Melanie Spiller & Coloratura Consulting
A Tonic for Ramshackle Wordsmiths
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Copyright Melanie Spiller 2011. Do not copy without permission.
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The Full-Page Dilemma

I always thought that facing the blank page was a common writersí problem. I donít struggle with it much, myself. But lots of writers have told me about it and I believe itís a real problem.

I have the opposite problem. Iíve written and written and the first draft is finished, and now I have to revise. If someone gives me feedback and tells me where Iím too wordy or the metaphor doesnít work, Iím eager and ready to do the work of repairing it. But left to my own devices? Oy.

I think the trouble is that I am very comfortable writing. I like wordsóI like their nuance and their infinite variety. And, I play with words. I love a pun, I love collectives (I collect them: http://www.melaniespiller.com/Completely_Off_Topic/GroupNamesGroup.htm ), and I often enjoy using a word that is appropriate but not often called upon in a given circumstance.

So when I reread my work, Iím embarrassed to say, I enjoy reading what Iíve written. Oh, itís not that Iím not critical of my own work. Itís that as I attempt to revise it, I often compound the problem by being, well, ME during the revision.

I suspect that the trick is to try to read as if I were someone else. If someone called Adrienne (my dear friend) were to read, what would she call out as convoluted or misdirecting? Or what about my dad, who doesnít like when itís sarcastic or snarky?

I think thereís a certain handicap to writing easily. Perhaps if I agonized over the words, there wouldnít be so many of them. (I think my worst offense is wordiness.)

Here I sit with several complete (and lengthy) documents ready for revision. The most pressing are a work project, my travel journal/memoir/travel guide, and my historical novel. Oh, and Iím not counting the two and a half novels that I wrote off and on during the early 2000s.

Oh, and I have the next historical novel bubbling away under the mild-mannered surface. Itís so much more appealing to start the new thing than to do the disciplined, grown-up, and responsible thing and revise my finished works before starting the new. After all, if I do the second drafts, I lose the excuse for not getting published.

<Grumble>

Letís look at whatís stopping me. The work project isnít a priority for the department, so itís hard to scrape time together to focus on it. Not only that, perhaps no one will look at it when itís finished anyway.

The travel journal/memoir/travel guide has been in the works since 1998, and frankly, although Iím thrilled to have finished the first version of it, the revision from travel guide to memoir format is so huge that I donít want to do it. Iíd rather clean the house or something. Oh, once I get started, I know it will be fine, but itís the getting started that is the hard part. Itís the full-page dilemma.

And the fun one, the historical novel, well, Iím waiting for feedback from my writing group. Even though theyíve reviewed the early chapters and I figured out how to solve some basic problems within those early chapters. Theyíre going to review the rest next month. Uh huh. I could get started. But not having the whole thing reviewed is an excuse so I donít have to start.

Look at me. Iím sitting here blogging about not starting rather than starting.

<Grumble>