Something new for the new year

new years blog image

Happy new year!

Holy moly, I have absolutely sucked at blogging this year. This might be my second or third post? I don’t even know and I’m way too lazy to even bother checking. Anyhow, for the past few new years’ days, I’ve taken a few minutes to ‘burn’ a work that seemed to have died the previous year. I’m not doing that this year. In part because I haven’t actually finished anything new and in part because The Dark Queen of Darkness didn’t die this year. Last year at this time, I was pretty sure that’s what was going to happen. My wife, however, convinced me to just get off my lazy ass and just self-publish the damn thing.

I made the decision to go forward with Self-Publishing back in August as a 40th birthday gift. While this is proving to be a little bit on the expensive side, it’s still cheaper than trading in my car for a faster model or other similarly foolish mid-life crisis activity.

The status so far is that developmental edits are back from the editor (The extraordinary Jettimus Maximus) and I’m working through them. The suggestions she’s sending along are thoughtful, helpful, and very much in-line with my vision for this story. As I write this, I’ve worked through roughly the first hundred or so pages of the book a couple of times. What I’ve got revised so far still needs a lot of work, but I’m liking the changes so far. The narrative does feel tighter.

This is my first time working with an editor for creative work. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the developmental edit. What struck me about it so far is that it isn’t anything like a critique. We’ve all done those and they definitely serve a purpose, but that’s not what this is about. It’s structural and focuses on things like themes and character development, plot and pacing. To be honest, it covers the ground that a typical critique or beta-read is going to miss. Those often recommend suggestions to tighten up your writing or will help you find issues, but won’t necessarily provide you with concrete strategies for correcting the issue or finding larger problems that aren’t obvious.

Sometime in the past, I wish I could recall when or the actual context, I read a blog post posing the question: Do I need a developmental editor? I don’t recall the conclusion, but it seems like it ran something like: It’s a nice to have, not an essential. At this point, I think that my conclusion is that this is an essential cost. No, many of us can’t afford to hire someone. It’s not free, nor should it be, but there are editors out there who will do this for a reasonable price. What’s more, if you intend to sell your book and it’s been well polished, you’re going to sell more copies, thus the cost of editing should pay for itself.

If you’re considering a developmental edit, and you should be, but don’t know who to go to, I would recommend Jette.

In any case, I’ve got a tremendous amount of work still to go on this book, maybe even more than it took to write to begin with, but I’m now convinced that it’ll be money well spent and readers will find this story a page-turner with endearing characters and at least a few laugh-out-loud moments.

Progress Report – Wine Bottles & Broomsticks

Winebottles_Broomsticks

I haven’t made nearly as much progress as I’d have liked after the first full draft was completed. My goal was to have it revised by last week, but that just didn’t happen. Work, side projects and working-out have gotten in the way. This weekend wasn’t any different. Yesterday I spent two hours at the gym, then we did a family day – movies & dinner. After a gentle prod from the twitterverse, I got kicked into high gear again and sat down to continue revising. So far, I’ve written 3 new chapters and extended another one by about a thousand words. Today’s goal, after laundry, shopping, and cooking is to work those three chapters in and finish revising and first-round editing the final third of the book.

Considering that the last book I tried to write took about 10 years to finish and I haven’t even thought about hitting it again for revisions, this is excellent progress for me. For those interested, I am planning a second book and there is a lot of material in this one that will feed into the second. For the second, I’ve got a basic outline, a few scenes have been sketched and there’s a theme I’m working around. So, all-in-all, not much to show, yet, but I’m working on it.

When I get this one buttoned up for a 2nd full draft, you’ll hear me crowing all about it. So, back to it…

Am I buzy or just lazy?

Yesterday morning I wrote a blog. It wasn’t a super good blog and it was the first in a month. I sat down and wrote it mostly because I was getting ready to get on an Airplane and didn’t want to get neck deep in reworking a chapter of Wine Bottles & Broomsticks before I had to get out of there. So, what the heck have I been up to? You might imagine that I was steadfastly working on NaNoWriMo. That was true for about the first week. I hit just over 10K words and then stopped. I didn’t stop because I got writer’s block or I was stuck or because I’m a whiny little diva who didn’t have the perfect writing conditions. No, I stopped because the story was starting to meander, I didn’t have a good sense of my character development, and the adventure felt too easy, there wasn’t enough tension (Bottom line: I didn’t like where it was going). Early on, I’d decided to pants it, so outside of a vague idea of certian plot points, I wasn’t sure where it’d go, which is fine. At this point (assuming you’ve read this far) you might be wanting to give me the same advice a ton of others continually do: The whole point of NaNoWriMo is just to get it down, finish it up later. 

The bad news is that I don’t really work that way.

I’m way to lazy for that. Many of us (most? all?) need to re-write a lot and I’m well aware of that fact, so I shouldn’t be scared of rewriting a story. I mean, I’m going to do it regardless and I’m glad. That said, NaNoWriMo taught me something I think I already know -That’s just not how I write. I go in jags – write a lot, think a lot write a lot repeat. I like to work out scenes in my head before trying to get them down. It requires a bit of mental juggling and I do run the risk of forgetting witty or interesting story elements, but in a lot of ways it’s just the same as getting down a thousand words of draft and re-working it until it seems to flow. In this process, the actual draft writing is a bit further down the road to a well fleshed out idea than it might have otherwise been. 

Unfortunately, I’ve not been following this process over the month either. I’ve been mostly programming. It’s another creative outlet for me and also results in a tool at the end that I can use for stuff – like work. The project I was working on is super cool and has been a lot of fun. It’s been a writing detox. The trip to Orlando was awesome because it was a reset that on one end paused the programming  project for a while, put some space beteen me and the Nano project that I’ve decided to put off for a little while, and on the other end got me back into Wine Bottles and Broomsticks. Sometime near the end of the week, I started really trying to change gears I think that happened on Friday night. Certianly as I was trekking across country I got back in the groove. It’s not that I didn’t write on the way down or in the spaces of time after class and dinner and things, it’s just that I wasn’t connecting with what I was working on, and it wasn’t going well. I realized I had really hit the groove again somewhere in the first layover. I saw a dude walking around and was inspired for a character in the book. A woman in line felt like good inspiration too. She had this odd expression as she surveyed the crowd. Her eyes would land on a dude and linger for a while. She wasn’t checking him out physically. I felt like she was mentally checking out his wallet. It’s been a while since I’ve been in the frame of mind of inventing intentions and characters on the faces of people I don’t know and it felt great.

So. There I am. Not lazy, just distracted. Also, I think I’m going to try and make a better effort at updating this blog as I bring Wine Bottles in toward the finish. I’m about 2/3rds of the way in now and I can feel the end. Loads of work remains. The rising action doesn’t rise and the stakes don’t feel very high so I’ve got to work on that, but all of the foundations are there. 
Tomorrow I’m off to the coffee shop in the morning to drop a bit of time on the writing, for now – date night.