About This Blog

This blog is about my books (of course), but it's also about writing in general and the editing process. I love the puzzle of a novel, and I'm happy to share anything I know about editing and revising. Any questions? Leave them in the comment box or send me an email, and I'll address them as quickly as I can.

Friday, September 6, 2013

And Then There Was August

I actually wrote today. Amazing, isn't it? I know it's something one must naturally assume that an author does, but for me this has not been the norm. In the first place, it was August. That might not mean anything to anyone else, but believe me when I tell you that it is a very valid contributor to my state of non-writing. You see, I have these four children-ish people living in my house with me, and by the month of August they are like natives clamoring for their last hoorahs of summer. Between this and my own clamoring for we-must-get-this-house-put-back-together-before-we-all-return-to-school, there is already a limited amount of time.

Enter reason number two: Football. Have I mentioned that three of these young persons happen to be male, and that each of them has a major penchant for destroying the opposition? If I didn't love watching my boys hit and score so much (yes, I admit I'm that mother in the bleachers who has to jump to her feet and scream every time one of her babies takes someone out) I would probably rebel against what football does to my life. Three boys, three different age groups, three different football programs. All. We. Do. Is. Football. Games three to four days a week (including Saturday) and multiple practices on all remaining days but Sunday.

And the final contributing factor to my month of not writing is the absence of my husband who is currently working out of town, and is therefore unable to help me with anything. Bedtime, mornings, dinner, laundry, the running around of the children, etc. He is more than willing to help when he's around, but alas and alack, he is currently completely unavailable.

Really though, I think most writers are like me. No one is paying us to sit at the computer for multiple hours a day in the hopes that we will produce something wonderful. Instead we are struggling to cram a little writing time into the sandwich that is life with a family, job, and laundry. Sometimes it's really hard (like in August), but am I the only person who's noticed that when inspiration strikes it's like more hours magically appear on the clock? For instance, I started the sequel to Laryn Rising on February 15, 2012, and I finished it on May 5th. 2012. And that was after taking two weeks off to gear up for the ending (which terrified me to even think about, btw. Seriously, endings are just so much pressure!) That original draft was 220,000 words long (never fear, my initial writes are always WAYYY longer than the end product, and it's at least 50,000 words shorter now) which means that during that time I was writing an average of 2,785 words per day. How did I do that? I really can't say because that brief period of time is still like a hazy fog of staying up all night typing as furiously as possible. Even though I know I was working almost every day, the only thing I remember doing from February to May is sitting at my computer in my robe (because it was either really late at night or it was Saturday) shushing my children and begging them to please clean the house. And feed themselves. I think that was when my mother bought me the sign for my laundry room that reads "Laundry today, or naked tomorrow"...

So I guess I just need to buckle down and write until I hit that magical spot in my current project where it all starts coming together and inspiration isn't so hard to come by. I've written three books and it's happened all three times, so I know I'll get there - I just need to keep writing.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

What Am I Thinking?

Remember how I keep saying I'm going to publish Laryn Rising any minute? The goal has been September 1st for quite some time.

Newsflash: That is today. Needless to say, my book is not quite ready due to a little thing called cover art (which could come through ANY MINUTE!) and I've been waiting around with my revised, copy-edited, totally-perfected final version, just waiting to go. And apparently I've been waiting around too long, because I was suddenly struck with a kind-of significant addition/revision that I now feel compelled to make. Could it complicate things? Possibly. Could it cause me to have to reread the entire second half of the book AGAIN in order to make sure the new addition fits in seamlessly? Definitely. Could I lose my mind if I actually have to go over all of that for the seven millionth time? Very possibly. So why am I going to do it?

Because this is such a no-brainer that I really can't believe I didn't see it in the original write. Seriously. I have this issue with this character that has been a problem since the first major shift in my original plotline. I have spent many hours trying to come up with a way to resolve this issue with no success, while all the time the answer was so obvious! So now I have to do it. There simply is no choice, because if I don't I'll always know that I should have. *sigh*

And so, the moral of this story is that sometimes being forced to step back and ruminate over something you think is perfectas good as you can make it can be a good thing. I've done quite a bit of freelance editing, and one thing I have learned is that while there is definitely such a thing as over-thinking, there is also a time and place for re-thinking. The trick is deciphering between the two. Every author knows that there are an infinite number of ways to write a story. At any point in any plot, you could turn your book over to someone else and more than likely it would end up looking a lot different than your version. An editor, for example, constantly has to examine the difference between structural suggestions and opinion suggestions - otherwise the editor is simply trying to create their own version of the author's story. It can be a hard call to make, and I think every editor - and consequently every author - has dealt with some frustration in drawing this line.

For me, I have a simple little rule I use to help me decide when to rewrite/revise, and when to step away and call it good enough. If the scene/chapter/story is already working but I'm agonizing over whether or not it's 'good enough', I ask myself this question: Will changing it make it better? Or will it simply be a different version of the same? Often times the answer is obvious - as with this current change that I'm about to institute. It will tie off a loose end, pull together two threads that need another connection in the story, and it will add a definite level of intensity and emotion to a pinnacle moment in my main character's personal evolution. It is a vertical change that will definitely make the scene/book better.

The scene in question has to do with my character receiving some critical information that changes the course of the entire story. Currently she gets the info from a group of nameless women in an overheard conversation. The transfer of this info has always been a fairly week point, but up until my grand inspiration it seemed as good as anything else. Were I to consider changing it so that she was in a different location, or heard it from a different group of fairly neutral people, the change would be lateral - and therefore kind of pointless. But now the bearer of the said tidings will be my character's nemesis rather than some neutral party, which gives me confidence that this move will be vertical - not lateral.

In this particular instance the answer to my question was very clear, but sometimes that is not the case. Sometimes you really can't tell what changes a revision/addition will bring about without sitting down and trying out your idea. In this case I think it's good to remember that just because you're considering a change - and even taking a stab at it - it doesn't mean you have to commit yourself. In every manuscript I have worked on I have made at least one major change to my story line at some point... And I've attempted several more, only to decide that what I had in the first place was better.

I could probably go on for about four more pages on the subject of how-to-tell-where-a-revision-will-take you, (which I consider a kind of fascinating subject) but, as that is not the topic of this particular post, I will spare you. For now. Suffice it to say that I'm thrilled with this latest burst of inspiration, I have no doubt it will make my book better than it was, and I am now officially glad that my book wasn't ready to go out because otherwise I'd have felt like it was too late to make the change - although I'd never have thought I'd be happy to be revising this late in the game...