Let’s Clear The Air: Editing is a Bitch

My New Year writing resolution would be going quite swimmingly, except for the fact that I’m editing (for the seventh time) Finding Cadence. I signed up for a mentor’s class at Savvy Author, and received the final edit back mid-December. So I’ve been industriously working on her suggestions as to plot and pacing, as well as tightening up my sentences and eliminating all of the unnecessary words. My goal is to finalize the edit and streamline The Epic Tome to 120K words. Should be easy, right? I’ve been working on this baby since 2007. I’ve taken classes, I’ve let BETA readers take a stab, and editors. I’ve bookmarked every helpful writer site on the Internet. This book should be just about finished. Armed with this kind of firepower, I should have the edit sewed up in no time.

Heh…

After this weekend, I’ve come to the conclusion that editing is a bitch.

Saturday afternoon was spent on an entire chapter. After three hours of painstaking concentration, I was nearly ready to throw in the towel. (Yes, I have felt this way about this particular book many, many times in the last five years.) I had to get up, do something else. Changing the sheets seemed like a good idea, especially since I suffer from night sweats and my husband sleeps with a heating pad under his knee. Refreshed by the freshness of Bounced bedding, I returned to the computer, only to struggle for a few more hours.

I took out sentences, I shortened long, cumbersome ones. I reworded and eliminated gerunds and “justs” and questions and empty words like “oh” and “well.” (And “oh, well.”) Still, this particular chapter was a huge struggle, and I felt as though I wasn’t getting anywhere. Especially when I reached the end of the chapter and found my editor’s notes (she must have nothing to edit in between, they are always at the end). She thought I had to pick up the pace in order not to lose readers.

*sigh*

We’re talking Chapter 6 here. There are thirty more to go.

All of a sudden (I know…so cliche), I looked up and realized it was dark. I hadn’t even started dinner; heck, I wasn’t hungry. My husband was on his way home from work; I implored him to pick something up from the grocery store. (My normal modus operandi is to cook from scratch, which is probably why both of us need a crash diet. He was not amused that I hadn’t even planned a meal.) Luckily, I had just wrapped up Chapter 6 (for now), and rushed to put my computer away.

Sunday was a much better editing day. I actually breezed through three more chapters. Still, I’m on a search and destroy mission to pare the first part down. 7K to go. Oh, my.

Cross your fingers, and your toes.

Advertisements

Regrets and Resolutions: A Writer’s End of Year

I honestly don’t understand how some published authors are so prolific. Especially mind boggling are those who have small children, businesses or day jobs, health problems, and the like. My life (especially the last few months) is at times so chaotic, it’s sweet relief to fall into bed at night. As a result, writing as taken a definite back seat.

Yet I try to squeeze out some writing time on a regular basis. I could be doing other things, like being more productive in my business(es) (totally boring), working out (uber boring), or maintaining my house and yard (not so boring, but time consuming). I could promote my writing more, but I’d feel like a huckster on a street corner peddling apples. Plus I’m too laid back (i.e. lazy) to do real promotion. I’m an artist: you either love my work, or you don’t. No hard feelings.

If I have one writing regret of 2012, it’s that I haven’t written MORE. Unfortunately, life threw me a couple of obstacles this year, and precious time was taken up by other more pressing matters. Maybe I was hoping the Mayans were right and I’d have no qualms about my absenteeism if I didn’t wake up on the 22nd.

Of course, that didn’t happen. The sun came up the next day.

2013 is starting early for me. Like TODAY.  My writing resolutions are as such:

1. Write more. I know. I say this all the time, but I need self-flagellation on a regular basis. Perhaps I should pencil that in on my calendar? While I’m throwing that idea on the fire, perhaps blogging more would be a good idea too.

2. Write more carefully. (Excuse my probably bad sentence.) Use what I’ve learned over the last few years to prevent writing mistakes before they happen. That way I won’t have such a heavy burden when it comes time to…

3. Edit more carefully. I’ve been working on Finding Cadence since 2007. I’m on my sixth edit, and I’m amazed to find errors and awkward phrasing even now. While I’m not exactly pleased as punch with Virtually Yours, the book served a purpose, mainly to remind me that editing never ends.

4. Study more. I love the Savvy Authors web site. So far, I’ve taken two classes and found them to be most helpful. The support and feedback are wonderful.

5. Network more. While I don’t write genre romance (my work does have romantic elements) I belong to the RWA and the Greater Detroit RWA and I’m a terrible member. I need to attend more meetings. I might need to branch out and find a serious critique group.

6. And finally, finish all of the half-baked projects I have hidden on my hard drive. I’ve got excellent ideas and compelling stories, but they won’t finish themselves. Time is short; I am old. I really need to start writing as fast as I can. After all, if someone with children under the age of 5 can do it, I should be able to.

For writers, writing is life. It’s the air we breathe. We have to channel our imagination somewhere, or we turn into tortured souls.

Leaving now to find my source of oxygen.

A Writer’s New Year Resolutions

I know. I’m a day early. So shoot me. I have plans for tomorrow, not for wild partying and ringing in the New Year, but for hunkering down at home with the hubby and enjoying a nice meal and bottle of bubbly. And maybe somewhere in there, I will prepare my manuscript for a query spree to begin next week.

Looking back over 2010, I’ve achieved a lot in my journey as a wanna-be published writer. Here is the breakdown, in no particular order:

1. I finished a few edits on Book #2. In fact, I think I’ve edited it a dozen times. I lost count back in November. It is almost, almost ready for a wild round of querying.

2. I submitted my work in a few contests. Placed in a Query Tracker contest back in February. Just submitted into another this month and won’t know until February.

3. Attended the San Francisco Writers Conference, Year Two. Although I belong to Romance Writers of America and also the local RWA chapter, I attend the SFWC because… well, I don’t write romance. My work is women-aimed with romantic elements. There are plenty of romance writing resources during the conference in San Francisco, and I can’t afford two conferences – yet. I like the broad picture, because I have a lot of broad ideas.

4. Took a writing class. Not sure if I learned anything.

5. Queried once.

6. Took out Book #1 and really started going through it. I’m hopeful this will be in querying condition very soon.

Now… for the dreaded resolutions for 2011:

#1 with a bullet. Stay away from the Internet. This includes Twitter and Facebook. Facebook, especially. It’s not because I do any socializing on the dreaded, evil FB, it’s that I am addicted to FB games. I had been giving myself a pass on going online by telling myself I needed the Internet for research. Every once in a while, I would need to look up a map, find a grocery store in Fayetteville, North Carolina, or use the oft-trusty Thesaurus.com. Leaving the Internet wide open is like leaving me in a Godiva store, locking it and throwing away the key. I won’t come out. Not. Ever. Until the chocolate goodies are gone. Let’s face it; I can’t tear myself away from Scramble. I love words too much.

In order to aid my Internet avoidance, I have decided to A. only open Internet Explorer for “research” with tabs already set to where I need to go (instead of using Firefox, which has all my playtime tabs), and 2. go cold turkey on Facebook. Give myself a timer. I give myself 30 minutes a day, that’s it, and I will cut off my own fingers if I should fall off the wagon.

2. Really query more, not just talk about it. I’ve had several people beta read my book – they love it. I don’t think they are telling me this because I’m their friend, their relative, or their boss. One person even wrote a nice email detailing what she liked about it. I think it’s way past time to send my baby out into the world. I have to ready my query letter, let go of my baby, and go for the gold.

3. Resolution #3: Take another class. Signed up. Paid. Done and done.

4. Write more. I’m a basically lazy person, I know that. Plus, I sometimes get sidetracked by family issues, health issues, and Day Job issues. Sometimes I know I should write, but instead I take a detour and make a batch of persimmon cookies. Or, like yesterday, I was finally annoyed enough by the bathroom that I decided to clean it. I COULD HAVE BEEN WRITING!

5. Finally, I need to read more. OMG, my pile of books to read is dangerously high. It might fall over and kill the cat. (Yes, I am Kindle-less, but am thinking of taking the plunge, just so I can clear my bookshelf.) Come to think of it, a Kindle would hide my to-read pile. I’m going to nix that.

Other than the obvious, it’s back to the salt mines. Mining my head for stories.

See you next year.

New Year, New and Improved Writer (I hope…)

My last post found me braindead from the frenzied writing I accomplished during the 2009 NaNoWriMo. For once, I finished an entire book in thirty days. Granted, some of the chapters were woefully lacking, but NaNo is an exercise is writing as fast as you can, not in writing perfect sentences and airtight plots of the next Big Novel to make it to the New York Times bestsellers list. I am not that demented to think I could hatch a flawless work of art in thirty hurried days.

Christmas came and went without the return of adult children. In a way it was sad, but in another way, at least I didn’t feel obligated to drag the Christmas tree from the basement and decorate the house. Bah humbug reigned supreme.

With all the luscious Christmastime feasts (hey, just because the kiddies didn’t make it doesn’t mean we didn’t eat well), my resolution list was starting to look like an unscalable mountain. My first resolution was to write every day, which fell to the wayside by the fifth. (That was yesterday.) My second was to work out at least fifteen minutes a day. That one didn’t see the light of Day One. I also resolved to practice my violin more often. That also bit the dust until today. Granted, I had to take my instrument in for new strings and other adjustments and had put that off because as we all know, I am a World Class Procrastinator. I finally made it to Psarianos yesterday. Check off that chore.

Gentle readers, I did accomplish a few things in the area of writing, lest you think that I went totally overboard and morphed into a lazy slug. (I keep having this workaholic-slug slugfest in my mind. We know who wins most of the time.)

For one thing, I unleashed the NaNo novel Virtually Yours on two readers. One was a friend and the other a friend who writes. I spent a good week going over the book and fleshed out some parts and corrected others. Both readers loved it (I know, what are they going to say? They hate it?) and I took note of their edits.

Newly rewritten, I sent Virtually Yours off to yet another person for a third-party edit. I do not know this person and am prepared for an honest evaluation. She has only read the first half and so far has given it a thumbs up. I haven’t received her edits back yet.

Yesterday, I took a look at Acorns and Oaks — what there is of it — and realized it’s going to need a serious overhaul. Since it’s a companion book to Oaks and Acorns, I started it off as though the reader already knew the story. Bad idea. It had been so long since I’d worked on it that even I was lost.

So today, January 6, I am starting my resolutions anew. After the day job of getting people paid, I am retreating to my room to start anew. I am going to write no matter what, with the same frenzied abandon as I did in November, when my goal was 1,200 – 1,500 words a day or more. If I could do it then, I can do it now.

Happy New Year to me.