Making it Shine

Hard at work on a manuscript, I was suddenly reminded of those Pledge commercials that used to air during the soap operas back when I was a kid. You know the ones where a fine mist covers an already spotless piano and is wiped up quickly without a smudge or a streak. Pure magic right before our eyes! And don’t forget when lemon Pledge came on the scene. Not only did it clean like a charm, but it had that great lemony smell. Ah lemon–what more could any good housewife want?  I’m not sure how many of us owned pianos back then but seeing that wood shine is a memory that sits pretty in my mind. If we’d have owned one of the darn things I’d have surely spent my days polishing away.

I’ve been working on a manuscript that requires a little more buffing, just a little more shine, thus the trip down memory lane with the lemon Pledge. (Our minds have a great way of connecting unrelated things, don’t you think?)

So I’m at the place where I need to make this story as shiny as that piano on the lemon pledge commercial. The truth is I like this part of writing, maybe even more than setting the story down. I like reading what’s already there, moving those sentences around if need be, even adding scenes that previously weren’t there because a sudden burst of writing genius has made me see something that I was previously unable to see. This is the part of the writing process where I get to shine, and it’s a good feeling. It’s the place where we can take a good story and make it even better. Others might not see it, certainly not the readers who sees only the finished product, but a writer knows. Oh yes, we certainly do. Sometimes all it takes is the smallest bit of change.

Once I have a clear idea of what idea of just how I’m going to make a story shine, I like to jump right in and get to work. A phone call from my editor a week ago gave me just what I needed to start me off. I now have all the supplies I need to give this next story a shiny new coat. I don’t expect the process to take all that long, but I do expect to enjoy every glorious moment. I’ll let you now how I make out.

And who knows maybe if I pick up a can of furniture polish I’ll become that “good housewife” after all. Now back to work I go.

What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most?

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24 Comments

  1. My favourite part of writing is the first draft when I’m in the zone and my fingers can’t move fast enough to keep up with the thoughts in my head. It’s when I believed my characters would go left and they turned right, taking me on a journey I hadn’t imagined. Along the way I discover the inner workings of these characters, know them as I would my best friend and see things I’ve never seen before. Everything is new and I can’t stop talking about the adventure I’m on.

    The first session of editing is fun, too, though not as fun as the first draft. However, after I’ve read and edited a story numerous times in a month, I get a little sick of it.

    And then there is the finished product when all is done and I can put my characters to bed. Ah, that feels pretty good, too.

    I look forward to hearing more about the work you’re polishing.

    Reply
    • For me, I never write a first drft all the way through. I keep going back and making changes. I’m not saying it’s a good system but, for now, it’s the one I use.

      I do agree with you that reworking a piece can make it feel old very quickly. For now, I’m touching a few things up and it’s very enjoyable.

      Reply
  2. Good luck, keep us posted…

    Reply
  3. Drink lemon aid. If it works on furniture no tellin what it can do for writtin.

    Reply
  4. Laura, I love the Pledge analogy. Shine up your work and let her fly. My favorite part of the process is the rush and excitement of the first draft … the least are the drafts, revisions, edits and rewrites in the middle. The second best is when she shines and you know … you did good :)

    Reply
  5. I enjoy the begining and the ending but rarely the middle. and that’s probably because I always have trouble in the middle. but it’s always great to get to the end and enjoy your creation and labor.

    good luck on your writing. I’m sure it’s already beaming with bright joy, or something similar.

    Reply
    • Middles are often difficult to get through. I agree with you there. Just so much filling to add. Beginnings are always fun. It’s when the idea is born and it’s always exciting. There’s always a great sense of accomplishment once we get there though.Until the next bright idea comes and we’re back to the beginning again.. :)

      Reply
  6. I love writing the first draft… the anticipation and excitement of a new journey. Then again, I enjoy revisions, too. My problem is tending to revise the life out of something. I go over and over a story until I’m sick of it! By then I think it’s so bad it’s not worth sending out, so I stuff it away and begin a new story. It’s a vicious circle! :D

    Reply
    • I hear you on the “revising the life out of something,” Carol. I’ve found myself changing a word or two in a paragraph. I mean really.

      Most authors seem to share your sentiment about disliking a story they’ve worked on for a long time. I remember that while working on the edits for Bitter, Sweet thinking that I wasn’t even sure if it was any good. But once I read my book I fell in love with it all over again… :) It was certainly worth while.

      Reply
  7. My favorite part is hammering out that first draft. :-) Editing and revising can be a challenge but it is so interesting to watch the story change and evolve into its final form.

    Reply
  8. I can see that many of you feel the same way about that first draft. While I enjoy gettig the story down I can’t help but love seeing that finishing shine. :)

    Reply
  9. I’m always so relieved when the first draft is finished because then I can finally get down to the part of writing that I really enjoy. The first draft is always less than my best–messy, disjointed, clumsy, sometimes inspired. I love going back and finding the great nuggets that are going to build my story and working out how to join them together with stronger words, scenes, even chapters. In my writing life, the first draft is a necessary evil and the edits are the labours of love. Different strokes…

    Reply
    • I do wish I was one of those writers who can write a first draft straight through. I’ve tried, but I can’t seem to stop myself from looking back, getting new ideas and changing it as I go. I think by now it is too late for me to change my ways.

      Reply
  10. I’m the same. I love revising, polishing, making it shine brilliantly. Haha. Okay, maybe brilliant is overkill. But I know exactly what you mean, Laura. And that reminds me of the first time I met another writer online, and suddenly all those weird, strange thoughts, well dang, my friend had the same ones.

    It’s our community. I don’t own any Pledge cans today. Do they even make them anymore? But I still love the shiny look to my wood furniture. Especially my floors. And when I’m revising, and I’ve just written something that makes me feel brilliant, well, there’s just nothing like it.

    Happy polishing.

    Joylene Nowell Butler, Author

    Excuse the link, but Carol just today taught me how to insert them. I’ll get over the excitement soon, I expect.

    Reply
    • Joylene, I actually saw some lemon Pledge today! So they definitely still make it. :) Nothing beats a shiny wood finish unless that’s a shiny manuscript.

      Glad you had fun playing. I didn’t know you could add those links. Neat!

      Reply
  11. I’m looking forward to pulling out my NaNo project and seeing what I have to work with. Now get back to work, I’ll polish the piano.

    Reply
  12. I gave my piano to my daughter. It’s hers to polish now. :)

    Writing .. I don’t know if I really get anything to shine, but I sometimes think I see a little gleam or maybe the beginnings of a sparkle there. Currently I’m waiting and hoping that a story I submitted to a contest places. If I hear nothing this month, then I’ll know it just didn’t shine bright enough — or at least not there.

    My favourite part of writing? That’s a tough question for me since I have not written and completed enough to compare, but …
    I think getting ideas down as they come to me is exhilarating. Then reading it over and adding in the extra oomph, working on the life and growth of the story, filling it out, is encouraging. What I find difficult is details to tie things together, and then what’s a bit more stressful is the finalizing stage. What I may consider to be a great shine may not be what someone else feels is enough of one.

    Laura, I have no doubt that most of what you write, if not all when truly finished, shines.

    Reply
  13. You’re very sweet, Lynn. But I can assure you I’ve written my share of stories that didn’t have a bit of luster, let alone shine. It happens to us all.

    I think when writing we have to keep our sights on being true to who we are, not trying to imagine what someone else might want us to write. It goes without saying that each person who reads out work will either like it or they won’t. In the end we can only produce the best story they we’re capable of producing. It sounds as though you learning a lot as you go along. I can say for a fact that even once you’ve been published there will be plenty more to learn. That is why we must read the work of other authors, and examine the way they tell a story. See what’s there that you like and what you don’t.. The writer’s journey never ends.. :)

    Reply
  14. the first draft, the discovery of the story and my characters.

    Right now, I’m using pledge as well though.

    Happy shining!

    Reply
  15. Thanks Jennifer. Happy shining to you as well. :)

    Reply

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