alisa alering

Writer of fantasy and other fictions


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NaNo Now What? — The Great Novel Revision of 2013

Very sad statue in Paris

Photo by Toni Birrer, via Flickr (CC-BY_SA)

In November, I wrote a novel novel-length THING.

On December 1st*, I felt immense relief and deep, personal satisfaction.
On December 2nd, I entered the 6 stages of grief PTSD (Post Draft Stress Disorder):

  1. Talking about how much I hate what I wrote
  2. While secretly fantasizing about how superb (imaginative, yet readable, yet funny, yet brave, yet unexpected, yet deep and touching, yet best-selling, yet critically-acclaimed) it is
  3. But knowing even more secretly how this is completely NOT TRUE
  4. Deciding it was a good experience and I learned a lot but I will never look at this particular lopsided story aberration ever again. It would be the kindest thing to do, truly. Best just to move on.
  5. Remembering that brilliant first draft of that *other* novel I wrote 3 years ago, which would totally TOTALLY be less work to revise–only two weeks, okay a month, tops–after which it would be a best-seller, yet critically-acclaimed, yet funny, yet heart-wrenching, yet…see #2.
  6. Talking it all over with Ashley Hope Perez on a freezing cold morning run, and deciding that the wisest course is to suck it up and REVISE** what I just wrote.***

This morning, I sat down to try to make a plan for THE GREAT NOVEL REVISION OF 2013. I got out my trusty notebook, wrote today’s date at the top of the page and the word, “Plans,” which I underlined 3 times to emphasize my sincerity and determination. And then…

<<< >>>

Yeah. Exactly that. Because you know what? I’ve never revised a novel before. I have no idea what happens, or how long any of it takes. But, you know, learn by doing and all that. Thanks to Nos. 1 & 3, above, I have some ideas about where my story is lacking. And I’ve identified some resources that I think might help:

Did you write a novel for NaNo? Did you write a thing? A half-thing?
Are you going to do anything with it?
What’s YOUR plan?

*Well, actually at about 11:52 am on November 30th
**You smart people saw this one coming, didn’t you? That was always going to be the answer. The shortest distance between two points is….well, if I knew that, I wouldn’t be a writer, now would I?
***Though it’s possible I would have agreed to anything while my brain was popsicled. Seriously, it was colder than a polar bear’s breakfast out there.


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Tube Amps & Frankenstein Fashion: My history with pawn shops

I sometimes work as a photo researcher in order to earn money to buy ridiculous quantities of fresh fruit*, and I come across all kinds of fabulous, kooky, mysterious, sad, inspiring photos. I like to share my finds, and since I recently wrote a story that takes place in a pawn shop, that’s what you’re going to get.

Pawn shop, Beale Street, Memphis, TN. October 1939. Photo by Marion Post Wolcott.

In my teen years, I spent a lot of time rummaging through second-hand and thrift stores, usually looking for some appalling seventies hostess gown that I could dissect and, with my very rudimentary sewing skills, Frankenstein into my idea of fashion. I loved the lives and ideas and the *history*  that welled up in me when I walked into one of those places. The friction I felt was like walking into a library, all those second-hand and gently (and not-so-gently) used goods were just PACKED with stories. I could feel them. I swear. They were stories that I was going to gruesomely cut up and make into new stories, sure, but isn’t that what all good stories are? Little pieces of history and experience stitched together in a new way.

Cleveland, OH [1970s]

Once, I was shopping with a friend who liked to think he was all goth, and he said, “Eww, maybe the person who wore that is dead. Doesn’t that creep you out, to wear a dead person’s clothes?” But, I kind of liked the idea. They were dead, but their clothes were still here. And I was going to take them out of the closet and show them a good time.

Pawn shop [no date], Bain News Service

I thought I was good with the second-hand market until I had a boyfriend who dragged me into a pawn shop looking for old tube amps. Now, *that* was a creepy place. It might have been full of stories, but they weren’t good stories. Instead of the bored/dotty/nosy/grumpy old lady behind the counter there was some big guy in a sleeveless T-shirt and a handlebar moustache. At the time, I don’t think I understood that “pawn” meant a place cash-strapped people went to raise money. I just knew it was a place where I didn’t feel welcome.

*Peaches are the best fruit there is in the world ever, and Monkey** agrees.

**Relevant bit at 10:03

Photos courtesy the Library of Congress and the National Archive