Set Back

It never fails. As soon as I get excited about something, another problem comes along and derails everything.

After reading 2 more chapters in SEfFW, I went back and changed more dialogue in chapter 1 – yes, one of the chapters I’d sworn were on lock-down, that I wouldn’t acknowledge existed until after they were reviewed professionally for grammar and punctuation. When I told my husband this, his response was, “You’re not going to like me. There’s a lot more that needs cut from chapter 1.”

Seriously?

This is why I have no confidence. I’m not learning anything about writing. I’m changing my novel (again and again) to suit whatever piece of advice we think is a rule.

So, I’m done. I LOVE this story. It deserves its day in the sun. But it won’t ever happen because I can’t do this anymore.

It took me over a year to come up with a good…first draft. WTF? Now I’ve spent hundreds of dollars and countless hours, another year plus, trying to shape it into something that doesn’t look like some hack high schooler wrote it. And after all that, it hasn’t even hit the professional level of edit yet. Those will cause billions of more changes–that I was prepared to take because they came from the professional level.

Not anymore.

This has only shown me how proud I really am. I never doubted that I could write. That I could write well. That I would know when the story was ready to be published. How utterly arrogant. I didn’t want to be the guy with the 1 talent, who buried it. But I’m not cut out to be anything else. This story cost my character everything. The thought hit me that it could cost me that much, too. The number of arguments and horrendous days I’ve had with my husband over this. All a lie. All for a lie. All because of a lie.

So, tomorrow, I will finally begin to clean the house, to get to the things I put off “until the book was done”. It’s done now. I wish I could get back all the time I spent on this stupid venture.

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Book Covers 13

More doubles…

To Seduce an EarlDance Macabre     The Bride and the BruteCaressed by Moonlight

On My Lady's HonorThe Accidental Mistress     Romancing the Mob BossMistress to the Beast

Right Name Wrong ManThe Morning After  Across the UniverseThe Destiny Stone

Interesting note about Across the Universe – it had a reversible cover:

Across the Universe

This would have caught my husband’s eye, but I prefer the romantic one. Just wish I’d liked the story better. 🙂

(Images are from Amazon – alt cover for AtU found on Goodreads.com – owners retain all rights.)

Detail

I’m reminded of the joke where a student is asked to use defeat, deduct, defense and detail in the same sentence and comes up with: Defeat of deduct went over defense before detail.

The difference between a good story and a great one can often be as simple as a turn of a phrase. Basically, it boils down to details. This is something that has been hard for me because I don’t absorb them that well from books I read. Sometimes I forget how a character looks just after an author describes them, or I see it differently due to my own interpretations. (And cover photos that don’t match the author’s descriptions annoy me no end.)

When I took creative writing in high school, the teacher had us write a description of an outfit we owned. Then we had to give it to someone else and have them draw it. Artistic talent aside, it was a great exercise in how to overburden your work with too much detail. Readers like me only want a few words to be able to picture things. I’ve never liked big paragraph of details that slow the story down – I don’t care how necessary they are to set the scene.

Then, why do I put them in my own writing? Because they’re an easy way to put all the details together. Did I sufficiently describe the scene? Oh yes, it’s all right here. Grrr.

I’ve worked on smoothing and spreading out details in this rewrite… and adding them. Since I tend to glaze over them in books I read, I’m not certain when I’ve included enough in my own work. I mean, I can see the story like a movie, why can’t you? 😉

When I’ve included too little, the scene reads too fast. The words are there, but it feels like I rushed through the scene to get to something more important. So, I added a bit of padding to chapter one that sets the scene of the convention when Sabrina arrives, instead of simply ushering her through to her friend’s booth. This also enabled me to generically add the friend’s name to the work – putting it on the sign as opposed to the character just thinking, My friend _____.

The other new detail we “discovered” today changes several key scenes – and makes them less likely to be cut later. Now I have a real reason for my story to be this long. It feels similar in scope to when we realized that two characters’ relationship was incorrect. Once that changed, everything fell in place. I feel that way about this new change.

The best part is that it has rejuvenated me and made me excited about the end of the book again. That’s huge! And any detail that does that is more than necessary – it’s wise.

Faith

We began at Chapter 1 again. This time, I found a spot to add more detail and a more generic way to introduce at least 1 character. All of this helps.

I also started reading Self Editing for Fiction Writer’s to my husband (looking for help in applying it to my own novel). This is a book every writer needs on their shelf and to read many times–this is my second read through.

The difficulty is how hard it is to spot problems and blind spots in your own work. Given that, I’ve decided to finish this edit and lock the MS away until I get it edited for grammar and punctuation. I know I am doing the best I can, and no one can fault me for that–so neither should I.

Book Covers 12

More duplicates to ponder…

    

I’m pretty sure there are more versions of this cover out there:

    

     

(Images are from Amazon and owners retain all rights.)

Fear?

I’ve been told I’m afraid of success, but I’m not certain how true that is. My mother considered herself an overachiever, and I’d say I follow in her footsteps. Or I did.

All through school, I worked my tail off to make A’s. I made a B one quarter in PE in 7th or 8th grade, and it still irks me that it was due to a new writing requirement. The day they told the classes about this, I–and a huge number of other band geeks–had to miss class for concert practice. Next day, we suddenly had to write an essay on a subject I didn’t know that well (they’d told the classes they could bring dictionaries). I made a C on the paper, dropping my A to a B–for something that had nothing to do with PHYSICAL EDUCATION.

During high school, I went to a private school where it was easy to be a big fish in a small pond. I had no social life. The school was on the other side of town and, due to my mother’s teaching schedule, we often didn’t get home until quite late (for most students). That’s not to say the work came easy–especially to a procrastinator–but I wouldn’t let myself fall below my own expectations.

That changed senior year. The private school…imploded…and I went back to public school. Unbeknownst to me, I was also dealing with a health issue. Long story short, I stopped caring (as much as an overachiever can stop caring). I even made a D on my precalc final. I was told if I’d made 1 less B, I might have been in the running for valedictorian. What did I know? My credits hadn’t transferred properly from the private school (my weighted GPA was only a smidgen above my regular one since they didn’t differentiate honors courses), so I didn’t think I’d had a chance anyway. It just didn’t seem to matter anymore.

That was the year I discovered all that hard work only got me into college. Well, it did provide a great scholarship, too. Beyond that, I learned that I’d erred on the side of academics. Balance is not taught in schools.

I don’t think I’ve ever recovered from the disillusionment. Here I am, still working on a story I technically began in 2004. It’s been rewritten and smoothed beyond an inch of its life – and I still am not happy with the results. It doesn’t look or sound like a professional work. My husband and I started over (again) rereading it to get it ready for a copy edit. We got–I got–to Chapter 10 before I began banging my head against a wall again. He’s working on Chapter 11.

How the editing is coming…

I love the story – I hate the words. It’s sparse. It’s choppy. The words read too fast. There’s no meat on the bones. And he says its just my writing voice. I say it’s called amateur writing. And I don’t know how to fix it.

I’ve been angry about this story, about the editing, since I came home from the conference and realized I was indeed rewriting the entire thing. I’m losing steam. I’m losing heart. And I’m definitely losing time while I try to sort this all out. My perfectionist nature doesn’t want to put out a product that can be ridiculed.

I need someone to come alongside and lift my wings. To tell me–with true wisdom gained from experience, preferably–here’s how you get from where you are to where you want to be.

Book Covers 11

Today, it’s all about the sword…ahem.

Together to Join   Embrace the Highland Warrior

This guy’s muscles bunch up distinctively. 😉

The TalismanOnce ForbiddenThe Accidental Highland Hero

Highland ShifterLord KeeperHighlander Unchained

 

(Images are from Amazon and owners retain all rights.)