Thursday, April 15, 2010

Experiments and Loss

I would have some sort of brilliant post up and going this morning except that last night I lost part of my file for my current novella, and I can blame it all on my netbook crashing and dying, and now I have to take it in to be repaired. I hate that feeling - of having spent about 5 hours on something and then it's completely gone.

So what will I be doing today? Reconstructing my work. I only lost 1,300 words, but I remember being quite pleased with some of those passages!

Please don't leave comments about backing up my work. I already know all about it (I have about 6 different forms of backing up my work!), how to do it, and why I should. This was simply the one time I forgot, and I'll be looking into one of those online programs that backs up your documents automatically.

Anyway, this all makes me think of memory.

If you had to rewrite your entire novel, would you? Could you? I've actually done this when I decided to rewrite my entire novel, Monarch, earlier in the year. It took me 3 months. And although I began by opening up a fresh document, I still had my old document to refer to for all the great lines I had before. I'm going to conduct an experiment for us today! Let's test that writerly memory of yours...

Spring had melted into summer by the time she made it back to the meadow. The grass was thick and green, cool on her neck when she lay down. She stared up at the sky, the branches with their crisp new leaves, the birds chattering around her.

When he appeared, his clothes were new, lighter, his suede boots making no sound as he walked. Small white flowers were still in his hair, like the stars echoed in his eyes.

"Did you remember me?" he asked.

She nodded as he helped her to his feet, his fingers long and slender. He led her to a path she had never seen before, and told her to remove her shoes. The dirt was soft between her toes. The world began to sing.


This is a small passage of what I remember writing and losing. I've quickly typed it out of my head, but I don't think it's anywhere near what it was before. Still, I suppose, the basic idea is there. The problem is that I fall in love with my writing not only for what happens, but how I say things, and when I lose all of that, it's a bit disheartening.

My challenge to you is: Without re-reading it, retype the first paragraph into the comments section strictly from memory. See how well you do. Maybe you'll come up with something better. Please try! Addendum: Okay, you can re-read it and then go try and type it in the comments.

I will choose a random winner from the entries for a first-page critique by me of either a short story or novel or poem or whatever you're working on. I will choose the winner Monday morning, the 19th.

Also, I'm published today! This helps alleviate my pain. Go to the Rose & Thorn journal to check out my flash-fiction piece, This.

26 comments:

  1. Aww, hugs! As for rewriting I had to do it too. But I did have the original (for part) staring at me to reference.

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  2. Hmm...

    "Spring had melted into summer by the time she returned to the meadow. The grass was long and flowing in the fresh breeze. It was cool on her neck as she lay gazing at the sky, the brightening branches of trees, the squirrels dancing in the crisp air."

    Okay, I completely forgot what your paragraph said. Erm.. there we go then.

    P.S. I hope never to have to rewrite any of my stories from memory. I know I'll have to, but I hope not to. Don't shatter my dream yet. Thanks.

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  3. Stephanie: Where's your paragraph? Come on! I'm sorry to hear you had to rewrite, too. It's much easier when it's an open-book rewrite. :)

    Simon: Nice! I LOVE that you added squirrels. I don't know why, but that just makes me smile.

    Rewriting happens, whether it's intentional or something like this. It's a good test to strengthen my memory, I suppose.

    Thank you for your paragraph!

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  4. Yeah. Spring was the first word, and then, um... I got distracted because I thought it sounded like it was a girl. I loved the images, but there's no way I could remember without cheating. So I'll be honest. I can hardly do this sort of thing with my own writing that I've agonized over.

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  5. Lois: I will count you as trying!

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  6. All I remember was "Spring melted into summer" and like Lois, I am can't remember anymore. To my defense, I have a terrible memory.

    However, it was a beautiful passage. Keep at it. :)

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  7. Crimey: All attempts count! Mainly because I don't suspect a lot of people will participate. I could be proven wrong. But consider yourself in. :)

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  8. Shoot! I already can't remember. See how good I am. I have to rewrite a chapter that I was sure I saved, but can't find anywhere. It makes me sad. Oh well. =)

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  9. Everyone, I just added an addendum that you can re-read the paragraph and then type it in. I'm thinking it was too difficult to remember if you didn't know you were going to have to remember it. I guess it doesn't really matter. This is all just for fun. :)

    Carolyn: I've had that happen, too!

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  10. Spring had melted into summer by the time she returned to the meadow. The grass was thick and green, and felt good on her neck when she lay down. The breeze was crisp, and clouds floated across a sky as bright as the stars reflected in his eyes. Birds were chirping in the in the background.

    Wow; not easy. Not nearly as good as I remember your original. I think if I lost my work I'd like to recapture the feeling of the original, but that it would be better to use almost entirely new inventions rather than try to incorrectly call to mind what I'd done before. Because you get a weak copy of the original rather than something fresh and new on its own.

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  11. Spring had melted into summer by the time she made it back to the meadow. The grass was thick and cool against her neck as she lay down on it. Above her the branches were growing new leaves.

    That's all I remember. I doubt it's very helpful! I'm sorry you lost some of your writing, Michelle, but I always take comfort in the idea that your best writing will return to you. I often rewrite my own passages from memory to find out that some of my favorite lines come back, even if it's unintentional.

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  12. Spring had melted into summer when she returned to the meadow. The long flowing grass felt good on her neck as she lay watching the clouds drift across the blue sky. New leaves were emerging from buds on the branches gently waving in the breeze. Sweet birdsong lulled her into a light slumber.

    In my defense, this is not the type of writing I usually do.

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  13. Spring had melted into summer by the time she returned to the meadow. The grass was lush and cool on her neck as she lay down, staring into the cloudless sky. The birds chattered away, their delicate feet perched on branches sporting crisp new leaves.


    Okay, so I cheated a little bit (primarily because my first attempt didn't make much sense after I re-read it). I'm sorry about your loss of the words, but congrats on the publication.

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  14. Spring had melted into summer by the time she got back to the meadow. The grass was cool and thick against her neck. Birds chattered in the leafy green above.

    Oh, well, I think I remember the gist of the scene. I find that is the part that matters in reconstruction. Sometimes I don't have anything to write on when I get an idea but if I visualize it, I can write it later. One writer I heard once said if he lost every he wrote it wouldn't matter, because he was a writer, so he would write again.

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  15. Thanks for your entries, everyone! This is really fun to see reconstructions of the same paragraph.

    Tricia: That's a very true statement! That makes me feel better, so thank you. :)

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  16. Spring had melted into Summer by the time she made it back to the meadow. The trees were blooming and the grass felt cool on her neck as she lay gazing up at the sky, watching birds flying back and forth.

    Hmmmm. Now I'm going to go back and read it and see how I did. :)

    Congrats on your piece in Rose and Thorn. I loved it! Have I possibly read it before? It sounded familiar. Maybe it just sounded like you. :)

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  17. Not even going to try!

    But . . . this is a perfect example of why I sometimes write scenes/chapters out of order. I know if I don't put pen to paper, right then and there, then I'm not going to be able to recreate it in exactly the same way when I eventually get to that point. : )

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  18. I'm still revising the opening, so I'd probably wind up with yet another new version instead of the old. At least with rewriting, you can sometimes come up with something better.

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  19. Thanks for the comments everyone! This is lovely to have you participate.

    Missy: Nice to see you around! Yes, you've seen that piece before, I do believe. Maybe. I did it in college, but I'm not sure exactly when. It's never been published anywhere.

    Scott: Not even trying! Gah! Oh well, that's okay.

    Tara: Yes! There is always the hope of something better!

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  20. Spring had melted into summer by the time she made it back to the meadow. The grass was thick and green, staining her dress when she lay down. She stared up at the sky, the birds with their crisp new feathers, the trees scattering around her.

    When he appeared, his clothes were new, lighter, possibly Italian; certainly not ready-wear. Small white flowers were still in his hair, like the stars echoed in his eyes.

    "Did you just text me?" he asked.

    She nodded as he held her to his feet, his fingers wrong and slender. He sledded her to a path she had never seen before, and scolded her to remove her shoes. The dirt was soft between her toes. Her toes began to sing.

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  21. Scott: Nice. I think I will definitely use that one instead of mine. ;)

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  22. Michelle: Sorry, I couldn't resist.

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  23. I'm still laughing over the texting line. That's great! Now I'm going to write Cinders imagining them all with cell phones in their dresses and pockets. Hehehe.

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  24. "Spring had melted into summer by the time she returned to the meadow. The grass was crisp and wet against her neck. Her eyes were drawn to the sky, filtered through branches of the tree above her, webbed across the sky."

    Totally hard, Michelle! For me, this is a major lesson in backing up because *cringe* I don't really do it.

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  25. I'll give it a try.

    Spring had aged into summer by the time she returned to the meadow. She mopped sweat from her brow, thankful for the soft wind blowing from the east. She spread the blanket on the grass and settled her self comfortably, laying on her back, knees bent, and her face tilted up at the sky. All was quiet except for the hushed murmur of leaves and a gentle buzz of flies.

    "Do you remember me?" A voice said

    She did, all too well. She sat up, not exactly surprised. "I thought you were in prison."

    "Broke out just this morning," He said, pointing the gun at her head. "Now get up to your feet, and take of your shoes."

    She did as she was told, and he directed her to a path she had never been on before. The grass was traded for dirt and sticks. There were patches where the earth might have felt good against the soles of her feet, but mostly the going was rough. If she ran, she wasn't getting far, not without shoes. And he knew it, giving her a wink and a little chuckle.

    She listened for any hint that another person might be out hiking. All she heard was the buzz of flies, now frenzied and growing intensity. A little further on the smell of decay stabbed her in the face. She stopped in her tracks.

    "Don't kill me."

    "Now why would I do that," he said. "I just wanted to show my maggot farm."

    "Escaping prison and escorting me at gun point is a little extreme don't you think?" She said.

    He looked at the gun, titled his head and said, "Oh. Right. My bad. This is just for the raccoons. Can't have a maggot farm with the raccoons eating all my product."

    "We can't have that now can we?" She threw her hand in the air.

    "Just kidding," he said and shot her.

    Then he threw her body over his shoulder and carried it to the pit filled with all the other dead people he used to know.

    "Twelve down and thirty-seven to go."

    I'm sorry, but I couldn't help myself=)

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  26. Zuccini: Ummmm, thanks for the...rewrite. After yours and Scott's excerpts I think, somehow, this scene isn't going to make it back into my book. It's supposed to be from a dream, which is why it's all wispy and whatever, but now I'm not going to be able to continue without guns and cell phones parading in. You both have very active imaginations. :)

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