Decade in the Making

I’m halfway through the second round of content edits on Corroded (Surge Imprint from Anaiah Press, April 2016), which makes it at least the fiftieth revision. It’s been a learning curve, to be sure! Even though it’s coming out second, this is the oldest “book baby” of my adult life. My first born, but she had to stay in the ICU so that the second child, Fortitude, will be out in the world four months ahead of her.

Corroded has been through two different critique groups, a full manuscript critique by Laurie Halse Anderson, and a handful of beta readers. Not to mention that it went through two rounds of submissions—and rejections—in the past four years (when I thought she was mature enough) before she was accepted this year (on the “first” try.) I’ve swaddled and re-diapered this story more than anything else I’ve ever worked on. Early readers will recognize the story, but Corroded is now so much more than I thought possible when she was formed a decade ago.

In the beginning, I was too close to the main character. By separating myself from her, I was able to dig deeper. How is that? Probably the same way you can find yourself by losing yourself in service. I had to give up my own ideals to find the true complexities of the characters. And in doing that, I maneuvered through the layers of the story to find the heart. I journeyed so far that I ended up with two main characters and dual point-of-view novel.

Foritude-Corroded quote

Thought it all, I couldn’t give up on Corroded. The story needed extra nurturing and that took time off and on throughout my other projects. Even now, there’s work to be done, but I’m confident the book will be the best version of itself when it’s finally released from the nursery. Anaiah Press has given me a stellar editor to make sure that happens. It’s been a longtime coming and I’m grateful for each step of the journey.

It Happened, Again

Writing is tough. I spend hours writing a page or two, which will have to be edited and reworded in the future.

Writing is exhilarating. The feeling of freedom when my hands are almost moving as quick as my brain is fleeting, but so worth working toward.

The “fast draft” that I completed last month was a compilation of many of both types of moments. (Reminder: fast for me is six months, from conception to finished first draft. I’ve tried NaNoWriMo many times, but it’s not for me.) Upon beginning my edits, I notice I’m still making a lot of the same mistakes that have plagued me for decades.

Prime example: My main character is flat, and suffering from perfection syndrome, while my secondary characters are multi-faceted and promote more emotional attachment from early readers. The initial analysis for doing this is that I think of myself as a secondary character in life and relate better to those not in the spotlight, so I naturally attach myself as a writer to those on the sidelines. From a craft standpoint, I’m wondering if I have the story wrong. Maybe I need to switch my point-of-view (POV) character.

This happened with CORRODED. My main character, Mary, didn’t evoke a connection to many beta readers (and was even annoying to some) while every reader loved her sidekick Ben. (Yes, there’s a group of “Team Ben” readers out there.) What resulted, during something like the twentieth draft, CORRODED became a dual POV story, with alternating Ben and Mary chapters. And I have a sneaking suspicion that if I look at the manuscript again, it might become all about Ben. (Go ahead and squeal, ladies!)

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Rather than freezing while I berate myself for fouling up yet another story, I remind myself of this quote by William Faulkner, “Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” So, back to the drawing board with THE UNRAVELING THREADS OF KYNDRA FIELDS.

In the meantime, do you think character POV issues are more often emotional or craft related?

Music for the Wait Time

It’s been two weeks since I finished the first major round of revisions (there were several edits along the journey) on FORTITUDE. While waiting to hear back from beta readers, I’m working on the synopsis and query letter for it. Plus, a lot of knitting and watching movies have happened—it’s not all work here. Also, I’ve been reading a couple of my friends’ manuscripts. Finished with one from MeLeesa Swann and now I’m on to Israel Parker’s latest epic.

The good news, among all this waiting, is that I can work on the official soundtrack for FORTITUDE. As noted in this post, I like the music to match the arc of the novel. With this being a historical journey, I’m trying to make sure the lyrics fit the times. (Think Bid Time Return—that’s Somewhere in Time to the movie buffs—so the listener/reader isn’t jarred out of the story. Yeah, I’m a geek.) So, out of over thirteen hours of FORTITUDE mood music, I’ve got to arrange a manageable list of timeless songs to share with others. But I’ve stumbled across a few gems in my regular playlist mixes that weren’t in my collection, including this one, which works perfectly during the lowest point for main character Claire O’Farrell, “Reason” by Europe.

Now for a dozen more.

Highs and Lows

A writing life is full of its own highs and lows and this week, though it’s just beginning, has both.

How do I know?

I’ve already experienced the spectrum of emotions.

Good news first: I passed twenty-five thousand words on the first draft of FORTITUDE. Most days I’m making myself write first thing in the morning and then again at night. That helps me stay focused on the storyline and keeps the characters fresh in my head.

100_2563 Not so great news: my first rejection from a full manuscript submission. The publishing company gave me the opportunity to resubmit after the a few issues are beefed up and praised my quality of writing, but CORRODED is still looking for a home.

Also on the horizon this week is conducting my final meeting as president of Mobile Writers Guild. (I’ll let you decide where that scores on the spectrum.) Members vote for the new officers at the Thursday night meeting. It’s been a learning experience during the two terms I served and I’m ready to pass the mantel on to the next president.

Through it all, I’m working to keep my fortitude noncorrosive. And, yes, the fern on the oak is still alive.

What do things look like in your life?

The End, again

Right about midnight, I finished my revision of Corroded,  just under four months shy of when I received my critique back from Laurie Halse Anderson. For those new readers, yes, that’s the Laurie Halse Anderson, award winning author and NYT bestseller. Be sure to check my other blog posts listed in the category menu on the right under topics such as her name, critique and major freak out.

My revision started slow. I rewrote the last 24,700 words since the beginning of June. In the three months before, I’d only written 16,200. At the end of May, I realized it would take me the rest of the year to finish my rewrite unless I made it a priority. So, with motivational help of my critique group friends (holla to Meleesa, Stephanie, and Israel—thanks for the late night chats) I pounded out over a thousand words most days in the past three weeks, concluding with 3,594 last night.

Now I’m tasked with reading through the last few weeks’ worth of writing before sending it out to my Write Club friends (the above, plus Joyce and Lee Ann) as well as a new beta reader. And I’m finally going to take the time to watch the complete series of Firefly as a reward!

The Art of Procrastination

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Art of Procrastination

I’m the most productive procrastinator I know.
You can tell how much I’m avoiding something by how organized my home is. In the past few days I’ve cleaned the kids’ playroom, organized their closets, straightened my desk, and helped my parents with their organizing.
This past Friday, I received my full professional critique back from Laurie Halse Anderson. (Yes, you have the right to be jealous!) She did a thorough job. After reading her write-up I knew she hit my strengths and weakness spot on. But I’ve been avoiding reading through the manuscript—not quite sure what to do with myself when what I’ve been waiting months for is back in my court. I’ll be forced to act, to move CORRODED up to the next level toward publication.
And it’s paralyzing.
So, rather than taking that last step, I did everything else I could possibly do without feeling guilty. Things that need to be done. I couldn’t just sit in front of the TV and zone-out. I’m not wired that way. Those that have spent an extended period of time around me know I’m a pacer. I can’t sit still when the situation is out of the norm—my nervous energy must be put to work. And sitting down and reading through 176 pages of blue (not red) notes on my story is beyond my sphere of comfort.
But I finally did it Saturday night. It wasn’t as painful as I expected. Now, I’m laying out my plan of action for the rewrite—think this will be edit #7…