Veronique Darwin

Strict Notes

In My Writing on June 10, 2012 at 4:36 pm

The power of my writing is most evident in the brash notes I scrawl to myself on the margins of my drafts. I figure that if I write these clever suggestions down then the work is almost done, the task I assigned myself almost completed.

(taken on my MacBook)

The notes on my first draft are encouragements like “Good,” or kind reminders like “Be wary of time lapses like these.”

Some are questions to a later self: “What should each road trip segment begin with?” Maybe that one was actually a teacher-like prompt to always remember to use a capital letter.

Some notes are sophisticated, out to impress: “Jillian’s pseudo-amnesia should serve a critical plot purpose.”

Then I find these game changers: “I don’t think Jillian’s parents should die,” “Jillian doesn’t work at this bar,” (and later, on the same page, “Jillian doesn’t work here!”)

Certain notes are only for me to work out: “kind of like a trust fund, but not Eastcoast USA.”

Some notes mock me: “I muttered” is just repeated in quotation marks next to the original, to make myself aware I’m writing stupid.

Some require so much work! “A sense of freedom… change words, sentence structure, settings, action…”

Some are from a God-like writing mentor. “Describing people sets the scene just as well as describing the setting or the scene. Be attentive, do this well.”

Often the notes are so vague and indecisive they prove to be no help. “Remove (impermanently) moments that go nowhere.”

Other notes are so stern: “Jillian does not say this,” and “You can’t just make ppl rejoin the group when you never mentioned they left.”

Then there are these beauties, where I sit back and say, yeah, that’s right, and I feel motivated to change things. “Jillian cannot be this bright and okay in a conversation with a stranger the night after her life fell apart even more.”

But then my later self sits down to edit, with a pen and all these sticky notes and pink margin scrawls, and she sits back appreciatively and thinks, what’s the use in changing things when this note was so on the mark?

(“Actually, this ending is really predicatable. But good on returning to the original thought that started off the blog post.”)

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