“Artists are people who are not at all interested in the facts—only in the truth. You get the facts from outside. The truth you get from inside.” --Ursula K. LeGuin

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Write Drunk Edit Sober

I think I used that title before. However, I'm using it again. My site told me it only takes 2 minutes, 48 seconds to read this post. My kind of read. Read it and get on with it.

I wrote drunk, now I am editing sober. 

 I was not drunk with alcohol or any other mood-altering substances. I was drunk with inspiration. 

Write when you are drunk with the pleasure of living. Write when you are drunk with words bursting to land on a page. Write when the Muse visits—if you don't, you ought to be smacked.

When you come in for a landing, edit. That's being sober. 

 (Even if a writing class teacher swore to you this "Write drunk, edit sober" advice came straight from the mouth of Ernest Hemingway it is actually a quote from a fictional character. Mariel Hemingway, Ernest's granddaughter, said the author wrote and edited sober.) 

Since Hemingway had a reputation for drinking a lot, he had to write drunk, right? Actually, he didn't. He wrote first, then celebrated.

I was drunk with reaching my goal of 50,000 words in my memoir. In editing, they went down to 48,000 and up to 53,000; I had some repeats, and now I'm at 50,323. If you are a writer, you know about first drafts—don't let anyone see them. 

I wondered and felt insulted that a writing process called NaNoWriMo encouraged writers to write a novel in a month. They don't mention the time to rewrite.

Somewhere I read that Margaret Mitchel spent 30 years on Gone with the Wind, but online it says she spent only 3. It's hard to know what to believe anymore. They did practically have to rip that manuscript out of her hands to get it published, though, as she kept it hidden under a blanket when people visited. She wrote the last chapter first and rearranged the chapters, and it went on to sell 30 million copies. 

Now, though, after my exercise, I see the value of keeping the hands moving. Don't look at the words; that way, you are more into feeling than thinking. You will end up with a mess but words on a page.

 Okay, now you are sober. Edit the damn thing.

As time passes in this writing endeavor, I remember little past things like V-Mail. For years I had a letter from my father when he was in the war. But after repeated searches, I believe it went with our wedding pictures when we were packing to move to Hawaii. You know how it can be; you put things away for safekeeping, and they are the ones that get lost. We sold some things to a man who agreed to sell them on eBay, and some of my best things disappeared. Unfortunately, I was not on top of the process. 

V-mail is short for Victory-mail, and few know of it now. During the war, yes, WWII, since mail was stacking up with letters from soldiers to home and from home to soldiers, someone came up with a brilliant plan. 

The sender would write their letter on a specified sheet of paper—it would only hold so many words. A reader would check for secrets and black them out if need be, and the letters would be on their way.

 The plan was OO7 inspired.

 It was microfilmed and sent by airmail.

 Microfilmed—yep, in WWII. When the mail arrived in the US, it came as a photographed letter, about 4 or 5 inches. The writer needed to print large enough, so the words would be readable on the other end.

With this method, they saved much-needed room in the airplane. Contrast microfilm to bags upon bags of mail. Online it says they don't think they ever lost a letter using that method.

 Over the years, I repeatedly read my two little letters from my dad. One was from Italy, "You thought I would only be gone for a while, didn't you?" He had beautiful printing and drew bunnies along the bottom of the page. And he called me Princess, although I never knew he called me that. 

 I only saw my father once after the war, but then 38 years later, I met him again.



In lieu of my beautiful letter.