Friday, December 3, 2010

How Writing is like Sanding

Happy Monday, y'all!

Sorry I've been a bit MIA, but with an ever-changing schedule and ill children, my butt has had great difficulty finding its way back to my computer. LOL.

Today, I want to discuss how writing (GOOD writing) is like sanding.

For those of you who don't know, my partner is a chainsaw artist and incredible home-do-it-yourself-er-just-as-well-as-those-construction-baffoons-for-less-than-half-the-price people. Yeah. She's that good.

Anyway, between home construction and carvings, there is much sanding to be done. Enter the giddy nerd who just loves to sand.

That would be me, folks.

Yep, she taught me how to use the orbital sander, and I haven't looked back!

It's a blast! Sawdust flying all over - making you look old because it covers your hair. Getting black lung if you inhale it. Yeah, good stuff. ;)

So, one day, I was sanding the antique floors in out new home-to-be and I watched my little sander dig and grind away to peel off the old layers of dirt, weathering, and even some of the old dents. God I love what sanding can do to wood!

But, as I watched my floor become revitalized, I thought about how that applies to writing.

GOOD writing should peel away those old layers. The layers of dirt and weathering. The layers that are scratched and imperfect. Good writing slowly grinds all of those defects away and you're left raw and vulnerable. Naked and as unmarked as the day you were born. Seriously. That's what sanding does to wood, and that is what we as writers should be doing (and readers get to reap the benefits).

First, you have your coarse sanding pad.

That's the rough stuff that gets rid of all the big black, nasty dirt. It leaves the wood with a feeling of texture. This is your rough draft. It's rough, it's coarse, but it gets the main job done. The first part is always the hardest, right? The hardest part of writing a book is actually writing it! Using the rough sanding paper can be tough at times, but it's worth it in the end. Just like seeing your completed first draft.

Second, is your mid-grade sanding pad.

This is where you're editing. You go back into those crevices and make sure they are truly cleaned out. You go over the wood again to make sure it's looking good and clean. You'll notice, it starts to feel smooth to the touch. Just like a well-edited draft is smooth to read.

Finally, you have your fine sanding pad.

This is the final detail work. You go over the wood with the fine pad just to polish it up. When you're writing, this is adding those few final touches that really make your piece shine. Know what happens when you touch wood that's been sanded with fine grit paper? It is so smooth! It's an incredible feeling. So is that final, complete, beautiful manuscript! Those details are what make your story smooth and gorgeous. It completes the process.

You need all three steps just like you need all 3 grits in order to have a solid, complete work.

You have all heard me say that Imperfect and Impeccable are my "standing in front of the world naked" books. And they are. I took a figurative sander to myself and kept digging until I was light and raw and unblemished. What you have is a set of two very increbly powerful and touching books. The first of which has been receiving some great accolades thus far. These books are nothing like what you've read in the past. They are touching, tragic, sweet and sad. They are personal. They are gritty. They are raw.

So, the next time you sit down to write, stop and think. Do you want to look like another old, weathered wooden board that someone is just going to throw away or you do want to look revitalized, new, different? Sanding yourself equates to damn good reading!

Happy weekend and happy reading, everyone! :)

No comments: