Thursday, May 17, 2012

Writing and Revision: Working with a Manuscript

Last night, instead of head to San Francisco for writing class, I danced in a hip-hop jazz class. It's the first time I felt the full relief of finishing my coursework, and instead of sitting I'm on the move again.

Celebrating our Success--so far
After several non-stop days with eyes glued to computer to the point of vertigo, I turned in the first complete draft of my 175-page manuscript to my MFA adviser for Summer Thesis II. From making line edits to moving whole parts from one essay to another to cutting 35 pages entirely, I based my revisions on the written and verbal feedback I received from last summer's advising as well as from my cohort and instructors in classes where that material was critiqued.

Then I had to put the ten essays in order. Since they are far more associative and topical than chronological, this task proved most challenging--especially since by that point my brain had the consistency of scrambled eggs. Nonetheless, it was amazing to me how many themes or images, without my being conscious of them while writing, linked one essay to another or contributed to a narrative progression, even as there isn't a more traditional narrative arc like in a memoir or novel.


Now my adviser, who is not familiar with any of these pieces, is reading through the whole manuscript with fresh eyes. Next week she will present me with written feedback and we'll discuss next steps in a three-hour meeting. Then I'll have ten weeks to turn in the whole shebang, plus a preface, to her for final copy editing (with three deadlines followed by three more feedback sessions in between).

Thus far, my summer plans include a major overhaul (more cutting away, more development, more rearrangement), which requires rewriting and restructuring. In fact, something I plan to do before our first meeting is to comb through all of my class notebooks on lectures and readings to glean whatever craft techniques I can apply to my own work. I know the margins of those notebooks are filled with scribbled insights, none of which I compiled into a thesis notebook, of course!

In the meantime, I got laid off from my four-year position at the teen parent program childcare. But I've applied for a part-time position as Editorial Assistant at Sonoma Family Life Magazine, I had an interview this week with the Press Democrat for a position as Petaluma Towns Correspondent, and I will soon meet with the founder of a very cool local tutoring center, Go Grade A, which also offers workshops in creative writing, digital storytelling and college essay writing. And I may teach in the fall with Take My Word For It, where I helped secure a local class to expand the program to the north bay!

Coming Up Next--

  • Life After the MFA: Publishing Your Writing
  • Writer Residencies, Fellowships and Retreats

2 comments:

rosaria williams said...

This is the stage that can kill you! It's a real labor of love and sweat at this point. Good luck.

Brian said...

Hi Nicole,

I like your site, you have some interesting posts. My site www.myperfectpitch.com compliments yours, consisting of interesting articles from a published author, and a free writers yearbook with over 1000 book publishers currently accepting submissions. Keep up the good work.

Regards, Brian

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