The long road ahead

Got my critique back on Book 1 of my series….*sigh* Lots of work to do.

I knew I had a lot of “telling,” exposition, wordiness, and adverbs, so those comments weren’t surprising, but I still don’t quite know how to fix the issues. Some pacing issues that I was kind of aware of as well, some that I hadn’t noticed…and a few chapters of different POV that I thought necessary but the readers, not so much. So now I have to also figure out how to convey that info–which my main character has no way of knowing until the end–without switching points of view. Fuck.

It’ll all be worth it in the end, I know, but damn. I’m kind of overwhelmed. Some of the “problems” are part of my personal style, so I have to get into a different mindset to write it “right,” but some of them are things that flustered me to start with and are just beyond my current ability–or maybe just my current confidence–to fix.

The POV thing is really bugging me. I tried to throw in some politics and intrigue and plotting but now what do I do with it? Chuck it all? If I do that, the ending makes no sense. None. It comes out of left field without the snippets of the antagonist’s POV. Hell, the antagonist comes out of left field without them. Although apparently the ending needs a lot of work, too….

There’s a lot of rereading and revising and rereading and brainstorming and crying and tearing my hair out and revising and cursing and… Yeah. It’s like that.

Well, maybe I should take it in stages. Chapter by chapter? Issue by issue? Do I attack the exposition first then the adverbs then the pacing? Ugh. So much all at once. With Whispers of Death, not only was I self-publishing but I was also getting critiques a chapter or two at a time. So it was much less overwhelming as far as fixes go.

I can do this. I have to tell myself that. I can do this. It might take a while, it might take a lot of work, but I can do it. I also have to remind myself that I’m way ahead of schedule as far as where I wanted to be when I made my “new year’s resolution.” I thought it was a reasonable goal to have the first draft of Book 1 finished by the end of the year. Now it’s 2/3 of the way through the year and I’m on like draft 6 or 7 or something crazy like that, plus draft 1 of Book 2 with a few ideas on where to go with Book 3. So I have that going for me.

I can do this. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this….

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Too bad, so sad

Well, I’ve done it again. I’ve gotten so invested in my WIP that the death of a minor character has me choked up.

It’s not really a spoiler to say that, because anyone who follows this blog (or has read my first book) knows I tend to be quite murderous in my writing. Like, mass destruction. Death by fiction. Hey, death happens in life, and in a dystopian sci-fi it’s definitely going to happen. So why do I care if a side character gets killed off?

I guess I could toot my own horn and say that it’s because I’m such a good writer, but let’s face it–I’m still a noob. No, I think the more likely scenario is that I have a soft spot for this person who’s got a whole life and background that’s not even written in. I know their personality, their quirks, their strengths and weaknesses. I know them more than any reader could…unless I really am that good of a writer, in which case the reader could infer these things from what I’ve written. Nah. We’ll go with the soft spot.

Most writers go through this, I guess–those that write death into their stories, at least. I’m generalizing based on solely my experience, but let’s just say for the sake of argument that this is common. The question then becomes: Who feels it more–the reader or the author?

As a reader, I know I’ve gotten upset at the deaths of minor characters before, those characters that draw you in for the few chapters they occupy and make you their friend. I certainly don’t know the backgrounds of these characters, don’t know their quirks and strengths and weaknesses. I don’t necessarily know what kind of childhood they had, or what their favorite color is, or any of that jazz. Still it affects me, and that’s saying something for the author of that story.

Maybe that’s the key; maybe you have to feel it yourself to know what the reader’s going to feel. Dig that knife into your own heart, make yourself cry, whatever. Feel the emotion, or the emotion won’t be felt.

Or maybe I’m just getting soft in my old age.

Procrastination can be fun…and so, so boring

Procrastinating: a long-standing tradition of doing things other than the thing you need to do in order to avoid doing that necessary thing. One example is what I’m doing right now.

I have a certification at work that needs to be renewed every three years, with X amount of continuing education credits to be obtained over the course of those three years. Me? I’m sitting at 4 years 11 months, and I’m just cracking open the textbooks (or website, as it were) to get this done.

For a while I had an excuse; I had somehow locked myself out of the free CE website my job gives me access to. I’d forgotten my user name or password or both and couldn’t log in. So no site, no CEs. Of course, there are always paid CEs that can be obtained through the credentialing organization, but those have two pitfalls: 1) They cost money, and 2) the email address for the organization is apparently considered a “promotion” by my email server and thus any emails with offers of new classes/CE opportunities do not go to my inbox. No inbox notifications turns into an out-of-sight-out-of-mind situation. I’m human, after all; I forget.

It doesn’t help that my whole life I’ve been a crammer, not a planner. I don’t “study.” I read the material five minutes before the test and wing it. If it hasn’t sunk in during class, then I failed at listening. Most of the time it sinks in. This though? This requires doing the actual “homework” to achieve the desired goal of X number of CE credits. I can’t just show up to the tests and skip the “classes” (like I did for both semesters of college Spanish that I took). The tests are included in the reading material–and they’re based off of this reading material. I can’t just skim. I have to read it. Good Gods, this stuff is boring.

Okay, so it’s a bit interesting. If I didn’t find the medical field at least somewhat interesting I wouldn’t be working in it. And I do enjoy learning new things. I guess it’s just the read-and-regurgitate method of learning that’s making things drag. Not that video learning would be much better…that just gives me more chance to space out, and I have to rewind over and over to catch the things I zoned on.

So what have I been doing the past 4 years 11 months to procrastinate? Well, I’ve written two books; made several cosplays; hung out with friends; watched countless hours of TV; gone on vacations; etc, etc, etc. I’ve basically been living life with nary more than a background thought of these recert CEs. So lame (of me…the CEs are valid and necessary).

Now that I’ve regained access to the recert site, I should have plenty of time to get all of my CEs done. I just have to cram.

It’s the last 5 minutes before the test. Better get cracking.

Gone fishing

Betas. They’re tricky to catch. Quick little buggers. They’re there and gone again in a flash, slipping between your fingers.

Sure, the first time you catch them it’s easy. They even seem eager for it. But when you have to catch them again? Oh, hell no. They’re on to you by then.

By now you’re probably wondering why the fuck I’m fishing for betas. Well, I’m not talking about actual fish betas. I’m talking about beta readers. Them things are hard to find, and it’s even worse after you’ve caught them the first time. Then they’ve got you figured out, and there is no end to the lengths they’ll go to avoid or distract you when it comes to requesting feedback on what they have–or maybe haven’t?–read.

There are a few people I’ve sent book 1 out to, maybe 4 or 5, and I’ve heard back from one. One person who has read it all the way through and gotten back to me in a reasonable time frame. 20% turnaround. Maybe 25. It sucks.

How am I supposed to know what Joe Reader might like or not like about the book? I’m not exactly objective. I might think it’s the most clever thing ever written, and until I hear back from third party eyes I might go on thinking that indefinitely.

Not that I think it’s the most clever thing ever written. In fact, I think a lot of it could use a lot of work. But where to start? Well, a critique would be nice. Something that clues me in to the weakest points so I can have a building block to start from. Like, okay, Plot Point A sucks, but if you tie X in with it or scrap it in favor of Plot Point B then it works.

I don’t even know what A and B are at this point.

Not hearing back from betas sucks, and it’s even worse when they go radio silent and you can’t even ask them if they’ve read anything.

Remind me to be a better beta next time I’m test-reading something for someone.

Time off

I think I’m going to do the unthinkable this weekend….

…. I’m going to take time off from writing. 

My husband and I are visiting my in-laws this weekend, and I’ve decided not to tempt myself with writing and instead enjoy the family time before Valentine’s Day. Oh, I’ll bring a book to read and maybe my pens and coloring books (because I am an adult), but no writing for this one. 
And perhaps that’s my problem. I’m trying too hard to get back on track because I’ve been stuck, so hard in fact that I’m making myself more stuck.

We’ll see what the muse brings me after my mini vacation. Perhaps she’ll let me know where the story is going next 😉

Editing

As I look at my “style” of critiquing/beta reading, I’m reminded of words of wisdom from Project Runway:

Edit, edit, edit.

Except in this case it’s not words of wisdom, but words of stupidity. The way I’ve been critiquing is essentially editing, which is something that, if I choose to do that kind of read-through, I should be getting paid for. Editors can make some pretty decent bank, and I’ve been essentially offering the service for free because I can’t edit my, er, editing.

Let me clarify. In the Project Runway example, the judges want the contestants to learn to “edit” their work and tone it back when they’ve gotten too many ideas all at once. Seeing as how I have too many “ideas” in my critiques, I need to tone it back and not do a line-by-line critique, which is basically leaving the realm of critiquing and moving on into freelance editing (emphasis on free).

I’ve “critiqued” this way for, like, a couple of years. So wrong. I feel kinda stupid, because I have been confusing editing with proofreading (which are not the same thing). I thought that since I wasn’t specifically looking for grammar errors, it wasn’t “editing.”

hobbit-never-so-wrong

So time to edit the editing. Rethink my approach. Reboot. (Gods, I hate the term “reboot” these days…Thanks, Hollywood.) Chill on the minutiae and focus on the bigger picture. I’ll probably enjoy what I’m reading more, and maybe the person receiving the critique won’t feel like I’m nitpicking every single aspect of their work.

Balancing act

Day job. Freelance job. Beta reading. Writing. Oh, and being sick af.

Yeah, day in the life and all that.

It’s hard to keep track of everything. The day job is pretty stressful and takes up the majority of my time. The freelance job…well, I fit it in where the day job allows, but I made a boo-boo last week and forgot a read/review assignment, so I’m backed up on that. Beta reading is backed up because of the back-up. Writing is…out the window until the beta read is done. Being sick? Yeah, apparently being sick doesn’t care how much time you have.

I try. I really do. I need an assistant or something. Wait. I am an assistant. I need…an assistant’s assistant. A sub-contractor. Someone to keep my head on straight when I forget I even have a head.

Of course, the Internet doesn’t help. I talk to friends online and tweet and all that fun happy stuff that has nothing to do with being productive. Buuuuut…it’s difficult to focus when you’ve got that good codeine-promethazine cough syrup in you. That doesn’t excuse me from before I got sick, but c’mon…it’s gotta count for something right now.

Oddly enough, I actually enjoy the non-day-job busy-ness. Again, focus is lacking right now, but…but…crap, there goes that thought.

Guess I should go do that read/review assignment, and the news posts I have to do. And then beta read some more. Before bed. Or in the morning, because I just saw what time it is. D’oh.