Beginning to write your Second Novel Ever.
This is, I think, the most difficult lesson I'm learning in my writing journey. It's why I haven't been on Twitter much lately, or blogging as frequently. I haven't actually worked as much as I'd like on Shiny New Idea, now titled Night Run, or the plots for the rest of the Origin series. Because most of my friends are writers, I didn't want to admit I was taking an overly long break from something I should have been excited about.
After learning so much about the writing craft and my own process, I'm overwhelmed.
Archive for ‘2009’
Beginning to write your Second Novel Ever.
I'm so sorry I haven't blogged for the last two weeks! Normally I'm very good about it, but with the holiday season and all the hoopla, just haven't had the time or energy. But I'm back!
This Christmas brought to me a bevy of thoughts, both on my Real Life and my Writing Process. Really, I was attacked by them all. It made it hard to concentrate on my work, but I knew I had to address some of them before getting back to Life. If I didn't, things would only get worse, and I didn't want to risk getting too incapacitated to write at all.
My husband and I have decided to sell our 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,400 square feet home and move to an apartment near the end of spring. This house is just too big for the two of us, and old enough to have problems. Unforeseen repairs depleted our Christmas Savings, and I'm just too damn lazy to keep a house this big clean. I'm still a teen at heart, why do you think I write for Young Adults?
Recently, I started revising my YA epic fantasy, Origins. Some beta readers graciously pointed out the stark differences of the first and second half, and I knew the first part was backstory to incorporate elsewhere. I'd noticed this in the middle of rewriting Origins, and had waited until I finished the whole thing. I found the right place for the story to start, and then tore out 32 pages from the beginning.
But I didn't relish it, and I normally do.
I'm sadistic, I love revisions. Completely restructuring the text, tossing scenes, mercilessly yanking words and sentences from their overwrought perches... it's an art form, a flow of ideas somehow more satisfying to me than writing the first draft. It's my favorite part of working on an essay or term paper, and with the extra material of full length novels, I should be deep into revisions by now. Still, my heart isn't into it, despite how I insist to myself this is what I want, what I'd waited for.
I'm not ready to revise Origins.
As you may already know, I had a bit of a crisis yesterday. On Twitter I noticed a few people say they hated writing and reading in 3rd person Point Of View. An agent said most of the submissions they got were in 3rd, and I know 1st person is very prevalent in Young Adult. I write YA, and the current WIP is in 3rd, which made me needlessly nervous.
My current WIP is a YA Epic Fantasy, but with a Paranormal twist. Epics lend themselves far better to 3rd person POV, but with the Paranormal twist, I could really see 1st person POV working. So I told my #amwriting family on Twitter (I don't know what I'd do without them), and they gave me some great advice. I wrote some random snippets in 1st person, but it just didn't feel right, and so I stepped away for a bit. I was lucky enough that a special, helpful Twitter friend came to my further rescue on what POV to use. I admire him greatly, and can't thank him enough for pointing out what I was messing up.
He told me many aspiring writers start out using 1st person, because it's how most people tell a story. I've written mostly in 3rd, but could see the reasoning, though it feels awkward to me. I thought maybe I should change the POV, but he added 1st had its problems and could be hard to master, or for readers to enjoy. He said there was a better POV to use, and then he showed me.
First, I want to thank all the lovely peeps who gave me words of encouragement and advice, both in the comments of On To Revisions and on Twitter. You're all so kind and super helpful when a fledgling writer is lost, I can't thank you all enough.
SO. On to business. From all the advice, I gleaned a tidbit of information I was wondering about.
There is no special trick when it comes to revisions.
Sounds kind of "Duh," right? Well, when you look at it from the eyes of a writer just starting out, who's never had to edit or revise a 90K novel before, then it's a whole different view. With all the ways to outline, organize, and write the first draft, I'd begun to think there were specific methods to go about revising as well. Of course there are some different techniques - stickie notes, charts, reading aloud. But somehow, the revision process seems more like just a big mess of words only the writer can find rhyme or reason in. And, well, that's exactly what it is. With revisions, there's no real formula anyone can learn and follow. It has to be even more organic than writing the initial first draft.
Hence, no secret. So, what now?
I finally finish the first draft of my novel! Now on to revisions, and feedback from Beta Readers.
I'm so out of my depth here. *despairs*
I've come to fully appreciate the harsh fact that anyone can write a story, but making it good is the hard part. Taking it apart and putting the piece back together in the best sequence, catching the discrepancies in character development, worldbuilding, plot holes. Making sure the narrative voice is constant, the actions believable, and the flow of the story is paced well. This is were so many fledgling writers trip up, lose focus or abandon the story, and I don't want to be one of those 'ex-writers'. Revisions take a deeper understanding of the craft.
Again, SO totally out of my range of knowledge here.
I've never had to edit or revise anything more than, say, 10 or so pages, and never before a full length novel I wrote myself. Do you know what? It's HARD. If I thought I was a novice writer, I'm a lowly amoeba when it comes to revising. I've been poking at the manuscript printout for a few days, a little fearful of the length (303 pages at the moment), and a little lost on what to do first. Do I go through and fix wording, rip out all the that's, -ly's, and general over usage? Do I read and make notes on what to fix, change, remove or add? Do I twiddle my thumbs and wait for the Beta Readers to finish and let me know what they think? Huddle in the corner as the monster of revisions looms over me?
I absolutely adore Eisley, and her blog Eisley's Ellipses. She's got some really intriguing ideas about random and not so random things, even things you wouldn't normally think had the potential for deep thoughts.
And now it's my turn (...again...) to nominate five other blogs for the Superior Scribbler Award!
#Mantecado) http://writerhood.blogspot.com/ has some good quotes and thoughts about writing.
#Amigas) http://brodiashton.blogspot.com/ is a quirky, fun loving gal who says the funniest things about life and writing.
#Hugar) http://aisleycrosse.blogspot.com/ has gorgeous quotes on writing, and follows them with her own thoughts.
#Buena) http://lianabrooks.blogspot.com/ is a smart cookie and a driven novel and playwright.
#Concina) http://ebysswriter.blogspot.com/ for stepping up and putting her foot down when times call for it.
OMG someone has honored this blog with the Kreativ Blogger award! I never expected for this blog to gain many readers, let alone receive any sort of award. But it has, and I'm thankful to have been thought of. This is really one for my readers, who have helped shape and direct the flow of thoughts I post.
This award is not meant to be hoarded, however, and so there are rules:
1. Copy and paste the pretty picture which you see on the top left corner onto your own blog.
2. Thank the person who gave you the award and post a link to their blog.
3. Write 7 things about yourself we do not know.
4. Choose 7 other bloggers to award.
5. Link to those 7 other bloggers.
6. Notify your 7 bloggers.
The wonderful Karen Quah over at http://moderndaystoryteller.com/ is the one who passed on this lovely award to me, and I thank her dearly for considering this bog worthy of such a kind gesture. Karen is a journalist, playwright, screenwriter and script editor, and also kept us up to date on her progress with NaNoWriMo. Her blog is full of insights and humor on everything from movies and writing to women's rights and civil disobedience.
Okay, now for 7 things you may not know about me....
If you haven't checked out the Fire Drill blog, or done #wordathon on Twitter, created and headed by the fabulous @jimsissy aka Julie Butcher-Fedynich, then you've been missing out. But no problem! Because Julie has created a festive hashtag for the holidays, and if you wanna get in on it, she's sent a guest post for everyone to have some Twitter Christmas Cheer. Join in, and let the fun begin!
So. The Holidays are here again. I wanted to have a huge bash and fly all of you publishing-types into town for a party. Unfortunately, the lotto people didn't cooperate so I've teamed up with a few of the twitter writers to make our party virtual. Here's what we need to do.
1. Join the party by tweeting to #holidaybash by Monday, December 7, 2009
2. Run around you house and find a white elephant gift that will fit into an envelope, put it in the envelope and get it ready to mail. You can't buy something new. Your gift can be humorous, thoughtful, strange or dramatic. The wilder, the better. (Risque is acceptable but not dirty. PG rated gifts.)
3. On Monday, we'll post who you mail your gift to. It will be your job to follow them on twitter, get their mailing address, and send their gift.
4. Tuesday, December 8, 2009 we get our work done. Agents do agent stuff and clear your inboxes. Writers write and work on revisions. Editors, set a goal. We'll cheer you on! Authors, finish those projects. Let's all work like crazy so we can enjoy the holidays with our families!
5. Don't open your present when it arrives! We'll open them together at the party.
6. Party time is Thursday, December 17th at 9:00 PM Eastern. We'll get a chat room, open the presents, sing songs and drink the beverage of our choice ;D
As you've likely noticed, my Muse has set up her own blog. She doesn't update often, because she's always rather busy, but she exists, and is my best friend. She keeps me on track or gives me the final word on the subject of breaks. Shakes her head when I get off on some long winded, wild tangent and urges me on when I'm entirely in sync with the characters.
However, some of you may not believe in muses. I know Maureen Johnson hates the idea of them, and even wrote a blog about it, Death to Muses. Now, I feel I must better explain the existence of my Muse. Not to defend her, but to show you how I see her, how she exists to me. I fully understand Maureen's stance, the idea that a Muse is simply there to take credit for all the hard work the writer puts in. But I personally feel Muses are not like that, they are different to those who find they believe in them.
My Muse is Me.
From a not so wise novice writer:
DO NOT BURN YOURSELF OUT.
I'm learning this the hard way. If you read my last post, A Tale of Victory, then you know on November the 16th I won NaNoWriMo by hitting the 50,000 word mark. I wrote a little over 21K words that day, some of it admittedly from notes the weekend before. I was victorious, a sprinter in a marathon. And now, a confession.
Last night I realized I was *THISCLOSE* to hitting the final NaNoWriMo marker. I had been typing away feverishly all day, seeing the end of the Work In Progress coming ever nearer. I figured I could finish it and the 50K in a few days. I thought I might get 5K, or even 7-8K, as I had hit my minimum word count goal (for NaNo being much higher at 3.5K a day) very early in the day. I was just zipping along, paying no mind to the lost weekend and relaxing into the flow of words.
And then I found the Holy Grail Of Words.
Awhile ago (trust me this story is worth it) I had an odd dream that is really a sign I may spend too much time on Twitter. @Gripemaster, or as he is more commonly known, Voldetweet, was the starring antagonist in an Indiana Jones-esque search for the Holy Grail of Words. He was a floating, 2 dimensional avatar, evil and scary and hellbent on getting the Holy Grail of words before I did. I prevailed in the end, but was describing the dream the next morning, Voldetweet revealed he had made it into a Horcrux!
I'm so sorry y'all for not posting sooner, but NaNoWriMo has been kicking my butt.
I used to have pretty steady days, were I'd write about 1-2K words a day, but recently I've been having problems with that. Every day feels like a battle to the death for every word, and there have only been a few days in which I've succeeded. And when I do triumph, its fantastic, I got 6.9K total words on Tuesday and hit the halfway point of NaNo that night. But it didn't come without a cost - yesterday I wrote nothing. I couldn't get my head straight, I'd pushed myself far too hard.
I'd gotten to about 5.4K around 7pm when I started getting soooooo tired, really wanted to go to bed. But then I realized I was so close to the 25K mark, and I, with the encouragement of a bunch of my writing buddies, set off for the gold. 7pm may seem like child's play to you, but with my ADHD medication and my problems sleeping, I should have listened to my body and left it be. But I didn't. I stayed up until 10pm, past when I should have been doing my nightly wind down routine, and got those words.
Um, yeah actually they do. You know why? Because *you* haven't even told me who 'they' is. So don't start getting into a hissy fit just because a member of a critique group you joined told you you were doing something wrong. Its unbecoming of a future bestseller and a friend, and I think we all know that.
I'm not saying everyone takes critiques badly, but I've seen my fair share in person and online, and really? It isn't pretty. It's worse in person, because there isn't the sense of anonymity and distance as on a critique website. You know these people, they become your friends, and they are READING your STUFFS. LOOKING for PROBLEMS.
You need people to be your professional editor, your reader, and a true friend, the kind who won't tell you "No, those jeans don't make you look fat" when your muffin top is epic. (Side Note: I ask the most no-nonsense mom for the truth, and they always give it to me.) Generally the people you trust to critique your work and be honest about it are friends, or at the very least good writers themselves.
And yet, you don't always get that with critique groups. There are people more and less advanced in the craft than you, all with different personalities. Codependents, Crusaders, Naive Novices, Overly Eager Beavers, and hopefully a few Wise Sages. I'm a novice, and so I know I still have a LOT to learn about my writing process, my craft, and how to make my work publishable. I am confident enough in myself and my work to be open to criticisms, so long as they're constructive.
But what do you do when a novice who's writing is so far below par than your own insists on telling you your work has all the problems hers does?
This is SO going to be my month.
I don't know what happened, but the moment midnight came I was typing faster than ever and got almost 2K words within an hour using Write or Die. I was at the kick-off write-in for my NaNoWriMo region, and every time I hit my goal WoD would trumpet my success. The first time everyone looked around in confusion, then started clapping, and every time after that they'd make jokes about it. It was a lot of fun, and I got a lot of words to boot.
Of course, though, I get sidetracked easily. Hence, my Muse has gotten her own blog, I'm writing this post, and I wrote one as a guest for another blog, which will be up either tonight or tomorrow. Yesterday I had a difficult conversation with a friend, one I didn't want to have, and I ended up being torn from the mood to write. In order to get out of it, I went to a NaNo social.
I plan on 10K a day with a minimum of 8K, hoping to finish my current WIP with NaNoRebel. Then I'll move into the sequel for regular NaNo. Yesterday I only managed to get 5.6K, but hey, its more than I've gotten any day in the last two weeks. October was a very difficult month for me in terms of writing, but this month I have a renewed vigor to get the story out, and its really exhilarating. I can feel the words straining to get out and I'm so excited to be writing with such gusto again.
Speaking of which, my writing buddies will likely see this and pull out their whapping sticks and come after me for writing 2 blog posts and setting up one for my Muse and letting her write her first post.
I need to go run and hide with my laptop before they find me.
Lately I've been on a bit of a time crunch. I'm trying to finish writing a current novel while preparing for NaNoWriMo, which is only two days away. EEP! But I must take a moment to mention some things that I am STILL learning about writing. These are things no one really tells you how to do but tell you to when you start out being a Writer.
It takes a lot of time and effort to get your true voice, and to polish that raggedy Work In Progress into a shiny Manuscript. People will tell you to just write the first draft and worry about the rest later, yet most of the time they don't really mention how. I'm going to let you in on some sekrits I learned that should help. I'm still learning these things, but once you get the hang of them, you'll fly through the first draft and be on your way to revisions and edits in no time.
A day or so ago I took a day off from writing. I didn't necessarily want to, but I knew there were some things I needed to figure out about where to take my characters in the story. I've been having problems with this on and off for awhile now. I'd be writing a scene and almost every time I got closer to the transition to the next, I would slow down or even stop. I'd sit mulling it over, wondering where my Main Character was supposed to go or do next.
Then on Tuesday, I can to a stuttering halt. My inner skeptic, if you recall from the last post, told me I was doing everything wrong and I should start over. Thankfully my lovely writing buddies stopped that in its tracks. I went to bed early, sat with my husband in the morning before he left for work, knowing that while I hadn't started over, I still couldn't keep going. Something was delaying me, a question I hadn't asked yet, a decision I still needed to make. It turned out there were at least two, if not three, ways the rest of the story could play out, I only needed to find the best way.
Lately I've been adding a bunch of friends as NaNoWriMo buddies, and its awesome to have so many. Its wonderful to have that competitive edge, the camaraderie as we all seek 50K in one month. But something occurred to me when I had a bit of a crisis yesterday.
Writing buddies aren't just for NaNoWriMo. I personally think they're for every writer, all year long. Writers need friends who are also writers to help through the tough bits. I found this out last night, when two of my Twitter Friends became, truly, my writing buddies.
I was writing along, though having a hard time getting from one sentence to the next. Something was bothering me and I couldn't figure it out for hours. My muse wanted me to keep going, but I just questioned what she was trying to hide from me. Then I realized I didn't think an aspect in my story was convincing. It was one I had taken from the inception of this idea, but in my regular afternoon slump my inner skeptic felt it was lame and gave me another idea. So I stopped writing, waiting impatiently for a friend to get home from work so I could tell her the problem.
And then she ganged up on me. With my muse. Another friend got on Twitter, and I dragged her into the conversation to take my side. Of course, she didn't. She joined the enemy camp. *grumbles* Traitors.
This button is only for emergencies.
Its October the 20th, and this means I only have ***12*** days left.
Really, I shouldn't even be writing this blog. But I will for YOU, because you have NEEDS.
I still need roughly 40K, so that puts me under 3.5K a day until October 31st, but I really need/ want to finish with a day or two to spare. I really want to be able to spend some time fully figuring out what the heck I'm gonna do with the nanowrimo plot.
See, I've stupidly come up with a more complicated style and plot than the one I'm currently working on. I'm going slow here, I think, because I've been at this WIP for quite a while, and I wish I could let it alone for awhile and come back to it when its time to edit and revise. Problem is, I won't have much to edit and revise if I don't actually finish the damn thing. So words must be written, many many more words.
A while ago I hit a slow time in my writing, the words not coming. I hold myself accountable on Twitter with #writegoals, specific word counts I aim for each day. Because I'm trying to finish the rewrite of my current WIP by October 31st in order to begin NaNoWriMo fresh with the sequel to this story, my goals are pretty high. I guesstimate this book, an epic YA fantasy to reach about 80k total. With about a week of low word counts, I'm now need to get at least 3.5k words a day for the next 15 days in order to finish by my self imposed deadline.
During the lag, many Twitter friends suggested I release myself of my seemingly daunting ambitions, worrying I'll wear myself out and quit writing all together. It was true, I did need at least a few hours break, but I'm stubborn. To be told to take it easy doesn't make it easy for me. Being told to lower my expectations of myself actually pushes me to prove to everyone - including myself - that I CAN write 2 novels in 2 months. A few hours rest, higher dose of ADHD meds, and now I'm flowing again, the story ready at my fingertips, my muse cheering me on.
A few people denounced the practice of setting these types of goals, which rankled me. To dismiss a tool many others use so offhandedly is... a lack of understanding. Goals of specific word counts, scenes, chapters, what have you may work for some. For others, goals of any kind shut out the muse, and thats okay, as long as you write, and you love it.
I know this isn't expected, or funny, or about my writing, but I've been thinking about it alot since I signed up on meetup.com, and its on my mind now that my first meeting with the Writers Group is 3 hours away. Most of you know that I have Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, and if you've been on Twitter later in the evenings you've seen how hilariously crazy I can get. And I like it, when I'm not writing. I love saying funny things back and forth between tweeps and laughing my butt off. But thats only a small part of what goes on inside my head. This is the story of when I had my first full blown panic attack, and I haven't been the same since.
It was at a viewing for my then fiances, now husbands, grandmother. I’d never liked funerals, the dead bodies meaning nothing to me compared to the souls that housed them. My parents always kept me at the back away from the coffin, but this time they weren’t there, this time everyone was right by the body, and I hated it. I began to tunnel, huddling into my own body, hoping it would swallow itself up and take my mind with it and away from this rigid, cold flesh. I hardly heard a word, my mouth clamped ove the screams that wanted to escape, and my fiance knew I wasn’t well, so he was able to get me out as soon as it was ‘appropriate’. I began to shake in the car as he drove, and the farther we got from the body the worse it became until I was finally in full pseudo seizure mode. My whole body flushed, I couldn’t speak, I was in danger of breaking bones and it took hours and a shot of something that didn’t work to try to relax my muscles and calm me down. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning after almost 12 of them shaking, my muscles tired themselves out, and I lay there in that hospital room, staring at the wall, unseeing.
And thats when I broke.
I had to quit my job as a tour guide at my favorite job because at times, I could barely finish my sentence and I’d race to a place to hide. I had to drop out of college because my mind would race so fast I would whimper, I couldn’t concentrate and my grades plummeted. I’d had mild depression before, but after that night it took over me. I became irrational, hateful, and so so sad. I began cutting, drinking excessively and taking unprescribed medications to sleep for the days I couldn’t and then sleeping for days afterward. During my wedding a month after that episode at the funeral I had to tunnel myself through the ceremony, concentrating as hard as I could on the words and my groom. I steeled myself during the reception and we left early. But after that, my panic attacks only came more frequently, though none have been as bad as the first. I wanted to kill myself, wanted for this all to go away and everyone I loved forget the horrible effects I'd unintentionally forced on their lives, on their hearts and minds and personalities. Things got so bad I was admitted into acute psychiatric care three times in as many months.
After being diagnosed with Bipolar and given a slew of medications, it only got worse. As it turns out, I’m freaking ADHD, with maybe a touch of Bipolar, but we didn't find that out until just a few months ago. The depression has gotten better, as has the concentration, though the meds wear off halfway through the day or sometimes don’t work at all. Through these last two years, however, I’ve since developed a social phobia, from the shit my friends, my parents, even my coworkers and bosses put me through, telling me I’m being dramatic, stupid, this illness doesn’t exist. One by one all my friends from Real Life dumped me, and now I no longer have friends, other than the wonderful people on Twitter, who can't see me, who can't tell when I'm truly at my worst because I can control what they know. I can’t work anymore, the thought of messing up and being told I'm a bad person like the boss from my favorite job too much. I get shaky at the thought of going back to school, where I used to flourish but now worry I won't be able to keep up, though I miss it. I write my stories and blog and stay in my home for days at a time. I only go out for something to eat if I absolutely want to or have to, and then it takes me hours to get up the nerve.Hardly anyone knows what I go through, what we who suffer from these illnesses of the mind must work through. People love me, roll their eyes and laugh when I say or do funny shit, but when it comes to the dark stuff, the painful stuff, the normal ones just don’t know. And they never will understand our fears, because sometimes we don’t either. I see the hurt and confusion in my husbands eyes when I get bad, when I want him to hold me one moment only to get disgusted with myself the next and shove him away. But he tries, so hard, the most patient man I’ve ever known. I've wondered, at times, when he’ll give up on me, when I’ll go through completely with the half-assed attempts of giving up on myself. I'm fortunate enough to have gotten better, and these thoughts don't come nearly as often as before.
But even with all of that, I've become extremely self aware. I know now when I'm being stupid or when its a panic attack, when I truly feel angry or if its just me being irrational for no reason. I can tell my husband, my parents, when I know I'm being irritable and apologize ahead of time, tell them I'm trying to control it, tell them I'm aware. I've learned so much about myself, some welcome, some I don't like and I'm working on. With every pain, hardship, and loss of reason I suffer I become better, and sometimes a structure once sturdy must be torn down before it can be rebuilt, stronger and longer lasting than before.
Somehow, I felt it was time for you readers to be aware about me too.
As you may have read in the last two posts, I'm doing a 2 in 2. Writing 2 novels in October and November, finishing the current WIP in October so I have a sense were the sequel I'm writing for NaNoWriMo will be going. The day after I signed up for NaNo, I hit and went above my daily #writegoal word count of 3k, but since then I haven't been able to get to 2k or higher. The problem with this is I don't know how long either novel is supposed to be, and I need to finish this WIP before November.
But I haven't been meeting my #writegoals.
A combination of things have been to blame - sleep problems, my ADHD meds wearing off too soon or kicking in when I'm doing something other than writing, distractions a la Twitter, and areas in the story that I only have a vague idea of have all contributed to the lack of prolific words. This makes me angry at myself, because unlike most other writers, I don't have a job or kids, so I devote my days to writing. My current word count doesn't reflect this, unfortunately.
I wrote my first draft - admittedly so riddled with plot holes it couldn't even stand for its mommy - in 29 days, all of it in longhand. I knew afterwards it wouldn't work, and I began a total rewrite. So while I know I can get the bones down for my story before NaNo, I know I can't do it longhand this time - I need to be able to go look back at previous scenes to ensure I'm not causing unnecessary problems. Scrivener (only for Mac at the moment) is a godsend, and has helped me keep up what little momentum I've been having.
All the excuses in the world won't add words to my WIP, and so I just have to put on my Big Girl Panties and hunker in for the long haul, which is scarily short in time.
I need words, and Write or Die by Dr Wicked is saving my writing. Tomorrow I go to visit my in-laws, which means we'll be playing games, having fun, chatting. So today I need to get 6k words down, 3k for today, 3k for tomorrow. I'm doing this by going for 1k intervals on Write or Die, not worrying about cleaning up the scenes until I've gotten all 6k out. This is good. My meds start tapering off after 1pm, so getting the words out now and cleaning them during the distraction phase is better for me. I can edit in short bursts, but I prefer to write for long periods of time.
This is working so wonderfully, I plan to implement this tactic for all my writing here on out, unless something prevents me from doing so. The Concentrate app for Mac, which blocks other apps, websites, and the like, is good, but I can still find ways to amuse myself away from my writing. With Write or Die, particularly in Kamikaze mode, it forces me to just GO, just write what pops in my head. More often than not, its the best way to take the story forward, and the ways my characters had been wanting to go anyways, if I'd listen more.
So, now I'm off for another round of Write or Die. I suggest you at least try it out too. Let me know what you think. ;)
After having suddenly become a NaNoer last Friday, I've been working like crazy to get this October WIP done by Halloween. (hey, I like candy too, probably more than any snotty kid) I've had an awesome up and a few downs, but overall I consider this a good start to my first ever 2 in 2.
Whats that? Remember, I have to finish a WIP I started on Oct 1st, then get at least 50k on a novel in 30 days in Nov, so my friends and I have begun to call it the 2 in 2, meaning 2 novels in 2 months. Because this is an endeavor made of WIN, when I succeed I will be receiving a trophy.
THATS RIGHT, I'M GETTING A FREAKING TROPHY!
In preparation, and because I'm just not sure how long these novels will be, I took the plunge and started using Dr Wicked's Write or Die. Not the kamikazi, because I'm a wimp like that, but its been really good for me. Often times I slow down when I hit a scene I'm unsure of because I'm trying to get all the details. With Write or Die, I can't sit around thinking, or heck worrying about spelling, so I get the gist of the scene down. Then when thats done, I clean it up, make it look presentable and coherent, and move on. The best thing is I invariably add around 200 more words to a scene I've done in Write or Die, and it takes me less than half the time to spit it out of my noggin than if I'd toiled without Dr Wicked.
I've also gotten some awesome support from my Twitter friends, and its kept me pretty much on track. Throughout the day I tweet about my current progress, and my cheerleaders either *shake pompoms*, *throw confetti* (I love that part), or *whap!* me if I haven't made much progress without good reason, like my ADD has taken over or I've been sleep deprived. They're very good about helping me through the afternoon, when my meds wear off and my mind begins to wander. I'm so glad I began tweeting before NaNo, because I don't think I'd ever keep up without the support I'm getting, and the accountability for not reaching goals or slacking off. My tweets about my progress during the day look something like this:
Current Accountability: 3,619 words down, 1,381 to go to hit todays #writegoal of 5k. Have headache. Will power through.#amwriting
ALSO, I've joined a writers meetup group in my area, and I'll be going to the NaNo write ins and meetings in my region, which is thankfully relatively close. I'm finally getting out of my lonely writers bubble, and I'm really excited by this. Nervous too, but I'm ready to face my minor social phobia and rejoin the land of the living. ADD and panic attacks can do that to a girl, but I'm so much better now, and I've found my place in the world, finally. Its with all you fabulous readers and writers, who love words and stories as much as I do.
Well, my twitter writing buddies are *whapping* me to get started on my daily #writegoal, so off I go!
So I've been hearing about NaNoWriMo from just about every writer on Twitter. I've checked it out before, but because I'm working on a WIP already, I was all "Eh, I'll do it next year, I'm not prepared." Then today my friend @allikat was all "Go to the San Antonio Forum on NanoWriMo, talk to my friend Jami she's awesome!" (I'm sure you she is) so I did and it looked neat as usual but my muse was all "Nah, we're not ready, don't press that button that says sign up and put in all the required information". But then I wanted to post to to one of the forum topics and so I clicked that damn button and input all the required information, thinking I'd sign up on the website and be kind of like a motivator with pompoms and confetti with GLITTER (if you follow me on Twitter, this should be familiar by now) and not actually be writing 50k words in one month during the holidays, but no, as it turns out I WAS SIGNING UP FOR THE WHOLE SHEBANG.
I'm on Chapter 2 of a major rewrite for the current WIP, and because I can't write two novels at once, I need to finish it by November. I don't even know how many words this WIP is supposed to be, so I've no idea how many words a day to aim for. Do you know what all this means? I HAVE TO WRITE A WHOLE NOVEL IN 29 DAYS, THEN AN EXTRA ONE IN *counts days in November* 30 DAYS. *dies*
I won't back out of NaNoWriMo now, but I feel like my muse is toying with my emotions, being all "Oh, no I don't want to do that, we aren't ready" then recruiting a Twitter friend into her little scheme and sneak attack me into signing up for it and now she's laughing at me. Do you hear that? Its maniacal.
Oh wait. Thats me.
So now that I'm signed up, I'm going into a panic attack. Thanks.
As many of you probably already know, this is Banned Book Week. I realize many of you will come across hundreds if not thousands of blogs from authors, librarians, booksellers and readers about the injustice of attempted bannings across America. And no doubt articles from newspapers, magazines, political and social conservatives tearing down the practice of taking one week out of each year to bring to the nations attention that book banning is no longer a thing of the past.
As an aspiring writer and avid reader, it should come as no surprise that I support Banned Book Week. It saddens me that people, and it seems it's mainly parents, feel that any book, any story, would be not only be unfit for their childrens minds, but for ANY children. You see, the majority of books people ask to have removed from library shelves are young adult genres, books meant for middle and high schoolers. Often the books that are challenged are due to sexual content and drug abuse, but they run the gammut from offensive language, homosexuality, religious and or political viewpoints, violence, and racism. Ready to start challenging books? WAIT.
Has it not occurred to some of these book banners that these stories can actually HELP young adults overcome some of the obstacles of life? Take for instance Crank, by Ellen Hopkins. A story loosely based on her OWN DAUGHTERS emergence into drugs, prostitution to get money for those drugs, rape and pregnancy. This is not a pretty thing. Yes, there is sex and drugs, but this is a cautionary tale. And I took that warning. I had friends in high school that were into drugs, some more than others. I never felt comfortable talking with my parents about either subject, and I'd considered experimenting in both, partly to see what if felt like and partly to be 'cool'. I did neither, because of Crank. It scared, and pardon my language, the ever living crap out of me. The truth of what could happen to me if I even toyed with drugs or sex horrified me. I even hit one of my closer friends for asking me if I wanted to join them at her house for some 'dope shit' as she called it.
Quite frankly, my story is lame compared to some of the letters Mrs. Hopkins (sorry if I got the salutation wrong) has received over the years. She has cited letters from girls in the SAME POSITION as she'd written. And it had given them HOPE. All her books portray the horrors of real life, lessons for children to learn if they are not in those positions. They are hard, gritty, and even for me sometimes difficult to read. But they are also good, they teach and show, and they make readers grow as people. So yes, maybe you can speak openly, candidly with your children about the horrors of drugs and sex, but there are so many others who can't. YOU ARE NOT THE ENTIRE SCHOOL'S / LIBRARY'S PARENT. My mother wrote a letter to my lunch ladies telling them I could only have the meal and nothing from the snack line. She knew them by sight and name. This isn't hard to do, people. Most schools now have swipe/ scan ID cards, and mine was able to block certain things. Like the yummy snack line.
Another thing I don't understand is the banning of positive portrayals of homosexuality, political or religious viewpoints, etc. These are VIEWS, I've not read one book that demands I subscribe to their beliefs. Instead they make me THINK. And thinking is good, last time I heard. Because of all the books I've read, including as a child, middle school and high school student, I've developed a strong self awareness. I know my strengths, and accept my weaknesses even as I try and better myself. And realize that while your protection may actually keep them from harm as children or teens, when they become adults, go off to college, get jobs and move away from you, they will face the real world, and you may have crippled their ability to navigate its tough waters. If you do not believe that will be the case with your own children, then good for you. But remember, not all kids have such great parents as you, and you may be damning them to a harsher existence without the aide and hope the books most commonly challenged could give them.
My main problem with the idea of Banning or Challenging books is the idea of INTOLERANCE at the heart. My life motto "Tolerate everything but Intolerance." An oxymoron? No, not in my mind. I could hate everything a person has to say, but I will not confront them unless they have proven themselves ignorant or intolerant. By intolerance, I mean they refuse to allow whatever they fear or dislike enter their sphere of life in any way. I give you an example:
If you were at an art gallery, and your friend was browsing, looking for a painting to buy, what would you do? Look around, of course. If there are many artists on display, you will have your opinion, those pieces you like and those you don't. Your friend has found and fallen in love with, oh, lets say this painting, Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War), 1936 by Salvador Dali. You hate it. You can't stand it. But your friend loves it. Would you tell them "I hate it, I can't stand it. Its gross, who would want that in their home? They should ban it." No, you probably wouldn't. If you did, frankly you're not much of a friend. But they ask your opinion. Myself, I would say something to the effect of "Its a great mastery of paint, the sky quite well done and realistic. I like the fluidity, the surreal form against the soft, seemingly abstract background. I personally don't like the subject, a little too vulgar for my taste, but I can RESPECT THE ARTIST AND THOSE WHO LOVE HIS WORK."
See what I did there? I gave it credit, I respected the work, and I can appreciate the mastery of the technique. I don't like much of Dali's work myself, but I would never say I hate it and it should be banned. Why? Its a different way of looking at life, a different perspective. I've been in that position, with a print (not that one) of Dali's work a friend so dearly wanted. I was excited for her, not because I liked the painting but because she did. That is what's important. I let her have her opinion and did not think less of her when it didn't coincide with mine.
As in art, so in books.
There should be no reason for intolerance, with books especially. Closed, they cannot speak to those who do not pick them up and open them. If you don't want your kids reading something, fine. But don't force your ideals on other children. A better understanding of sexual orientation, race, political and religious beliefs can lead to greater understanding between everyone. Offensive language? Trust me, your child has heard worse than anything written in YA books. Sex? Your kids know more about it than maybe you do. Kids talk about 'taboo' subjects because you don't want them to, and they're curious. Seriously? Books are not the root of teen pregnancies, shoplifting, drug usage. If you want to stop those things from entering your kids minds, look at what they watch on TV (Gossip Girl?) and the games their playing (Grand Theft Auto anyone?).*
Most of all I just want to know why. Why? Why ban a book entirely from the presence of people who would read and learn from them, whether the author intended a lesson or no? Why is any book so wrong for anyone to read? Some have argued that a book may have been removed from the shelf of one library, but is available in another. So? You have now marked that book for more bans. Just because the government no longer bans books does not mean its not a problem anymore. You are claiming yourself above the ideas in the book, and you are not. No one is above an idea. No one.
Often I see cases where news anchors and advocates of banning books point out the word *fuck* appears 17 times in a book, that sex is described, etc. They fail to put those things in context to the story written around them. Why? Because they don't want to admit those things are valid. That sex may be rape. *Fuck* may have been said by a parent in the story. Let each parent make their own decision, and keep yours to yourself, please, especially if you want to go on a tirade. Because anyways, if you push and/ or succeed in a banning, it only brings whatever book you banned into the public eye, and curious people who may not have read it will do so.
In conclusion, I ask again.
Why Ban the Damn Book?
*Gossip Girl and Grand Theft Auto are fine in my opinion, so long as you TALK WITH YOUR KIDS ABOUT THE CONTENT. Just like with books.
So, I've been working on revisions the last few days, but you know that nagging thought at the back of my head I mentioned earlier? Yeah, it wouldn't go away. So I had to have another heart to heart with my WIP. It turns out, its a weak little thing that knows it won't make it past a form rejection, and definitely not past a partial.
Alas, I must rewrite the whole thing. From basically scratch. Only three bare boned plot points are staying - the beginning, the climax, and the end. I've been a busy little bee working out how to redo this. I decided it was time I write down every little detail of all my characters, really work on the world building, and do an outline before I get down to actually writing out the scenes.
Problems? Oh, yeah, you know... a BIG one.
Well, it feels big, though I know I know the answer, I just can't yank it out of the ether. Because no matter how gun ho I am about the rewrite, the almost complete change in the flow, the research to ensure my characters and my world are realistic, the PLOT of the last draft still won't DIE. It won't leave me alone! HAUNTING ME! *puts on Evanescence Haunted* I keep trying to fit the last plot in with my current working one. All I've got so far is the first three sentences of the basic outline - as soon as I get past that, it becomes a bastardization of the old plot. Its getting really annoying, I must say.
THERE IS HOPE!
Why, in the reading of books! I'm taking to reading a bit before bed, and with more influences, I think I may be able to power through this plot pause. In fact, thats how I got the idea for the book to begin with - the meshing of several plots, themes, etc from other books. But I don't mind this terribly, because I still have quite a bit of work to do on the characters and world building. I'm thinking of entering NaNoWriMo this year. Get all the outlining, characters, etc done and then hopefully zoom through the new first draft in November. Here's hoping I actually sign up!
For you writers out there - how do you get through plot holes? Have you ever had to do a major rewrite? How did you get past the old plot and work out a new one?
The lovely @robinwasserman pointed this morning to a quote on the Young Adult Science Fiction genre, Young Adult Science Fiction is Getting More Pessimistic, Less Scientific. The link will show you the whole quote, but here it is as well, posted by Charlie Jane Anders:
"[In] the Golden Age... there was an emphasis on writing for young people, to essentially hook them and get them excited about the genre, so they would become lifelong science fiction readers. And in those works, juveniles written by people like Heinlein and Asimov and Andre Norton and such, there was this sense that technology was good. Part of this was because many of these authors were trained as scientists themselves, engineers [or] physicists. There was the idea — a sense of wonder — that young people could grow up in to this new technological world and really change it and make it their own. And so even the ones that seemed negative in some ways — for example Robert Heinlein's Starman Jones was a story that had a very negative view of the way the Earth was developing, people couldn't get into jobs they wanted unless they were essentially born into a family that held one of those jobs. There was little advancement... but because space was out there, a young man could go out there — and in this case, most of the time it was a young man — and make his way. And that negative view of how things might turn out was in fact just the spark the heroic character needed to light a fire under him and motivate him to go out and make his own way. And actually, in the end, change the world.
"And some of the things I see now, particularly in science fiction juveniles, are of a different character. And part of that I think is because the authors writing them are not trained in the sciences, they're trained in the humanities. And they are looking back at the legacy of what science is doing, has done, on everything from environmental issues to questions of weaponry and warfare, and they're sort of taking stock of this, and I wouldn't say necessarily that it's all pessimism, but you don't see the same sense of wonder balanced in the same way. It's become more self-critical, particularly in these works that are hitting the, say, 14 to 18 year old readers and bringing them into the genre for the first time." — Professor Amy Sturgis, interviewed by NPR station WFPL for "The Subversive Side Of Science Fiction" (Full podcast at link). [via Geekend]
And now, my response. I tried leaving a comment, but you have to jump through hoops to be able to do so.
Science has grown exponentially, to a point where some areas have hit a temporary stalemate. Consider that the human race has made more breakthroughs in technology and science in the last 5, 10 years than in the last 5,000. Sci Fi writers of the past could imagine ahead a world of technology as a dawning of the greatness of man far easier than we can now, for that very reason. They weren't advancing as much as we are today, when we measure tech progress in days and weeks, not months or years. This, I believe, is the main root of this supposed pessimistic shift of sci fi today, not the lack of science training for writers.
Some of the many YA Sci Fi books I've read are post-Apocalyptic, but its the survival beyond that thats heartening. As an avid reader of YA Sci Fi, and an aspiring YA writer myself, I don't see a presence of negativity in the new teen protagonists, I see them overcome the loss of technology, the determination to rebuild their world. Just as with Asimov, negativity from outside is what spurs the characters on, but in a different direction - towards a unity of society.
And frankly, this overall generalization is disturbing. The quote reads that this woman, Amy Sturgis, may not be carefully reading the books she doesn't actually name. Where are the examples of general negativity in the characters? Where is the pessimism of the future? Why would we ignore the hurts our Scientific Progress has done to the planet we call home? Why would we be held in awe by new technology, instead of asking what more damage will it do to the world? Self-critical is also called caution, its a way of becoming more self aware. Being trained in science or humanities doesn't have a bearing here - its what we do with science that directs the world. And its how the youth of our imagined futures deals with it that is the most insightful - they aren't as influential as the adults that run the world, and so they MUST act and react with the world the best they know how.
Science without humanity can and often is deadly, as we've seen in history, and this is what authors are pointing at, whether by will or no.
Books, as in science and technology, must evolve with the times, and on a more superficial level, the wonder that the good Professor says is lacking is mainly due to the lack of newness of the new technology. Its expected now, rather than hoped for. History is cyclical, and again we are trying to become more aware of ourself as a people, a society. Its the sign of the ages, and thats what writers write about.
On Sunday I finally admitted to myself why I hadn't done any transcribing of my WIP for a week.
I finally said aloud that my main character, Bertrand, was too perfect.
He grew up in an upper middle class loving family with supportive parents and best friends for sisters. Perfectly shy but still friendly, with everyone from the stable boy to the freaking King wanting to be his friend. He makes strong lasting friendships that border on reverence, tells his secrets to only the ones who would never reveal them, and somehow always knows exactly the right thing to do at the right time.
But who wants to read about a seventeen year old guy who's the final word in morality?
So I needed to go back and basically rewrite the whole damn thing. I didn't want to, not because of the work, but because, well... I didn't want to admit that my first draft wasn't brilliant. Yeah, I knew a few revisions and edits would be inevitable, but deep down I knew. I knew I actually thought this story would be a Masterpiece, the Next Big Thing since Harry Potter or Twilight.
The first step is admitting you have a problem.
However, I still didn't want to actually restart. I needed an incentive. I needed something to make the medicine of reality taste just a little bit sweeter. Which could very conveniently be found in my freezer.
And that made it so much easier. Sugar can make any difficult task so much more enjoyable. I've been really getting some work done, and I feel cautiously confident in my new draft. I'm back at my early morning routine, feeling out the character revisions and getting to know the "new and improved" Bertrand. I'm so happy writing again too - I feel like my life had gone all wacky and lopsided the week I didn't do any writing work, and now its all okay
I haven't blogged in a while, and neither have I written. My WIP sat languishing in its journals, no words typed in the computer for the last week. At first I thought I had just burnt myself out during #wordathon, an awesome Twitter hashtag that pushes writers to get words out or edit the ones they had already written. But then yesterday it dawned on me, horribly and with little warning.
There were major problems with my plot. And my characters.
I became extremely discouraged, scared that the work I had done was for nothing, that I would have to abandon this story because there was no way for it to work. But with some great encouragement from the #amwriting tweeps, I found the problem that, when fixed, would strengthen my novel as a whole. It was my Main Character, and even some of the others as well. Some were too perfect, dull and lifeless. Yes, they were probably people I had met or would meet in my life, people who generally seem to have a good, cheerful life. But who wants to read about them? I need to give my MC, and a few of the lesser protagonists, difficulties beyond the external ones they face in the story. So I began working up a new personality for the MC last night, and vowed to myself I would return to my daily writing schedule: wake up at 7:30am, take ADD meds, get coffee, check Twitter, then once I felt the meds and coffee kick in, start writing.
But that wasn't how it happened. My husband let the cat out of her room, so as soon as I opened my bedroom door she was behind me, trying to climb up my legs. The coffee pot has a sizable crack along its side. I find this out by the water pouring out the wrong end. Thankfully, I have a spare coffee maker. Only we're out of filters. I go to Walgreens. I get back, let my three dogs in, feed the cat on the dining room table, the highest she can go to get away from the dogs. Only Pepper, the middle dog, has learned how to jump from window sill to chair to table, and has been eating the kittens food when I shut myself in my office. I let the cat into my office and feed her there. Then she thinks its okay to suckle my lip while kneading my boobs, neck and face with her claws. And she wouldn't stop, even with reprimanding her with the spray bottle. I have 10 claw marks, just from today, one of them pretty deep. Then I try calling my husband at work, only his phone is turned off. And when he does finally call me back, its with bad new about our impending move to New York City. Or rather, its no longer in our foreseeable future. Crap.
I'm depressed. My New York dream may never happen, because I was stupid and insisted we buy a house only a year after our marriage. I'm only 23 for f*cks sake! I'm a drifter, I like to move, travel, see new places. But no. I had to buy into the "American Dream" and that we could afford the mortgage on a house so early on was bait. Now we're stuck. I'm pissed at myself. I'm so unhappy. We both hate Texas heat, but yet we're still here. I feel trapped, and we can't sell the house yet because part of the roof needs to be fixed, there are drill wholes needing to be filled, carpet to replace, etc etc etc. Even if we can fix the broken stuff and sell the house, we can't do that until the end of next summer, because we'll lose money. And with the expenses of fixing and selling the house, we won't be able to afford moving.
I'm sorry. I know I'm ranting. My husband, whom I love for trying, always comes off blasé about, well, anything. He's really even tempered, which makes me feel like a complete *ss whenever I get bent out of shape about this stuff. And with all this happening on the day I was supposed to luxuriate in my writing, I can't concentrate anymore. I don't even remember what I've been thinking about the last few hours. My day is ruined, and I hate being depressed. I want to cry. I can't even write it away.
This morning I read a lovely post by Rachelle Gardner at her blog, which you can find here, about Advances on a book one would sell. It was to the point, kind, and informative. As I was reading the comments, someone dropped a link to another blog, by Joe Quirk, titled Authors: Just say "No!" to your advance.
And while he does make some good points, a few of which Rachelle did as well, his blog was more of a rant, belittling, rude, and crass. Here are some quotes directly from the blog, and my interpretation. But first, some backstory, which he himself provides.
Joe Quirk is a published author of four books and goes through Numina Press, a print-on-demand publisher. Print-on-demand publishers do just as they say- they only print once an order has been made, and normally only the amount that has been ordered, which basically means the authors do get more money in royalties. This is not to say I am for print-on-demand, simply some facts. Then he lists the objections traditionally published authors would make:
Your choice, living authors. Take home:So right off the bat, he has something against the "Big New York Publishers." Huh. We'll see were that goes later on.
$1.50 from a $23 book, or
$4.50 from a $16 book.
Wait. You have to give up a lot of perks for this tripling of your pay, and my living author friends are quick to list their objections:
Big New York publishers will give me an advance!
Big New York publishers will get me publicity!
Big New York publishers will pay for a book tour!
Big New York publishers will get me book store placement!
But if I accept triple money with a print-on-demand publisher, Big New York publishers will punish me! My agent will be mad!Okay, stop flapping your wrists like a pack of sissies. Let's walk through each of the standard fear-driven objections one by one.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/jquirk/detail?entry_id=46347&o=1#ixzz0QvQS7m4N
An advance is a chance to ruin your career. A big advance for a first or second book is a chance to almost guarantee your career will end six months after your book comes out, and nobody will tell you until you write and try to sell your second book. A gigunda advance? That spells an almost certain death.I do not agree with the first sentence. I do however, concede with the last one. A gigantic advance can derail a new authors career, because there's more pressure to earn out the advance, meaning more books have to be sold, which is much harder for a new author than for one who has written several novels and developed a faithful following of readers.
The bigger the advance, the worse it is for the author.
Seventy percent of published books don't earn back their advance. Add to the balance sheet the costs of printing, shipping, and promotion, and that means even more than 70% of books lose money for the publisher. That means the majority of published authors get a permanent Big Red Mark next to their name.I have nothing to say about this quote, but a question to ask: Where did he get this information? I saw nowhere were Joe could direct me to the hard facts, he just gave them to us. Have you heard that pun that says "37% of statistics are made up on the spot"? Yeah, thats what I thought too.
Publishers don't know why most books don't sell, nor do they understand why most of their riches are made off less than 5% of the new authors they publish, and they don't know what to do about their ignorance, but they do know how to do one thing: blame the author.
If your first book lost them money, they will not publish your second book, no matter how many copies it sold.
So move on to another publisher? Not so fast. Publishers share sales information with their competitors. That's right, competing New York publishers close ranks in solidarity against the authors who might have sold well but lost money. Most major publishers, before they read your new book, run straight to the stats and see how well your last book sold, how much money was spent on it, how much was earned back, and their eyes go straight to the bottom line: Did it lose money? If the answer is yes, they don't waste their time reading your new book.And what's wrong with that? Would an employer read your resume and not call your previous employer to see if you actually did a good job? The same plays here. I will confess I don't know much about the process from first to second book, but I'm almost certain that this instance he's describing is not an absolute. This business requires subjectivity.
Because the industry-- the publicists and publishers who say they love you and your work-- pushes the blame for their crap-ass expensive publicity decisions onto the author, who had nothing to do with it.
The author doesn't control the expenses. The publisher does. Yet the only thing that works in the trickle-down theory is the trickle-down theory of blame.This is were Joe starts getting on my nerves. He's angry. I get that, but I don't get why until a little later. Next he talks more about what Advances actually are.
It ain't free money, ladies. It's a loan. It's an advance against royalties. What happens to your "credit rating" when you don't pay it back?
The bad boys come to break your legs. You've heard of "legs" in the entertainment industry? My first book had legs. The damn thing is still jogging after more than a decade, but I don't get any money for it, and neither does my publisher. It's making money for all those used-books pirates selling it through the platform that amazon provides for them.So, the guy who doesn't have room for the books he won't read again, or the family thats having a garage sale to find the money for the crib they need for the baby their having, or hell the freaking LIBRARIES that buy your book so underprivileged communities can enjoy them without a fee, they're all PIRATES, are they? And this is where you can tell that our lovely Joe has been burned.
The only thing harder that being an unpublished unknown trying to convince an agent to glance at your manuscript is being a bestselling author who didn't pay back his advance. Better the "slush pile" than the Red Name on the balance sheet. The "slush pile" is purgatory, and most writers reside their forever. The Red Name on the balance sheet is hell, and it's eternal.
You know what the "slush pile" is, right? It's your publisher's name for your manuscript. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Isn't that funny? You don't make art! You make slush!Actually, quite a lot of us do write slush. It takes time and patience to hone the craft of writing, and even longer to create a novel that an agent feels compelled to represent. We get it. Its hard to break in. As for the "slush pile" dig, well, those are unsolicited queries, and as everyone knows or can guess, agents get a LOT of those. But then, how the hell are we ever gonna get those agents to read our works? Slush is not a derogatory comment to much of the writing that is found in that pile, its just the sheer number in it. Or at least, thats how I choose to take it.
When you get giddy because these folks bestow an advance upon your slush, you're admitting that you don't have faith your book will sell. When your agent sticks that carrot in front of your nose, and your eyes well up with joyful tears, your heart is saying:
"Now I get paid even if I don't sell books! How nice of my major NY publisher to take all the financial risk! No wonder they're called Saint Martins!"
Some of you poets and authors spend so much time thinking deep thoughts you can't figure out a basic business arrangement. The publisher is giving you a loan against money you haven't earned yet, and if you don't pay it back, the publisher will not forget this. The publisher is taking a short-term financial risk while making sure the author takes a longer-term risk of career catastrophe.Now this is were I start getting a little pissed. The text that I've bolded so graciously for you all is were he starts making fun of us more insistently, and thats unnecessary. What he fails to realize, and to acknowledge of himself in his past (we'll see that later), is the amount of faith we have in our manuscripts to actually SEND THEM OUT to agents, knowing we'll get a fistful of form rejections in the fervent hope of getting an acceptance to have the novel represented. But it is true that the publisher is taking a small monetary risk in the face of a writers career risk. A catastrophe? I don't think so. A fluke? More likely. And if another publisher loved the book that didn't earn out, then they may give the author a second chance, albeit with a lower print run and advance. Not earning out is not the end of the road, just a speed bump, in varying sizes.
I've received advances everywhere from $255,000 (from Saintly Martins) to $1,000 (from Skorpion, my Croatian publisher, who at least chooses an honest name. If I founded a publishing house based on the NY business model, I'd call it Rat Snake Press).Aaahhh. NOW we get to the gist of his angst. He's pissed! He's been burned! Saintly Martins trusted in his first novel so much, wanted it before their competitors got to it, and then it bombed! How shocking. NOT. Throughout the article Joe Quirk is snooty, callus, and bitchy. And this is why. But this is a business, like so many others that have to hedge their bets to get a head start. So were is he ranting about the hairdresser who has to take a loan to start her own salon?
255K to 1K? What's going on? Am I a big shot or a shlump?
What drives an advance? Fear by the publisher that their competitor will get the book. Period. Publishers pay large advances to outbid other publishers from getting their claws on what might be the Next Big Thing. It has to do with pre-publication panic. It's got nothing to do with being nice to you. If publishers wanted to be nice to you, they wouldn't start your career placing you in debt to them.
Next time your publisher offers you an advance, turn it down. Earn your money by selling books. Why should you get money up front? Stop paying back huge loans from your big NY publisher with small espressos. See if your book is good enough to get accepted at a commercial print-on-demand publisher, and set up a relationship with your readers. They pay enough for a music CD; you get a sandwich. No bets, no debts.He offers nothing else but the option to turn down an advance. Why? Why not accept a modest advance instead, insist on it? Furthermore, this is something you should be discussing with your AGENT. They are the ones who can lay down the facts. And quite frankly, a print-on-demand publisher isn't for everyone. Again, something to discuss with your agent, if that is a route you are considering. Like I stated above, you can read the whole blog and make your own opinions. Here's the link in its entirety. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/jquirk/detail?entry_id=46347&o=1
What bothered me about Joe Quirks article was not that he took a stand, but that he did so by talking down to his readers and making fun of traditionally published authors. He gave his opinion, but insisted we take his side. He didn't comment objectively on the practices of both types of publishing. He ranted. And as a best selling author, I feel he needed to be calm, cool and collected even as he sided against taking advances, or going with a print-on-demand publisher.
Rachelle Gardner, on the other hand, warns if there is snark in her blogposts, apologizes if she inadvertently insulted someone, and is generally even keeled in her blog. She gives advise, says "I think" if it is in fact her own opinion, and directs her readers to their own agents for all the information they would need. Most of all she is kind.
And in a business that is all about subjectivity, about whether an agent or publisher likes your book, kindness is very welcome, and being mean for the sake of being mean, or because you're pissed, is uncalled for.
Have your own thoughts on the matter? Drop me a comment!
Yesterday, and for the last week, I'd been having trouble wanting to work on transcribing and revising/ editing my WIP. I found all kinds of distractions, but always the nagging voice of my tired muse would remind me that I should be typing. But I didn't want to. I became lethargic, uncaring and even a little angry, both at myself and my muse. Somehow nothing I typed seemed right, new words even less so. I didn't even want to blog, thats how bad it was. And it felt like cheating if I tweeted. But then I realized the root of my guilt for not wanting to write.
I was MAKING myself feel guilty.
Everyone needs a break now and then, and its encouraged between drafts for authors. It gives us space and objectivity, coming at it fresh and ready to pounce on the words, scenes or even characters that are unnecessary. My muse was making me feel guilty because I hadn't given her permission for a breather, so she kept badgering me even though she was in no shape to go on.
I needed to explain to myself and my muse that ITS OKAY TO RELAX.
And we did. I started rereading Hunger Games, so I can fully appreciate Catching Fire. I let myself enjoy playing some online games, and went to sleep early. And do you know what? IT FELT GREAT. I woke up excited to write again, eager to get to my journal and laptop and fix the scene I needed to change. I was still groggy, but I made my coffee, hurriedly fed and watered Office Kitteh, Window Doggeh, Begging Doggeh, and Afraid of Office Kitteh Doggeh, and rushed out to my writing cave in the garage. And I'm HAPPY. Cheerful, even.
I've also decided that I'll stop working at 1pm, and read, play games, watch TV, anything I want to do so long as its relaxing. This way, I hopefully won't fall into the pit of "meh" like before.
Nothing horrific has happened- no deaths, no accidents, nothing bad.
I'm just not feeling it.
Every day for the past week or so it takes SO MUCH out of me to get just 1,000 words transcribed. I daydream, play games online, chat on twitter, and do various mindless activities. I haven't even blogged for a whole week, and I know its because the words aren't coming. Its difficult to make myself type this now, but I want to because you, my readers, are wondering what the hell happened to me. Or not, but I'm pretending you guys are concerned.
I'm guessing I didn't take a big enough break between my pre first draft in longhand to transcribing my WIP to my MacBook. I only read one book (which was amazing) before starting to type up the words. That may or may not be the culprit, or it could be the late nights of game playing, or just plain restlessness. I'm worried I may kill my muse if I work her too hard, but I don't want to give up.
I think I need a vacation. I don't work, so I mean I just wanna go to a different location other than my hometown. A Writers Retreat, if you will, even if its just me. Even if I don't actually get much writing done, I think the change of scenery and pace will really help me out.
But for now, I sit at my desk, doing this:
Earlier last week I finished my pre first draft of my first WIP, which you can read about here. So anyways, I took half a days break before it called me back, needing me to fix all the extremely awkward parts. So I returned, eager to clean up the decidedly trashed bits. I've finished the first two chapters, a few times merging scenes that themselves took too long, tightening up dialogue or description, and general maintenance.
The hard part for me is seeing how, well, bad my writing was when I started longhanding. Because I couldn't go back and tweak each and every sentence as a better version came to me, it forced me to keep moving forward. It's also making me realize that the first draft of any novel can be VERY ugly. I'm trying not to mind it, knowing it was just the bones of the story and soldiering my way through it. But to be honest, it stings a bit, seeing these choppy, unsavory sentences even as I work to make them a little less painful.
The first day was especially difficult, partly because I was mixing the original beginning with the next major scene in order to maintain the flow, but mainly it was the sentence structure that stuck out to me. I kept doing double takes at the words written in my journal, surprised to see that I wasn't as beautifully natural a writer as I thought. Well, not when I'm trying to catch up with a Muse that's two scenes ahead, anyways. It took me that night and half the following morning to reconcile myself with the idea that, yes, the first draft will ALWAYS, invariably, suck. Yes, there will be some awesome passages, and I may tear up at the gorgeousness of a scene as I write it.
But every time I go back to type out my WIP, I HAVE to brace myself against the possible disasters I may encounter when I transcribe, revise, edit. Its the only way to make it all better. Not perfect, but better. And that gives me hope. I hack away at the words with determination and zeal, rearranging them or tossing them as I see fit until my writers voice is truly present and my characters fully formed.
So, I think of the immense sense of accomplishment I will feel when I'm ready to start querying for a literary agent, the optimistic confidence in that I had done all I could without the guidance of one. Even if the manuscript doesn't catch the eye of an agent, I will know that I put in all this work to hone my craft, learn who I am as a writer, and grow as a person. It makes me proud of myself, determined to fulfill that feeling in the future, time and time again.
How do you get inspired to return to your own editing and revisions?
Andrea at MiG Writers made a very good point in yesterdays blog. However proud you are of a finished, polished novel you've written, refrain from reading it when you're working on a new first draft.
So, Carrie Ryan, author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, is giving away two personalized/ autographed copies of Diana Peterfreund's RAMPANT. Carrie and Diana became critique partners during NaNoWriMo in 2005, and Carrie's been hoarding her copies. But no more!
Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns…
The sparkly, innocent creatures of lore are a myth. Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. And they can only be killed by virgin descendants of Alexander the Great.
Fortunately, unicorns have been extinct for a hundred and fifty years.
Astrid Llewelyn has always scoffed ather eccentric mother’s stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend in the woods – thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to prom – Astrid learns that unicorns are real and dangerous, and she has a family legacy to uphold. Her mother packs her off to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.
However, at the cloisters, all is not what is seems. Outside, the unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from crumbling, bone-covered walls that vibrate with a terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to – perhaps most dangerously of all – her growing attraction to a handsome art student… and a relationship that could jeopardize everything.
I'm super excited about this, but it was a big surprise when I got to the end. For three days I'd been **thisclose** to finishing, but it wouldn't find the end. And then today my muse shifted into high gear. I don't normally get a cramped hand when I write, but today it was INTENSE. And then, all of a sudden, BAM. I stared at the page, thinking I'd hit a block, but then I actually looked at the last sentence.
I sat there for a second, not sure what to do with myself. I'd been writing nonstop for a whole month, morning and evening. It was my entire life, because I don't work. I'd asked everyone if I should take a break or go straight to transcribing, and I will be taking that break. But it was just... wow. I was actually done.
So dance with me as I celebrate the finish of my pre first draft of my first full length novel!