Monday, January 18, 2010

Foggy

My Monday view: Foggy

Literally. It's foggy outside.

It's also a little foggy inside my head, too, because I'm still enjoying my first sips of coffee. Some new blend my live-in handyman bought. It's very good. But as the caffeine takes hold and my brain wakes up and joins me, the fog will gradually lift and the sun will return.

So with all this fog going on, I thought I'd chat about foggy writing.

Yesterday I had to go back to look for something in the first part of my manuscript. Some items had been placed in a box, and I needed to know what they were. Now - speaking of fog - you'd think I could remember this. But I wrote that bit before the holidays fried my last nerve.

If I kept an ongoing log, like I know some organized writers do, or started with a full outline, like some other organized writers, I could've looked it up. But that's way too easy.

So I scrolled back through the pages to the general area and found it. Wrote the items down on a bright pink stickie and slapped it on my desk right in front of the keyboard. I probably won't need it again, but if I do, I've got that sucker.

I digress. It's the fog.

But while I was a hundred or so pages in the past, I noticed a lot of foggy writing - assorted pronouns, wimpy verbs, adverbs trying to corrupt my real message. It was a muddled mess.

I knew these things were there because I put them there. I just didn't realize how much work I would have to do on second draft. If I can't think of the right word as I'm writing, I replace it with a pronoun that will do. Same with verbs. I move along.

But in that particular passage, the fog was darn thick and traffic was creeping along, flashers blinking.

My little foray back in time gave me a good heads-up on what I have in store next month. I just hope it's not so foggy I can't tell what I really meant.

20 comments:

Journaling Woman said...

I am foggy sometimes when I am writing. I think it's because of my ADHD. I have so much going on in the mind that sometimes one thought intrudes before the last thought becomes clear on the screen.

Great and helpful post.

Helen Ginger said...

But, the good news is...if you can't remember where you were going, you then have the opportunity to go wherever you want at that moment. Who needs a map when there are so many fun roads to take? Just don't get lost.

Helen
Straight From Hel

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Well, i understand what you're saying, as I can't remember where I put my socks an hour ago. But try this... I'm editing a book that I wrote eleven YEARS ago. My editor asks, "What did you mean by...xyz?" Hey, I don't even recognize it as something I wrote!
Not that's fog.

Best Wishes Galen.
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I know about foggy writing. Wow, do I know about foggy writing. I try to muddle through by taking tiny steps and putting my hands out to avoid bumping into stuff. Bumps hurt.

Elspeth

Kathy McIntosh said...

Oh, yes, I'm familiar with that morning fog and with foggy writing. If I'm not sure which word to use I either use slashes between choices or insert FIX in brackets.
Then I know areas that need work later. Sometimes my critique partners get to choose which word works best.
Galen---my goodness. I can't remember what or why I wrote something eleven weeks before!

kimberlyloomis said...

I love this post. When I can't find a word I use something else, put it in bold, then move on. Same goes for information I have to look up- makes it pop on that second time through.

Fun read and hopefully the coffee helped your fog. :)

Mason Canyon said...

Oh, the fog will clear and all will be bright. We have to keep the faith and hope of that. But some days, I think the fog turns to a brick wall in my case. Oh well, time for another cup of coffee.

Marisa Birns said...

But think of how wonderful it will be when, through your determined editing, the fog lifts and you see the beauty before you.

I have used stickies myself. Purple. But sometimes they unstick and fall away behind the table.

Then days later when I'm cleaning *shamefaced that it's days later* I'll find it with, for example, one word such as "synergy".

Still trying to remember why.

Conda V. Douglas said...

Carol, been there, done that, all of it. My only hope is that the more I write, the less foggy it gets. Here's hoping your weather clears up soon.

Carol Kilgore said...

Journaling Woman - If I ever get the what-if part of my brain in-sync with the logical part and both in tune with my fingers, I'll be a really happy writer.

Helen - Ooh, I like that. Fun new roads to travel.

Galen - Wow. I'm sure I wouldn't remember either.

Elspeth - Any idea where we could find an outfit to make us look like the Michelin Man or the Pillsbury Dough Boy?

Kathy - I'll do that on subsequent drafts, but from the first to the second almost all of it needs work.

Kimberly - Thanks. And the coffee did help.

Mason - Sometimes I find that wall, too.

Marisa - I can hardly wait for that day!
Purple works, too :)

Conda - I keep hoping that for my writing, too.

Laura Eno said...

Your last sentence is what scares me. I suppose that's why I find it so hard to turn off my internal editor.
I use the grocery list pads to jot things down. They're harder to lose than sticky notes. :)

Jan Christensen said...

Most advice folks say to just let it flow during first draft--"turn off that internal editor!" Sometimes I don't follow that advice, and I search in dictionary or on-line for a better word, or I look up the name of a restaurant in the town or city I'm writing about, and so forth. Other times the fire is so hot, I just put in three asterisks and search for them later. I guess it depends on my mood. In the end, I still have to go back and search and destroy overused words--I have a whole list of those. But I always say, the important thing is to get it down. Without doing at least that, there's nothing to work with. Good post!

Carol Kilgore said...

Laura - I'm more inclined to Helen's way of thinking. If I don't know what I meant, maybe it wasn't so good after all. I'll come up with something different.

Jan - I search for things while writing but not words so much. On first draft, I use whatever's handy.

Terry Odell said...

But isn't the delete key wonderful!

I'm a 'fix as you go' writer, although the fixes are never enough. I still have to go back and make sure I've got good transitions, not too many overused words, or "foggy" words like 'something' or 'anything'.

Carol Kilgore said...

I luuuuuuuuvvvv the delete key.

And I wish I had something creative to do with all the somethings and anythings and its and thems that I find on second draft. Maybe hang them at sunrise.

Angela said...

Whenever the fog gets thick here at the Sea, the fog horn begins to make noises (should look that word up - what does a fog horn do? Bleat? Toot? Must edit later). Maybe that helps to remind you it`s a foggy day and you should rather go shopping?

Carol Kilgore said...

Believe it or not, Angela, I used to live in a place called Fog Horn Alley. If any NY Coasties are reading this, they'll know what it means.

Is there one word to describe the sound a fog horn makes? Sort of a deep-throated diphthonged EEE-UH.

I dislike shopping.

cassandrajade said...

Occasionally I read my drafts and I wonder what on earth I was thinking. I don't remember why I wrote a scene or what the characters were doing and I don't know why it is important. Usually that means the entire scene was waffle while I was wrapping my head around the next chapter and I can simply cut it straight out of the draft. Othertimes I need to do some good thinking about what the scene needs to do and start over.

Stephen Tremp said...

Like Journaling Woman, I had ADHD or something along those lines. Foggines is something that creeps in on me unexpectantly. Just have to deal with it. And drink more coffee.

Stephen Tremp

Carol Kilgore said...

Cassandra - Sometimes I have to do some hard thinking about scenes and start over, too. That's never fun, but it gets done.

Stephen - I think coffee is almost a miracle drug.