I have finished my last perusal of Book II, and found a distressing number of things I wanted to change. So I made the changes, looked at it quickly one last time, and sent it off to my publisher. I never know when to call things finished. How do you tell when something is good enough? I am sure, if I were a painter, I would stand for hours before my canvas, applying little bitty dabs of paint here and there, trying to get the picture “perfect.” But would I know when to quit? I don’t think so. (more…)

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The weather has gone all southerly, after a couple of glorious weeks of sunshine. Good for the garden though, as everything was getting pretty dry. Good for me too. I am in one of those happy modes when the words are coming pretty easily, and I want to sit at my keyboard all day and write, write, write.
It remains to be seen whether any of those words will be of use in the long run. I can’t read over things right after I have written them and have any sense of their quality. It is like there is a another area in the brain that they must be written to first, and then I can see them in a different way. Something like the “objectivity lobe.” Sometimes stuff takes a looonngg time to get there . tee hee.

add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

Been at the keyboard most of today, doing the final tidy up of Ketha.  Every time I go through it I find a few more mistakes!  But now I am going to put it away until after Jan 1st, review it once more and then send it off to the publisher.  Otherwise I will keep picking at it and picking at it, with no good result.

Tomorrow I will get back to work on Book IV.

I did take a break for an hour or so, to take my son and his girlfriend out to lunch at a new Japanese restaurant that just opened in town.  We had some excellent teppan yaki, and enjoyed ourselves, but when I came out I discovered someone had sideswiped my honda and scraped up the bumper!  Not a happy end to my lunch.  At least the guilty driver left a note…

Last night I finished going over book II, Ketha’s Daughter, with Mike.  We had forty pages to work through and it all went pretty smoothly.  I only have a few minor edits to take care of before I send it away to my publisher after the Christmas break.  Then we will go into another round of editing and changes, but hopefully not too many!  I have trimmed about 3,000 words from Ketha over the last few months, leaving a tighter story with less “telling” on my part.  The urge to tell and explain everything to the reader is one I have constant difficulties with, especially since my “world” is a fairly complex one.  There are two or three levels of story, with attendant characters, going on all the time.

But I tell myself that I mustn’t spoon feed the reader.  I like challenging works, and I hope other people do too.

I might have mentioned that writing is a lonely job. It requires self-discipline, patience, stubbornness, and a thick skin. You will develop these traits over time if you stay in this business, because if you don’t, then you won’t stay.

But there is help.

The first thing to do is find a writing partner, who will critique your work, and allow you to critique theirs. You can learn much from reading other people’s first drafts. See what kind of things work, and what doesn’t, and things you can avoid or use in your own writing. A partner also provides you with social contact, a shoulder to cry on, and an encouraging pat on the back when you need one. And you do the same for them. It is the single best thing you can do to further your writing career.

Second is to take care of yourself. Get enough sleep, eat healthily, and most importantly, get some exercise. Make it a priority to get a half an hour walk in each day. You can think about writing while you are walking, or ideally talk about it with your writing partner, who is out for a walk with you.

Third would be to take a writing class or seminar. You can learn a lot from a well taught class and being able to talk to a published author (who is hopefully teaching the class) will give you insights into the business.

Lastly, there will be days when you don’t want to write anything. If it is just one day, then give yourself a holiday. No one needs to work every day. But if one day goes to two and two stretches into a week, then you have to make yourself get into it again. The best way to do this is–just do it. Start writing, wherever you left off. Don’t worry if its crap. You can always revise it later. Set yourself a goal. Five hundred words in two hours, or something like that. Then do it. Eventually the words will start flowing again.

That is a great feeling.

I spent most of today going over the bits of Ketha’s Daughter that my writing buddy, Mike and I talked about last night.  He was in a particularly critical mood, so I had to do a lot of defending.  Sometimes he is right, and sometimes he is wrong, but he always helps me to clarify my own thinking.  I did need to cut out some of the flab in the passages we discussed, and today I did just that.  It is hard, because I am in love with all the words I write.  But sometimes things just have to go anyway, in the service of creating a coherent whole.

After a lot of hard work and three rounds of editing, the publication date for Heart of Hythea has been set for December 3rd. I will add more details as I find them out.

I have been busy over the past few days editing book 2, which is due at the publisher after the new year. I still have a lot of work to do, creating a glossary, and a comprehensive map of the territory covered in the book. I also did a map for Book I. Drawing maps is quite difficult, but fortunately I took cartography in college so I have a little bit of knowledge in that department. I’ll talk about that in a separate entry.

I spent some time yesterday editing Ketha’s Daughter, instead of getting started on Book IV, which will be called Beyond the Gyre. I always have trouble with the first chapter of a book, just because it is the beginning of such a huge time investment. Not that I don’t enjoy writing, I do! But editing is something that can be done in little chunks, whereas writing, at least for me, is best accomplished in marathon sessions. Usually six to eight hours a day when doing the first draft. My family gets heartily sick of it, I can tell you.

But all this procrastinating won’t get me anywhere.

I did want to mention one of the best editing tools out there though–the human voice. When I finished Heart of Hythea, and I wanted to find out what people thought of it, I put it out chapter by chapter as a podcast on I tunes. It was a lot of fun to do, and it was downloaded by a few thousand people, some of whom did indeed leave helpful comments.

But the main advantage was that as I was recording the text and listening to the playback I found it was much easier to pick out awkward sentences and find places where the narrative did not flow well. Reading out loud works too, but not as well as listening to playback.

I continue to read my work and record it, but I haven’t done another podcast. Yet.
In case any of you are wondering how I manage to write when there is the chaos of a full household going on all around me, then I will give you the answer–headphones and music. Sometimes classical; right now I am listening to Bedrich Smetana’s String Quartet #1 in E minor. More often I listen to popular music sung in languages other than English. That way it provides a nice background, without me being distracted by words I know, and wanting to sing along. My favorites at the moment are Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Morten Harket.

EdmundMusic however does not prevent me from being distracted by the cat–a large fluffy Maine Coon called Edmund. He keeps stepping on the keyboard and trying to bite me so I had better get him something to eat!