Accentuating the Positive

Felt down tonight until I began recounting what I’ve done for my writing and realized this has been the best six-month stretch ever.

For our anniversary, my husband bought me a subscription to the Bestseller Society. Jeff Gerke runs the Fiction Academy and is an awesome book doctor and small-press publisher. I talked to him about my frustrations with writing, and he not only understood, he gave me the keys to unlock my own confidence. That, my friends, is worth any price.

About the same time, I decided to rewrite my novel in present tense. My book is in 1st person, and a lot of readers don’t like it because they believe the main character has “survived to tell the tale.” Well, that lack of suspense will never do. 🙂 Honestly though, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made, because it breathed new life into my writing.

Through the Bestseller Society, I met a local professional editor (what are the odds?). After I finished and polished my first 5 chapters, she did a line-edit. Holy cow, may I just say they rock?

They are locked, they are loaded, and they are ready to go. Period, end of story and omigosh does it feel good!

I’m just about ready to send her chapters 6-12. I’m saddened that a few of my chapters are too long for their own good, so I’ve had to cut some. This means that I’m not quite 1/3 of the way through my novel, but close enough for government work.

Whoa. Let me repeat that: Almost 1/3 of my novel is completed, done, polished and locked away to be opened only by a publisher on Christmas. Wow!

This is a far cry from the horrible feeling of stumbling around in the dark, not sure of what I’m doing that I’ve had for the past 2 years.

We’re also joining the local chapter of the ACFW. In the May meeting, they presented a panel of authors talking about synopsis writing. Since my ms has been requested, I wasn’t certain I would even have to do one. Regardless, I planned to do it last and dreaded it as 1 more thing between me and shipping this monster beauty off.

I was so inspired by the meeting (and the announcement of a contest) that I went home and wrote one. Ha, take that, stupid synopsis!
Er, not quite. My formatting had to be fudged for it all to fit.

But since I’m against all forms of cheating, I knew I had to fix it. It finally occurred to me to focus on the main Supreme Being in the novel, to center it around his walking the main character through her inner journey…and voila, the thing fell into place.
Lean, mean, logical machine. That’s my baby.

So, in the last six months, I’ve made huge strides toward finally finishing and shipping my manuscript. I’m happier and my work shows it, and things are looking high and bright. 😎

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Novel? What novel?

I’d say I’m disappointed in myself, but whatever.

I finally figured out how to state what’s been going on. There is a fine line between perfection and professionalism. I’m reaching for the latter, knowing that perfection is a myth. But every time I think I’ve hit it, someone finds something else that’s wrong. (The latest is TO BE = wrong wrong wrong/do not use at all costs.)

The editing is in shambles. Chapter 27 is currently broken all over my computer and in desperate need of a rebuild. Chaps 28-33 await the same fate. They need it. And I have big plans to fix things and answer questions my 1 amazing critique found. Big plans. And no motivation. None. Not since February have I seen forward motion in this area that doesn’t look like I’m writing the next See Spot Run.

Chapters 1 and 2 have been reworked so many times that I’m not even sure they’re from the same story anymore. Chapters 3 to 9 have been gone over sixteen billion times and desperately need some more editing. Chapters 10 to 22 could use a lot of work. I’ve got notes up the ying yang—these after the huge list of changes I already made. Chapters 23-26 should have been perfect…should have been.

And in all of this, I simply wish for a mentor, a person who can take my novel and help me (correctly) apply what I’ve learned. Erm, not going to happen. Stop dreaming, writer.
Since this is November. I decided to do Nano again to help me get back into the story. I got 3700 words before life got in the way. This sucks. I used to know how to write before I discovered the rules.

All of this may sound like I’m depressed as hell. I’m honestly not. I’m just stating the facts, and they don’t look good. I do (should) have the next two days to just write. We’ll see how that goes.

8 Years’ll Give You Such A Crick In The Neck

On this night in 2004, I started a short story and wrote the most that I had in far too long.

From the ecstasy of creating, to the agony of editing…

The story is good. It really is. But the words keep getting in the way, and I don’t know how to fix them.

My novel and I have endured a forced separation for a while now, so there’s nothing else to report.

Status Quo July

To say it’s been a crazy month would be to put too fine a point on it. I worked on Chap 27 a lot and edited more of the rest a bit. Chaps 1-5 were squared away in the latter half of June, but languished due to lack of interest.

Looking ahead: Aug 4th, I’ll attend a writing workshop with author Mark Mynheir, and I’ll go to the author panels at Star Wars Celebration VI.

This past week took the cake, though. I signed up for an agent bootcamp presented by Writer’s Digest. Knowing that my first 10 pages would be critiqued, I sent the first 12 to friends, begging for feedback.

Be careful what you ask for.

After a gut-wrenching 3 day meltdown couple of attempts to completely rewrite what was obviously a flawed beginning, I attended the webinar yesterday on very little sleep.

I painted my nails during the presentation.

Then I proceeded to scare my husband with the bold statement that I needed to start the story where we’d been trying NOT to all along. My next order of business was a nap. After that, I put on headphones and said goodbye to reality.

I sent my 2500 words to the agent around 5AM this morning.

Regardless of what happens, right now I feel the first sense of accomplishment on this story that I’ve had in a very long time. And that, my friends, is good. 🙂

Status Quo June

Ouch. I’ve made no forward motion on Chapter 27 since April. And every time I learn something new, we have to start over and make sure I did/didn’t do that.

For instance, I came across this great post on The Editor’s Blog. She advocates keeping readers close to the action and emotion of the story by not using filter words like saw, felt, heard, etc. Now I understand what Mysti meant in her blog post and why these words were on her list. (I don’t know, the editor’s post just made it click for me in a more complete way.)

So, back to chapter 1. Again.
I knew of at least one instance in Chapter 2, but we found several more. We also made more smoothing/detail changes while at it.

We finished reading Self Editing for Fiction Writers and I’d gotten as far as Chapter 9, looking for things to smooth or change. Then Kaye Dacus posted the topic of the MTCW meeting for June: A Copy Editor’s Top Ten Pet Peeves
Since Tennessee is a bit (*cough, cough*) of a drive, I asked for a copy of the notes and she graciously sent them. I’d gotten to Chapter 4 with her list before I found the post on word filters.

Now, I’m up to Chapter 6. Again. Hopefully for the last time. My husband still has to read through all the changes. If he doesn’t see anything else that needs fixing, we’ll lock them down. Seriously. I mean it. No more looking at them. I don’t care what I might learn next…

In August, Mark Mynheir is supposed to give a 1-day workshop for a (semi/sorta/not really) local critique group. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot. I’m sure I’ll have to answer, “Is it published?” (The last time I saw him, I’d hit my first real slow-down, rewriting Chapter 13. If only I’d known…)

My progress? One comma, one word, one chapter at a time…still moving.

Status Quo May

A friend flew in from out of state last night, and we talked into the late hours of the morning…like we did 8 months ago. If someone had told me then that I’d still be editing this story now, I’d have cried.

At the time, I was working on Chap 24 and editing the to-be verbs out of Chaps 1-23 (specifically Chap 17 that day). Now, I’m working on Chap 27 and editing Chap 9…again. The idea being that this is the final polish before sending it for a grammar/punctuation edit. I haven’t even asked the prof editor yet if she’ll take the job. (The first part of the project will be Chaps 1-13, and I’m waiting to have it ready to go before I ask.)

In all fairness, I have reread and smoothed chaps 1-26 numerous times, while working on eliminating unnecessary words. I just really thought I’d be done or a lot further along by now.

I have to wonder if I really am giving it my all. It sure feels like it. I think about this story almost 24/7 whether I’m working on it or not (like at this particular moment). I feel burned out, too. Chap 27 is stalled, partly due to the negative self-feedback loop in my head on how I’m handing the scene.

I don’t really know how other authors do it without getting so discouraged that they quit. I have to keep reminding myself to let go and trust. It certainly helped when my husband stepped back in and really began to edit again with me. I feel lost when I’m on my own.

My next (and hopefully final) surgery is scheduled for June 14 (pending a follow up visit from the last surgery that has yet to be scheduled).

Word Count for Chaps 1-26: 118,700

Status Quo April

Main Project: Editing first full-length novel

Status: Chap 27 of 33

Current Progress: Finished main character’s moment of truth and am working on the segue into the last training scene.

How it’s progressing: Smoothly, until I realized I’m not entirely certain how to showcase emotional weapons. Which come first? Negative emotions or negative thoughts? Since I’m writing in first person, I have the scary ability to show the thought process.

I’m grateful to be moving forward again, however slowly. Still have to go through a lot of overused/simplified beats and rework them. Almost to the point of needing fresh eyes for the manuscript.