ‘and?’ i waved a mosquito away from my face. ‘it happened quickly. polly sewed by candlelight after dinner. her mother repeated that over and over, “she sewed by candlelight after dinner.” and then she collapsed.’ i released the handle. the bucket splashed, a distant sound. ‘matilda, polly’s dead.'” “once upon a time there was a girl who served pizza in a rat costume. that was me.” sorry for quoting your books. just wanted to put them in there:-)! well g2g. hope you and meredith have fun together! -ashley 🙂

  18. your books

    i hope your wip is going well. i can’t wait to read it:-)! i’ve been reading speak, catalyst, fever 1793, and prom for the past few days. i still have the first few sentences of speak memorized. (and yes i still read your acknowledgements LOL.) “it is my first morning of high school. i have seven new notebooks, a skirt i hate, and a stomachache. the school bus wheezes to my corner. the door opens and i step up. i am the first pickup of the day.” “if i hear another word i’ll burst into a million fragments of blonde hair.” “‘where’s polly?’ i asked as i dropped the bucket down the well. ‘i spoke with her mother, with mistress logan,’ mother answered softly, looking at her neat rows of carrots. ‘and?’ i waved a mosquito away from my face. ‘it happened quickly. polly sewed by candlelight after dinner. her mother repeated that over and over, “she sewed by candlelight after dinner.” and then she collapsed.’ i released the handle. the bucket splashed, a distant sound. ‘matilda, polly’s dead.'” “once upon a time there was a girl who served pizza in a rat costume. that was me.” sorry for quoting your books. just wanted to put them in there:-)! well g2g. hope you and meredith have fun together! -ashley 🙂

  19. your books

    i hope your wip is going well. i can’t wait to read it:-)! i’ve been reading speak, catalyst, fever 1793, and prom for the past few days. i still have the first few sentences of speak memorized. (and yes i still read your acknowledgements LOL.) “it is my first morning of high school. i have seven new notebooks, a skirt i hate, and a stomachache. the school bus wheezes to my corner. the door opens and i step up. i am the first pickup of the day.” “if i hear another word i’ll burst into a million fragments of blonde hair.” “‘where’s polly?’ i asked as i dropped the bucket down the well. ‘i spoke with her mother, with mistress logan,’ mother answered softly, looking at her neat rows of carrots. ‘and?’ i waved a mosquito away from my face. ‘it happened quickly. polly sewed by candlelight after dinner. her mother repeated that over and over, “she sewed by candlelight after dinner.” and then she collapsed.’ i released the handle. the bucket splashed, a distant sound. ‘matilda, polly’s dead.'” “once upon a time there was a girl who served pizza in a rat costume. that was me.” sorry for quoting your books. just wanted to put them in there:-)! well g2g. hope you and meredith have fun together! -ashley 🙂

  20. wow! how brave of you. Just glad to know that you have it in earlier drafts if you want to use it again. I went back to college today(taking a remedial math and 1302 english). Our teacher was talking about our research paper and I thought whoa, how scary. It helps to know that all writers get nervous or dont like a certain part of their writing. Maybe I can pay you to do my research paper?! lol jk!

    Have a good weekend!

  21. wow! how brave of you. Just glad to know that you have it in earlier drafts if you want to use it again. I went back to college today(taking a remedial math and 1302 english). Our teacher was talking about our research paper and I thought whoa, how scary. It helps to know that all writers get nervous or dont like a certain part of their writing. Maybe I can pay you to do my research paper?! lol jk!

    Have a good weekend!

  22. wow! how brave of you. Just glad to know that you have it in earlier drafts if you want to use it again. I went back to college today(taking a remedial math and 1302 english). Our teacher was talking about our research paper and I thought whoa, how scary. It helps to know that all writers get nervous or dont like a certain part of their writing. Maybe I can pay you to do my research paper?! lol jk!

    Have a good weekend!

  23. wow, how very brave of you. that must have been scary and disappointing to have to get rid of that much material that i’m sure you were trying very hard to make work, but i’m sure it’s for the best.

    out of writerly curiosity, do you keep those 80 pages in any form? maybe to see if small parts of it can be worked back in later, or just for posterity?

  24. wow, how very brave of you. that must have been scary and disappointing to have to get rid of that much material that i’m sure you were trying very hard to make work, but i’m sure it’s for the best.

    out of writerly curiosity, do you keep those 80 pages in any form? maybe to see if small parts of it can be worked back in later, or just for posterity?

  25. wow, how very brave of you. that must have been scary and disappointing to have to get rid of that much material that i’m sure you were trying very hard to make work, but i’m sure it’s for the best.

    out of writerly curiosity, do you keep those 80 pages in any form? maybe to see if small parts of it can be worked back in later, or just for posterity?

  26. Don’t stress

    Well I think that whatever you did you would still come up with an AMAZING new novel! I read and absolutely love all of your books and I’m sure that everything will turn out fine.

  27. Don’t stress

    Well I think that whatever you did you would still come up with an AMAZING new novel! I read and absolutely love all of your books and I’m sure that everything will turn out fine.

  28. Don’t stress

    Well I think that whatever you did you would still come up with an AMAZING new novel! I read and absolutely love all of your books and I’m sure that everything will turn out fine.

  29. Ahh, that is exactly a move I’d pull. I’ve done it several times.. Reading the things I wrote a bit ago, I wonder why I didn’t just do the same to them.

  30. Ahh, that is exactly a move I’d pull. I’ve done it several times.. Reading the things I wrote a bit ago, I wonder why I didn’t just do the same to them.

  31. Ahh, that is exactly a move I’d pull. I’ve done it several times.. Reading the things I wrote a bit ago, I wonder why I didn’t just do the same to them.

  32. Bright side — It’s good that you’re that close to what you want to say, what you’re trying to convey (aesthetically) that you know what to edit. That’s saying a lot.

    Still, it’s hard to let go …

  33. Bright side — It’s good that you’re that close to what you want to say, what you’re trying to convey (aesthetically) that you know what to edit. That’s saying a lot.

    Still, it’s hard to let go …

  34. Bright side — It’s good that you’re that close to what you want to say, what you’re trying to convey (aesthetically) that you know what to edit. That’s saying a lot.

    Still, it’s hard to let go …

  35. Speak!

    I just wanted to let u know that I can’t wait to see Speak on Lifetime on September 5th, I loved the book, and am hoping the movie will be just as great!!

    -SaRaH

  36. Speak!

    I just wanted to let u know that I can’t wait to see Speak on Lifetime on September 5th, I loved the book, and am hoping the movie will be just as great!!

    -SaRaH

  37. Speak!

    I just wanted to let u know that I can’t wait to see Speak on Lifetime on September 5th, I loved the book, and am hoping the movie will be just as great!!

    -SaRaH

  38. September 5th

    HEY!

    I was watching Lifetime Network yesterday and started jumping up and down when a preview for…

    *drumroll*

    SPEAK came on! I was freaking out! It didn’t say it was speak until the last part, but i knew it from the scenes and the way it was panning out the story the best it could in 30 seconds.

    Well i’ve been waiting to watch it forever and i plan on taping so i can have it until it comes on DVD

    Love yah Laurie!

  39. September 5th

    HEY!

    I was watching Lifetime Network yesterday and started jumping up and down when a preview for…

    *drumroll*

    SPEAK came on! I was freaking out! It didn’t say it was speak until the last part, but i knew it from the scenes and the way it was panning out the story the best it could in 30 seconds.

    Well i’ve been waiting to watch it forever and i plan on taping so i can have it until it comes on DVD

    Love yah Laurie!

  40. September 5th

    HEY!

    I was watching Lifetime Network yesterday and started jumping up and down when a preview for…

    *drumroll*

    SPEAK came on! I was freaking out! It didn’t say it was speak until the last part, but i knew it from the scenes and the way it was panning out the story the best it could in 30 seconds.

    Well i’ve been waiting to watch it forever and i plan on taping so i can have it until it comes on DVD

    Love yah Laurie!

  41. Yikes, 80 pages. Going back and deleting is always a hard thing to do.

    I just saw the “Speak” promo on Lifetime, I can’t wait for it.

    It’s so awesome that you’re from here [Syracuse]. Maybe I’ll see you at the fair on the 31st. That’d rock.

  42. Yikes, 80 pages. Going back and deleting is always a hard thing to do.

    I just saw the “Speak” promo on Lifetime, I can’t wait for it.

    It’s so awesome that you’re from here [Syracuse]. Maybe I’ll see you at the fair on the 31st. That’d rock.

  43. Yikes, 80 pages. Going back and deleting is always a hard thing to do.

    I just saw the “Speak” promo on Lifetime, I can’t wait for it.

    It’s so awesome that you’re from here [Syracuse]. Maybe I’ll see you at the fair on the 31st. That’d rock.

  44. the dollmaker & 600 trashed pages

    I just read that Harriette Arnow, THE DOLLMAKER, threw out six-hundred pages that she had to write before she could write THE DOLLMAKER. Susan Neville writes in her essay “Where’s Iago” – “six hundred beautifully crafted pages worth of sentences written in early morning before she had to get the children up for school, to make breakfasts, and the lunches and find the homework accidentally kicked under the couch or thrown away and get the clean clothes in the dryer. These early pages described the family’s rural Kentucky life, with its daily conflicts, each character locked in place. And she threw them away. Because on page 601, the war, Iago, enters, and the father’s restlesses and wanderlust and the mother’s physical strength and love for her children and obedience to her husband reveal themselves as the hairline potentially destabilizing tensions.” In short, they leave Kentucky for Detroit…

    It’s a great essay, and it will give you heart. I’ve thrown out hundreds of pages…you’ll find the threads again, I know it, Laurie.

  45. the dollmaker & 600 trashed pages

    I just read that Harriette Arnow, THE DOLLMAKER, threw out six-hundred pages that she had to write before she could write THE DOLLMAKER. Susan Neville writes in her essay “Where’s Iago” – “six hundred beautifully crafted pages worth of sentences written in early morning before she had to get the children up for school, to make breakfasts, and the lunches and find the homework accidentally kicked under the couch or thrown away and get the clean clothes in the dryer. These early pages described the family’s rural Kentucky life, with its daily conflicts, each character locked in place. And she threw them away. Because on page 601, the war, Iago, enters, and the father’s restlesses and wanderlust and the mother’s physical strength and love for her children and obedience to her husband reveal themselves as the hairline potentially destabilizing tensions.” In short, they leave Kentucky for Detroit…

    It’s a great essay, and it will give you heart. I’ve thrown out hundreds of pages…you’ll find the threads again, I know it, Laurie.

  46. the dollmaker & 600 trashed pages

    I just read that Harriette Arnow, THE DOLLMAKER, threw out six-hundred pages that she had to write before she could write THE DOLLMAKER. Susan Neville writes in her essay “Where’s Iago” – “six hundred beautifully crafted pages worth of sentences written in early morning before she had to get the children up for school, to make breakfasts, and the lunches and find the homework accidentally kicked under the couch or thrown away and get the clean clothes in the dryer. These early pages described the family’s rural Kentucky life, with its daily conflicts, each character locked in place. And she threw them away. Because on page 601, the war, Iago, enters, and the father’s restlesses and wanderlust and the mother’s physical strength and love for her children and obedience to her husband reveal themselves as the hairline potentially destabilizing tensions.” In short, they leave Kentucky for Detroit…

    It’s a great essay, and it will give you heart. I’ve thrown out hundreds of pages…you’ll find the threads again, I know it, Laurie.

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