11 Aug

State of the Revision: Week 2 of 13(?)

Still reclaiming my time by eating trash. As an example of how far I’ve fallen, since I got my pasta roller, only noodles made from scratch have passed my lips. In July, I made the best stroganoff the world has ever experienced with my own egg noodles. In August, I’m dumping dry noodles and salt out of a pouch audaciously labeled “stroganoff” and boiling it for lunch. Sure, it’s not QUITE the same, but I don’t have to sear and roast beef, chop and saut√© onions and mushrooms, or mix, roll, and cut pasta. Good food takes hours versus 8 minutes to prepare trash. AND trash costs a dollar. I’d pay more than that for an onion alone if I still cared about good food. I’ve been a fool for so long!

Still slightly ahead of schedule on the revision. (I calculated that I needed 1,100 publishable words per day to be done by the end of October. Using that figure, I’m now 3 days ahead.) Actually, I don’t think it of as being “ahead” so much as providing a cushion for the inevitable confrontation with a bad scene that has to be beaten into submission over the course of a week or an accelerated freelance deadline that leaves no time to work on personal projects. Since I hit chapter 3 and immediately had to develop 2 inches of text into 2 full pages, the this-will-be-a-breeze days of revising the polish-as-you-go! beginning are officially over, and those cushion days are now in constant peril.

I have to be done with this book by the end of October because I can’t wait any longer than that to find a new day job. I could use a steady paycheck now (that $800 pharmacy bill every month is absolutely breathtaking…), but if I give the best 8 hours of my day to a corporate overlord, then give 8 mediocre hours to my freelance jobs, there won’t even be crappy hours left to get this book finished, and I’m too far into it to throw away the work I’ve done. So I’ll finish it and then throw it away! Ah, well. My horrorscope did say I’d radically change my life this year — it said nothing about changing for the better.

Though this post sounds much less optimistic than last week’s, the story is still going fine, even if the writer isn’t.

Have a swamp flower to brighten your day/night!

Carolina spider lily

It’s a Carolina spiderlily. I usually leave them to go to seed, but this one was about to fall into the creek, so I meddled in the circle of life.

04 Aug

State of the Revision: Week 1 of 13(?)

I’ve chugged so much instant “cappuccino,” I’m sweating artificial flavor. I’ve been trying to get away from the chemical diet, but sometimes I weary of the labor of healthy food preparation and want something I can just stir and swallow. And pizza rolls. A crappy diet has added two hours to my day. Thank you for coming to my time-management TED talk.

I finished the week’s revision with two extra days worth of work completed. I try not to get too excited because the early scenes were more thoroughly developed than what comes later, so of course they’re more easily revised than something I’ll have to rewrite from scratch, but I can see the evolution and feel good about where it’s going. When you’ve written all the way to the end and go back to revise the beginning, you find all these little ways to set up and foreshadow what comes later, and it makes the whole story hold itself together better and gives it resonance. Four days and 6,600 words in, I’m as positive as I ever get. I will drag this confidence kicking and screaming into Week 2 and crush the next 7,700 words (at minimum to stay on schedule).

I felt artistic and roughed up a cover. It will be tweaked a bit before publication, but probably not so much that anyone but me will notice the difference. Keeping it super basic, commensurate with my graphic design skills. It’s parked on the Books page, if anybody’s interested.

Part of the worldbuilding in my secret future writing endeavor is based on a discussion about pie — specifically, removing a slice and shifting the remaining pieces to hide the theft. Once I came up with that analogy, almost everything else fell into place in one of the rare “oh, right, THIS ORGASMIC SENSATION OF BLAZING GENIUS is why I continue to torture myself with the rest of this miserable writing gig” moments. I feel pretty good about that note pile growing off on the side, too. It’s always nice to have a project to look forward to instead of dread.

28 Jul

Status report

We have a first draft, sugar people!

Rough draft word count of 47,470

It’s a few thousand words short of my original estimate, but that was overinflated by the level of polish on the initial chapters compared to the roughness of what came after. (I always tell myself THIS TIME I’ll clean up the rough draft as I go so there’s not as much work to do later, and I always give up on that idea by chapter two.) The ~47,000 words I ended up with will double to a good length once I expand all the [describe thing] and [insert action here] and shorthand fragments to actual sentences. And let us not forgot [sneak into arena, evading guards], which I’m sure will be an amazing scene once the night-shift elves write it for me.

I had the perfect title for a related book I was going to write after this one and wanted this book to have a coordinating title to show the relationship, but now that there’s a -112% chance I’ll write the other book, I need a better title for this one that stands on its own. I have two variations on a possibility. Here’s hoping something amazing emerges during revision.

I’ve looked at stock photos for cover art and perhaps found a headless guy sturdy enough to represent Phin without being off-puttingly massive. (Let me clarify: a headless guy sturdy enough without being off-puttingly massive who’s not grabbing his crotch or doing something weird with his arms. There were plenty of bodies that would have been fine, but cripes, what are they thinking with those poses.) I might need to buy a font to dress things up because I’m not getting more artistic than mantitty. The nonexistent budget this time won’t extend to a cover artist.

I doubt I’ll bother publishing a paperback version. They don’t sell well. I might just do a proof copy to complete my own collection and never push the listing through.

The next phase of my “writing career” is dancing around my feet like a circus poodle begging for attention. I’m excited about the ideas, but that’s not unusual — ideas are fun; putting one word after another in a sensible and entertaining fashion is a drag. Bets have been placed that the hard part will be easier when I’m writing the kind of stories that are more in my wheelhouse, but none of the gamblers truly grasps the degree of my wordfinding struggles. It can take me hours to work out a blog comment. Trust me, I’m never going to whiz through a novel, no matter how stoked I am about the daggers, dragons, deception, and damnation.

Now I get to escape the computer for a while (my carpal tunnels rejoice…) and get my hands inky tearing this mess apart word by word.

Printed rough draft, spiral notebook, and pen holding the laptop closed