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If you read my last post, you know that I somehow managed to put away all the holiday decorations right after Christmas. Despite this, I wondered if I’d been too quick to pull the plug because I kept thinking about different ways to decorate a tree and whether I’d use a traditional tree or barren branches stuck in an urn. I fantasized about making giant paper mache ornaments that I could place on the floor next to my imaginary tree. Chandelier crystals? A tree skirt of moss?

I looked at trees on-line. Orange and red ones, white and pink trees. And when I went to Safeway to stock up on healthy veggies and fiberous foods, I found Bambi’s daddy in the floral department sporting a $7.99 price tag. I felt sorry for him lurking between the other sale priced holiday items so I brought him home.

 He doesn’t have a name. Any suggestions?  

Besides thinking of Christmas in January, I jumped on the resolution bandwagon. There’s more veg than protein and carb in the fridge. The treadmill has been in constant use. Just ask my thighs. My only daily indulgence is a single, highly caloric Swiss chocolate. A reward for sticking to my week-long routine, a routine I hope I’ll stick with at least until February. 

The manuscript for book two is coming along. Nicely. I’m grinning a lot. A good sign. At times, I wave my arms and howl with laughter at the situation I’ve created for my characters. Maybe that’s why the next door neighbors give me funny looks whenever I venture outside.

It took a long time to finish the revision for my first book. But I realized it was important to take my time. I cut over 38K words and then tacked on another 1,500 during the process. A lot of my favorite scenes ended up in the junkyard file because they were redundant or didn’t move the story along. The rewrites, a result of cuts and moving scenes around, tested my perseverance. Caffeine and peanut M&Ms kept me sane. 

Though the premise and characters remain unchanged, the story is leaner, smoother. As I revised, I got to know my characters better. I learned a lot about my writing, more than I ever could have acquired in a workshop, which for me was as important as finishing a book.

While there’s always room for improvement, I’m happy with it. For now. I remind myself that chasing perfection is like trying to eat a cloud. 

I’m a tweaker. I can’t stop tweaking. Someone I follow on Twitter stated that changes in a story might make it different but not necessarily better. Good advice.

I write fast but have a tendency to edit what I’ve written…paragraph by paragraph. This slows the process considerably. Here’s an analogy…it’s like dropping food on the floor and not picking it up until after the meal is over. I can’t do that. I have to clean it up before I can continue eating. 

I’m envious of writers who can pound out a fast draft and go back and fix everything later. In the past, I spent a lot of time searching for that perfect word. Now, I’ll highlight the word I want to change and move on. I even wrote the last scene for my book. I keep telling myself to get the words down and tweak later.  

Writing the second book isn’t easier. In some ways, it’s more difficult because I’ve grown (I hope! Carrie, stop laughing.) as a writer and set the bar higher for myself. I’ve learned to avoid some of the pitfalls I experienced in the first book. I hope to finish the second book within the next four months.

I’m forever grateful to my CPs and Beta Girls for their frank input. Heartfelt thanks to Carrie, Becke, Linda and Lynn, and to author Loucinda McGary, who critiqued my first three chapters and taught me a few tricks. I’m a more confident writer because of them. 

Happy New Year!

Have you learned to shed your bad writing habits? Established new writing goals for 2012?