by Pat Hart
I had a writer-ly experience last week.
I’d promised myself, sacred vow, that I would finish my current WIP before the Pennwriters in May. I made that commitment in August when I’d reached the 100-page milestone. Today I am at a whopping 125.
I’d skipped Pennwriters last year because I’d “put aside” my first finished manuscript, Go Fish, and had just started on my new darling and therefore didn’t have anything to sell. Plus it was way over on the other side of the state and I was being cheap.
I regretted it.
I didn’t want yet another year to slip by without at least trying to get published. So, faced with the impossibility of reaching my original goal of completing my current WIP, I revisited Go Fish.
I have the document in printed form and it would have been so picturesque to dig a dusty box out of the back of closet, wrap up in a crocheted afghan, and settle into a stuffed chair, mug of tea steaming in my hand, calico cat purring on my lap…in actuality I just clicked a few keys and it appeared on my screen.
I edited as I read my old manuscript and I found plenty to change. Previously, I’d worked to tatters the first ten pages of that poor story. I’d flopped back and forth from first person to third person narrative and then back to first person and traces of the old point of view would pop up unexpectedly. I was alternating between putting an “s” in and taking an “s” out. Comma in, Comma out and so forth. No wonder I’d put this thing aside.
But then around page 10, I forgot to edit, forgot I was the author, and just read.
It’s a strange thing to read your own words and not really know what you’re going to say next. I don’t know if it’s because I’m over 40 and can’t remember the movie I saw a week ago, or if it’s every writer’s experience when reading work from a couple of years ago.
As I read, I forgot to think of structure, motive, story arch, and point of view. I was thinking: “that girl’s screwed, he’s a jag off, and HA, that’s funny!” and I was entertained.
It was a great encouragement to me that I could at least please one reader, even if it is just myself.
Hope to see you all at Pennwriters this year!