Thursday, October 10, 2013
Do the Work. Even if It's Work.
On the other hand, there are the students who come who don't want to work. Who want me to do the work for them. And not just on editing, but on the actual writing.
I can't tell you how many times I've said, "I can help you generate ideas and clarify your position. I can help you outline and develop a strong thesis statement. But I can't actually write this for you. You have to do that hard work yourself."
And it is hard. I know that. For some people, having ideas are very different than putting those ideas down on paper into words that flow and have meaning and structure. But still, that is their job as a student. Do the work. Even if it's hard.
I've come to a part in revising my novel where I've hit a snag between the old version and the new. The old version is one point of view, the new is two, and trying to shift some of the story into someone else's eyes has gotten tricky.
Yesterday I realized that the chapter I was writing in a new point of view had lost all the magic of the first version by putting it in another character's eyes. All the zing? Gone.
My impulse was to just ditch the idea of alternating chapters and let the girl take this one, even though she had the last chapter, and the chapter after it. Or make on long, long chapter with her. I wasn't looking at that as the easy way out... I just thought it would work better.
But it didn't feel right. It felt like I was reneging on a bargain I'd made myself when I began revisions. I closed the computer and began to turn it over in my head. How can I keep this chapter in her POV without losing the need for alternating POVs?
If I kept this chapter as it was, I could add another, new chapter, in the boy's POV before it. That's a seemingly easy answer, of course, except there isn't anything that needed to be said between the last chapter and this. Time-wise, they bleed into each other.
I couldn't just throw in something random. It had to mean something. The whole point of the male POV is to offer the reader pieces of the puzzle the girl doesn't have. Something the audience knows that is important, but that she doesn't. A tension thing, really. So this newer chapter would have to have that. And what else could I throw in that wouldn't seem like I was just throwing it in?
I twisted so many things around, my brain hurt. It felt like work, this figuring things out.
But I did. Finally. After hours, I figured out a chapter for him that would throw a huge wrench in the plot - and strengthen a part of the book that was already a bit weak.
Could I have done something easier? Absolutely? Was taking the harder task on of fixing it right worth it? I sure think so right now.
Sometimes, I have to tell my students, "Do the work. Even if it feels like work."
It's good advice for me, as well.