Compromising

I hate leaving things unfinished. I don’t necessarily mean completing something totally (obviously, haha, don’t look at all those half finished manuscripts), but I generally need to finish a draft or a section of a story before I can comfortably move on. It feels like finishing a line of thought, and to be cut off halfway through to work on something else isn’t something I like to do. Mostly because more often than not it is a real challenge to get back into that story in when jumping in half way through. At least it is for me. I’ll have trouble picking up where I left off from and catching the characters voices’ again or not be confident with the story or the world. Not to even mention the nagging feeling in the back of my head whispering “you need to finish doing that thing” which makes it ridiculously difficult to work on other projects.

Sometimes though, compromise is necessary. This happened to me just last week. It was a tough enough week to begin with, but on top of it I was struggling terribly to finish the first draft of The Fishperer while desperately wanting to start work on the next draft of Through the Black. The ending had deviated from my original plans – big shocker there – and I was not only writing rubbish but hardly writing at all. Finishing that stupid draft felt like an insurmountable task. So I cheated.

Compromised is probably a better word. Either way it doesn’t matter because it worked and I now feel free to focus on my main and most progressed project. I ‘finished’ that first draft with bullet points. I knew vaguely what I wanted to happen, conversations, lines and actions that I wanted to include. So I completely stripped everything back and bullet pointed every moment of every scene that I anticipated writing. This left me with a lot of detail while being able to move swiftly through the scenes. It allowed me to better plan and figure out what I wanted to happen. Before I knew it I had pretty much the last two chapters finished – just without writing it.

It feels like an acceptable compromise right now because I’ve got all the information I wanted, including character quirks and lines, without dragging it out another two months of painful head-to-desk struggle. Of course it’s not a perfect solution and will mean more time in fixing this later but now that The Fishperer is out of the way for now I’ve made some real progress on the next draft of Through the Black, which to me makes it completely worth it.

Compromise is a vital aspect of so many walks of life, yet I still manage to forget about it in my writing. It’s another in that long list of things that I sometimes need to remind myself is okay.

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Rejection, Steps and Time

As you may recall, I submitted two short stories away to places earlier this year. Somewhat predictably, they both came back rejected or “unsuccessful” as was so diplomatically put in the letter. The kind tone was greatly appreciated because rejection sucks. We all know it and we’ve all been on the receiving end of it for one reason or another. It is one of those things that we must accept, pick ourselves up from, and just carry on.

I said before that the first step was the hardest. As it turns out, I was actually right. One of those stories has already been submitted elsewhere. That particular submission is probably a major case in punching above one’s weight but trying is the only thing that gets results. Thanks to taking that first step, I managed to take a second and without even half of the anxiety and dithering of the first. I’m taking those steps toward my dream of being published and keeping up the momentum.

Sending short stories for submission though is just the first in a long list of things I hope to achieve, writing wise. The end game is the accepted novel. The trouble with novels though is that they are big and eat more time than I can eat Malteasers (that’s a lot). I sent book one of my main project off to beta readers this year, at the end of February. It’s really easy to trick myself into thinking that I’m way behind, that I should be far further through this next draft than I am. What I’ve done though is go through all my beta feedback and carefully construct a game plan. Novels are big, slippery beasts and they need time and revisions need plans. I need to remind myself (and possibly you) that creating a publishable novel is a marathon, not a race.

Events like NaNoWriMo can give writers a fantastic head start – but that’s all it is. Taking the easy bit running. Then comes the hard graft and even then everyone works at different rates. I’m slow. Really slow. I also like to work on side projects to keep my creativity fresh and prevent burnout. It works for me, and after this year’s NaNo I am ready and raring to tackle revisions some more.

I just need to sit back sometimes and remind myself that this is a long game, and that being “slow” isn’t the same as being behind.

Edits, Weaknesses and Spies

Today comes an update from the ongoing efforts of Twyned Earth. Yesterday I finally finished putting all of the feedback into Through the Black‘s Scrivener doc. It’s taken me longer than I’d have hoped due to a hectic few months but hey, that’s life.

Putting aside the distractions though, it still isn’t a fast process for me. It’s more than just inserting people’s comments – it’s also figuring out fixes for the comments without messing up the rest of the story. That’s the time consuming part. I like to plan both big and small changes because a tiny alteration in one place can seriously skew things elsewhere. Consistency is a huge issue – but there’s another benefit.

It means that when I sit down to start editing I can get cracking right away, which is essential me.

Identifying one’s weaknesses is hugely important to being successful. I know that one of mine is sitting down to work and having no idea where to start and then panicking. There’s this big MS to write or edit and it’s a massive job. If I don’t have a plan and I don’t know where to start, I freeze. I get daunted. I get overwhelmed. And I don’t do anything.

Panicking is the enemy. I deal with this by treating each piece of feedback as a separate entity and working out how it can be fixed. I end up with lots of little problems and solutions on how to deal with them, all there in the document file, listed and ready to tell me what to do. It’s so much easier to keep yourself cool and soldier on when there’s someone holding my hand and telling me what to do (even if that person is Past Me).

Our own personal weaknesses don’t go away, but if you can identify and learn how to deal with them they don’t have to hold you back. Don’t be afraid of your weaknesses. Embrace them. Befriend them. Infiltrate them from the inside. Like a spy. Discover its weakness. And then destroy them! What was I saying? I think you get the idea. Perhaps.

Aaaanyway, what about you? Are you a meticulous planner of editing ? Do you feel it out as you go?

The Resolution Update

So, about six months ago you might remember me making THIS blog post about new year’s resolutions! Well, since we’re half way through the year and I don’t have a whole lot else to say at present, here’s an update to keep myself accountable.

1.) Start maintaining this blog again.

It’s not been perfect, and there hasn’t been posts every week,  but a total of fourteen posts so far this year (not including this one) means I’ve been doing a much better job than I did last year! I’m hoping to try and pick things up again as I’ve been slowing down, but as of next week I should have a short story ready to go up in three instalments to keep you all (hopefully) entertained!

2.) Send Twyned Earth Book 1 to beta readers.

Mission accomplished! Not only accomplished but I also have almost ALL of my beta feedback now! Huzzah! There will be a full post about this, hopefully by the end of the month, but for now I will simply say a massive thank you to all my beta readers. Current work has moved onto the editing of Book 2 and the plotting of this year’s stand alone NaNoWriMo project.

3.) Lose some weight.

Due to lots of sickness at the start of the year this one started pretty late but now that it has it’s actually going very well! I’ve lost 43 % of the weight I’m currently aiming to drop. If I hit my target, I might lower it after spending some time there, depending on how I feel.

4.) Keep up with blogs.

Getting better, even if that has devolved into binge reading a whole month’s worth of posts at once. That still counts, right? This is one I need a bit of a kick up the backside with, just so that I don’t lose whole evenings where I’m supposed to be working or playing Xenoblade Chronicles. What?

Now what about you guys? How are your resolutions/goals going?

Progress Report – The End is Nigh!

Not going to lie, I do not have a lot to say to you today. I’ve had a busy week working on the editing, desperately wrestling with the rewrite of the final confrontation. I’ve been dealing with new orders from the doctor (I now have a magic “infection begone!” spray). And I’ve had a busy weekend being all gooey in the grey south with my partner where we celebrated our seven year anniversary. So that was nice.

BUT YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT THIS!

You’re here for writing!

And I’m getting there, honest. The rewrite of the infamous ending scene has been completed, which leaves the remaining tasks before it is ready to be seen:

1.) The last scene and the short epilogue must be edited (total ~6k words)

2.) I need to work through the list of “desperately important minor points that I forgot to add,” currently consisting of about seven things

3.) I need to decide if I want to add/write a short prologue

I’m now fairly confident to say that it will definitely be ready to send out on the 28th. It was looking a little shaky there for a while, but no, I think we’re good. A little scary, sure, but this is the goal. Woooooo! I think. Okay, going to hide in a dark corner now. On the plus side, I have my “beaten my fears and actually taking a positive step” rewards sitting and waiting for me, which arrived today.

The Beautiful Rewards

Beautiful, aren’t they?

So tell me, how are all of your WIPs coming? How are you all progressing? And have you set yourself rewards for milestones?

No Going Back.

So this month has been made an unofficial NaNo Edit month by the gorgeous and talented Melanie Francisco, which if you follow me on Twitter will explain all this #NaNoEdiMo malarkey. This is a great opportunity for me to kick myself in the behind. As I stated was my intention in my last post, this poor dusty blog has been getting a renovate in hopes for it to be frequented once again by me. And, while fixing the categories out so that “uncategorised” wasn’t my biggest one (urgh, go Past Me), I came upon a very excited post by me.

In this post, I was talking about how I was going to get through a draft of TE1 and send it out to betas super soon. Rather like one of the resolutions in my recent post. Only this last post was dated December 1st, 2013.

Yeah. Pretty epic fail, right? And it’s not the first, or the last. But this time I mean business, and NaNoEdiMo is giving me the boost I need. On top of that, I made a vow that I would not go backwards. Once a chapter is done, it is done. And once they are all done, it’s going straight in an email and flying off to betas. It’s so difficult to let go, and I’ve been going back and forth over this thing for two years and getting nowhere. I need new eyes.

So now I can’t go back, and I’m currently on Chapter 9 out of 15. That’s a lot of stuff I can’t touch.

It’s gonna be scary and it’s gonna hurt, but my book might finally get better as a result and that right there is the dream. It’s time to let go. And it’s time to edit like hell and get this thing OUTTA HERE!