You Again and Again and Again and Again . . .

So this time I am going to finish a book. I’ve got three different major projects started (not counting the minor ones) and I want to work along with the McDaniel students so I had to pick one and get serious. It’s You Again.

I have 60,000 words done, most of them unpublishable. So I gathered up everything I’d done on the book since 2002 when I started it. Four hundred and eighty-one documents and folders with more documents in them. I made four new folders: Drafts, Notes, Images, Research. I sorted everything I had into those folders, and then I went through and deleted everything that was redundant or unreadable (some of the files did not survive the years).

I cleaned out the Notes Folder last night. Now it has nine folders in it: Blurbs/Titles (6 docs including poetry and the acknowledgements), Character (11 docs), Crits (1 doc), Outlines (54 docs including four synopses), Scrivener (3 docs), Time (4 docs), and the You Again Voodoo doc. That’s a lot of notes, and it doesn’t count the research docs (26). All of which I have to wade through. Plus the images folder: 264 jpgs, and I’m missing a lot so there’s another folder of those some place.

And then there’s the drafts folder. Dear God, I did keep writing. Over four hundred documents in there. I started that over a decade ago and never stopped writing it. I think that’s either a good sign–I really want to write it–or a bad sign–I obviously can’t write it. What I’m hoping for is that I’ll find work of such brilliance it will inspire me once again. What I’ll get is a lot of rough draft, much of it useless, some of salvageable with a rewrite.

Oh, well. It’s a process. Now I need to go find what I did with the collage . . .

41 thoughts on “You Again and Again and Again and Again . . .

  1. I am sending all the good vibes I can into the universe and hope you find your inspiration and the voices that help make you the storyteller you are.

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  2. I just choked on my cornflakes about the amount of folders you have for one book. I get the drafts. I understand all 400 of those. But 54 docs in outlines alone stun me. I think I need to go and lie down!

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  3. This wading through sounds discouraging. It’s just an idea and obviously none of my business, but might it not be more inspiring to start afresh and only go looking for things as you find you need them?

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    1. I think Jenny’ll find grains of gold as she rummages through, which will reconnect her with her juice for the project. Then she can ignore the dross and work with the gold. At least, that’s what usually happens when I dig out an old project like this.

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    2. It’s a lot better to get it organized so I don’t have to stop in the middle of something and sort through a bunch of stuff that doesn’t apply.

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  4. Oh my stars. I’m ready to ditch everything when I find I have only 40 files to co-ordinate and cull and look for the gems in.

    But don’t you feel great when you finally say, “There, now I’m all set…”

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  5. Thank you for this. Today I sit down to compile a dissertation outline. After reading the amount of files you have to go through, I’m not quite so intimidated. Not quite.

    It’ll be good to see where I’m at.

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  6. Add me to the list of those who feel much less overwhelmed by a writing project after reading this. I just need to turn several people’s emails and schedules of events and photos assembled into a 2000 word magazine feature, with that magical quality my editor calls “your own voice” that somehow also complies with the received style of the publication. Piece of cake!

    But before I start, I really ought to go around the corner and get some cake…

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  7. That’s a hell of a lot of info and text to wade through, but I imagine you will find what you need in it. Sending good vibes that you find all the gems you need and your juice so the girls can get back to work.

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  8. Wow! Awesome! I love the idea of You Again! See all of those exclamation marks? : )

    I say go roll around in all of those files and soak up the essence of your story, rediscover the passion for it, and then write like a fiend. I’ll wait.

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  9. I can’t wait to hear how this works out. Not only because the books sounds wonderful but also because I’m trying to weed through pieces of my work. I think it would be easier if I had a dedicated space of my own to leave things out while in the process. So, I’m gonna clean up the basement so I can have a table again and a wall and a bookcase. It seems indulgent and not really about the writing but my hope is that once I can get my head around the work that I already have then I can get my head around the work I still need to create.

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    1. Sounds absolutely about the writing to me, Stephanie. You’re creating a sound foundation – and I think clearing a physical space is incredibly helpful in getting your head clear. Good luck.

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    2. Not at all indulgent. As necessary as a pen or pencil or computer. It doesn’t matter where your space is or what it looks like. Some people can write in bars and bus stations. Others need a door that can close. But you need a space that works for you.

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  10. That’s a lot. I know others have said it and it’s redundant but really. A lot. Enough to possibly find a final draft in there somewhere. A connecting scene here. A cut and paste there. I wouldn’t be surprised.

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  11. So much info for one book! I usually have a file for each chapter, and they duplicate and change with each folder-revisions, but here you have a staggering amount of work for one book. I guess, that’s why you’re a bestseller, and so many of us love reading your books. And re-reading them several times too.

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  12. I wish that your Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather (I want to be Merryweather when I grow up.) show up with the Sword of Fabulousness (Truth? This is fiction, we don’t need no stinkin’ truth!) so you can hack through the walls of thorns and brambles that have kept this one from you for so long.

    Then Zelda and Alice and Isolde and the Good Guy can all come out and dance around again. It’ll be brilliant! Scathingly so. 🙂

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  13. Oh thank GOD I’m not the only one. I tried to write a western romance – wrote almost 200K words in 3 separate docs that will most likely never see the light of day. And the loved editor who sent me on that path is no longer with that house. So…Gah…but I’m glad you’re finishing You Again. That means I shall finish my cowboy book. HUGS!!!

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  14. I think it’s amazing you were able to create all that in the first place. Kudos.

    AND that you never lost the files to some computer file-snatcher.

    I keep my book notes in steno notebooks & a few colour-coded Hilroy’s. Only drafts & some research sit in files–across several computers. Getting a backup drive today to amalgamate them.

    Think it’s great you’re working on the book again. Sometimes, when I look at old, unfinished stories of mine, I see a writer’s version of the home show Love It or List It in my head. You know, “Will this writer find the courage to love this story again or will she ditch it?” kind of thing.

    Here’s hoping you find the love of You Again. Again:)

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    1. Agreed that it’s impressive not to have lost the files. I started trying to write romance stories before I’d even had my first kiss, but those files are lost to a computer and format that became obsolete 15 years ago. Probably just as well, but there are some more recent writing efforts that had more promise and have similarly disappeared into the electronic void. On the one hand, there’s a kind of clean slate allure to a brand new computer with no old files on it — no ancient resumes or cover letters, no projects to feel guilty about having left incomplete. On the other hand, I sometimes like reading my own old writing, whether to get a sense of how I’ve improved, or to be a little proud and impressed by something I came up with back then.

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  15. Oh goody. Although not holding my breath either.

    Want me to send anything English? Let me have your address, I have postcards of the Poison Garden which I need to despatch.

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  16. I like having the really important stuff in hard copy form. I find that a lot of ideas that I dump into files are quickly forgotten–out of sight, out of mind.

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  17. Speaking for us newbie McD students I’m glad to hear that you’re working right alongside us. It’s also nice to know that I’m not the only one with files/docs all over the place.

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  18. As another McD newbie, I’ll second Ann’s comment. I find it strangely encouraging to know that everyone struggles with this!

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  19. I had quit writing for a number of years. I kept debating what I wanted to write, and consequently didn’t write anything. Last year I decided to pick one project I’d started and finish it. This was actually a ms of approximately 1/3 rough draft and about a hundred pages of pure dialogue. I’m doing final revisions, now, and about a quarter of the way on a new ms. Picking something, anything, got me back on track. I think this is going to work for you, too. And I categorically don’t believe there’s not lots of good stuff in there. You may find like I did that most of it was salvageable.

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  20. I am always excited to hear about you working on something, anything. I hope you can find plenty salvageable! The creative process is fascinating! That you have and saved and were able to find again, so much material is impressive. I have learned the hard way to back up everything. Glad to hear you still have so much, you may (probably) surprise yourself!

    For some reason my ArghInk updates were going into my Spam folder… I’d wondered where they were, glad to have undone that mistake!

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  21. What excellent news! I always think of organizing notes, research and rough copy as frontloading my brain, so The Girls can get to work. True, you’re working with a teensy bit more stuff, like this guy, but if anyone can do it, you can! Best wishes to you and all the McD writers.

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  22. This makes me so very happy! First, because this means a new book will be coming out from my fave author — you! Second, as an author myself who has been STRUGGLING to write another book and who has the same kind of folders and files and piles and little torn pieces of paper stuck inside journals, etc. on a variety of books I think I want to write someday, but haven’t — this gives me hope. So thank you Jenny Crusie!! And BTW, if you need any new Beta readers I would dearly love to be one of yours!

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