Author Queries to Self

How self-referential can you get? If you write about writing, you can get pretty damn self-referential.

I leave notes to myself all over the page when I write as well as when I edit other people’s work. Notes to myself are written in all caps so they stand out and I appear to be yelling at myself.

I am yelling at myself, not because I think I suck all the time, but because I hope the yell will capture the fierceness of my desire to get it better next time, to explain it correctly, to find the right place for that kick-ass but dreadfully misplaced line.

My queries range from EXPLAIN OR MOVE to MORE  to WRITE THIS BETTER to the more measured “Possibly cut” and the less-measured “Gah” or “What the fuck am I trying to say here?” But the Author Query to Self of the day for yesterday was:

Cut “for a poem”? Does anyone really care?

Does anyone care? What notes do you leave for yourself?

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10 responses to “Author Queries to Self

  1. I care.

    Looking around at my own notes:

    Post its with “Callipygian”, “Girl in Steel Corset (Cross)” and “Umayyad caliphate — disintegrated into Taifa kingdoms”

    First notes in my current MS: “Vince wouldn’t say that — give it to Saul.” “Hugs? Really?” “Moved this to Ch. 2 — cut and bandage.” “NO!!! It’s not there, it’s in the kitchen, you idiot.”

  2. “Ick.” And it always means the same specific thing, purple prose that need be there some reason but must be rewritten. Immediately. (See also “Ew.”)

  3. My drafts are always studded with {more here} when I run out of steam for a particular thought and want to move on. Sometimes there are a whole string of {more here}s, and then I come back to them and start writing things in the margin that are less kind and concise. Like {what the fuck were you trying to say, dumbass? you couldn’t write a sentence or two before you went off to play on Pinterest?}

  4. Sorry it’s taken me so long to comment but I’m in the process of trying to understand what self referential means. Really, I’m not joking.

    • Nothing to apologize for. I take self-referential here to mean commentary about commentary (how Talmudic). It might not be the exactly correct usage, but I’m writing about writing, and commenting on commenting on writing.

      • Okay, now I get it. I can be very obtuse at times (You should see my 11 year old trying to teach me how to use my iphone!)

        Writing notes to oneself would mean that I would have to read myself, right? It is, of course, a necessary part of being a writer but what if reading yourself gives you the willies? What then?

      • I see my note-taking voice and my writing voice as two different things. So I write notes to myself the way I talk, but I try to write better than I talk (and, lord, if you knew me, you would understand why). I don’t shrink from the notes, just from the text.

        My recent epiphany is that intense hatred of a passage sometimes is just a matter of boldly deleting the part I hate and making it so I hate it less. Strangely enough this works, using hatred to my advantage.

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