Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ahhh -- Revisions

Just when you thought that staring at that empty page had been a chore and wondering how you're ever going to come up with anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000+ words in a coherent manner to convey your story, revisions loom in that dark, untapped zone of the mind. Sure. You've developed your characters; they've adequately grown during the course of the story. You've followed the three act structure in creating your story. You've got action. You've drafted precious little backstory. You've even included a few magical words along the way. You've typed the ### at the end of your manuscript, done your happy dance, gone out to celebrate the completion of your story . . . but now what?

Revisions. What's the best way to tackle them? Don't do them. Let me rephrase that. Take that gloriously completed manuscript and shove it in a drawer . . . for awhile. While you can easily distance yourself from a short story in a week's time and come back to edit it, it's best to allow at least three months, even up to a year, before beginning the task of making revisions to a novel-length manuscript. Really. Your story and the intriguing characters that you've brought so beautifully to life have been actively jumping around in your brain for awhile now. You need a to take a break from your story. No one ever died from separation anxiety when taking time away from a freshly completed book manuscript, so get out there. Be around human beings again. Get back into nature. Go to Disneyland. Do just about anything but look at, analyze or even think about your story. After you've completed at least three months away from your potential Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, congratulate yourself. You've just completed the first task of the revisions process. Get out there and celebrate. Then prepare yourself for that foray into dark, untapped portion of your mind.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Now is the Perfect Time to Finish Projects

A visit to Sue Moon's blog helped me see why I have felt bound and determined to complete my current writing assignment at any time of the day or night. Planet Mercury is in retrograde again. Enough said. Right?

Retrograde refers to when a planet (in this case, Mercury) appears to move backwards from the perspective of the Earth. Astrology is based on the appearance of things. Just like the sun doesn’t actually rise (the Earth spins around it), planets do not actually move in reverse. They just appear to move in this direction to those of us on Earth.

Mercury represents the power of the mind. When the mind is running rampant on old patterns and self-talk and when it is difficult to keep your mind focused on one thing, this is Mercury at work. Mercury likes to flip through the different channels of the mind. When this planet goes retrograde it's as if someone is pulling the plug on the mind at random moments (been forgetting things lately?) and stealing the remote control device of the mind. Despite the random flipping of our mind channels, we like to keep driving forward with our plans.

In general, when Mercury goes retrograde, it's easy to miss the details. It’s a time when we tend to misunderstand what was said, to misread what was written, to get the dates wrong or forget to show up. This is why the common advice given when Mercury is in retrograde is to refrain from signing contracts, making major commitments or undertaking major new endeavors.

The benefits of Mercury in retrograde are that it's the perfect time to get your files in order and wrap up loose ends, to contact people from the past, to find things, to complete projects, to reflect, wonder and learn. Communication may be difficult but connecting is not. If you're temporarily willing to unplug from the outside world and listen your inner guidance, many good things can come into your life.

One of my favorite teachers, Master Chen regularly says, it is better to be like water and go with the flow, than to be like glass and break. There are four times this year when Mercury is in retrograde, instead of the usual three times. Take advantage of the cosmic forces from August 20 through September 12, go with the flow and finish some of those pending writing projects.