The Journey of Editing

Well, this is the last day I spend on editing Blood Healing before it goes back to my editor (she may drop me as a client when she reads it :P).

I’ve been so enmeshed in this story. I’ve even neglected and distanced myself from loved ones as I fiddled with word choice, agonised over plot and sentence structure. Finally, what I was viewing in parts, fragments, has come together as a whole to create the final product (although it still requires refinement).

I don’t know what the story is, exactly — apart from the next in the series –that’s for my readers to decide. They will tell me if I captured the mood, accurately conveyed the content, and breathed life into my characters.

All I know is that I have spent hundreds of hours reading and analysing the content of Blood Healing that words have lost all their meaning. I found myself stuck in how to describe much of the visual stimuli and consulted a vast array of images, read poetry and books on description.

People say familiarity breeds contempt and that saying applies here. This manuscript feels like an annoying younger sibling (even though I am the youngest in my family). I’ve been head-to-head with it, trying to guide it in the right direction, reprimanding it when it doesn’t listen and sticks its tongue out at me.

But I love this story and I love the characters. I’ve spent the last 2 months huddled up against my laptop and all of this has only deepened my respect for the battle and journey that is novel writing.

At 110,000 words, Blood Healing is my longest piece of work yet.

Howling Dogs & Tapas

I have the most adorable dogs for neighbours (their owners are out for large amounts of the day). While there are two dogs, they get lonely and will howl from time to time. They don’t bark though, so I can deal with it. The sound is adorably cute, and now and again I’ll stick my head over my fence and say hello to them. They stop howling, allow their tongues to flop out of their mouths, and jump up for a pat in which I make cooing sounds while scratching their dusty heads.

In other news, I’m not a big blogger type. I spent all my writing energies on, well, writing my books (duh!). But I do post pictures and quotes on Facebook from time-to-time if you want to be more interactive with me. I’m also on Twitter and always respond to any messages I receive.

So, I’m about half way through my novel and have done a tonne of editing. If my manuscript were Mount Everest and I were a mountain climber, I’d be huddled up against my oxygen tank, clambering for every advancement.

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In other news, I indulged in some time off work this weekend and enjoyed some fragile winter sun at a Cafe/Restaurant called Breakwater.

photo
23 degrees celcius in Perth; absolutely gorgeous.

moetTapas and Moet. Mmmmmm.

Friday I was in burnout mode, hitting my head up against characters that seemed hollow and lifeless. It’s not that my characters are hollow and lifeless, it’s that I’d emptied myself of all creative spark — kind of reminds me of that phenomena when words on your computer screen begin to seem strange.

stickfigure-hmmmcomputer

 

 

Anyway, today I’m mostly working on carving nuances into main characters, and making sure all my plots line up. I need to have this edit done by Sunday! I mean NEED! SUNDAY! That is all.

 

I’ll leave you with a quote from a most talented and heartfelt man:

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
― Douglas AdamsThe Salmon of Doubt

Pressure

Receiving feedback about a novel you’re currently editing can be extremely discouraging. When you have someone purposely read your book to critique its failings (which is an absolute must for any writer looking to improve/publish) it feels like someone dropped a piano on your head. People won’t understand (and sometimes they won’t care) that if they ask you to change one thing about your story, even a small thing, it has a domino effect and you have to change everything across the entire novel. And then you wish you’d caught that inconsistency when you were actually writing the story instead of having to go back through and change the entire thing. All part of the learning process.

This happened with Concealed Power as well. The book took twice as long as the first because I had to go back and re-write entire character’s personalities. With Bear Heart, I didn’t have to re-write much at all. It was really simple (and a relief). All of this, I accept. The idea that I’ll mess up the next book and make life really hard for myself is what drives me to pay attention to this round of feedback. I can avoid my future mistakes by coming face-to-face with them now.

I see this year and next year as being my steepest learning curve, and I always hope that I’ve grasped things well enough that I don’t end up feeling discouraged. I suspect, though, that moments of discouragement just come with the writing process.

Examples of feedback a writer can receive:

‘Make the fight scenes longer.’

‘Add in more character quirks.’

‘Add in this explanation for this character’s behaviour.’

‘That character sounds too evil, make them more philosophically influenced rather than fantastically bad.’

‘Your protagonist needs to react more.’

Regardless of whether these types of criticisms are valid or not, as the author it’s your job to listen to them, and decided whether it’s worth your time and effort to fix them — most of the time it is *groan*.  I’ve had to decide between what’s important to fix, and what I can leave behind in the manuscript.  Sure, I could have a gung-ho attitude and dive into re-writing and fiddling with my manuscript with the enthusiasm of a squirrel on speed, but I think that’s just another way of trying to be perfectionistic.

 

Here’s the facts:

— Editing can really suck.
— Receiving constructive/nonconstructive criticism can suck.
— Realising you have to go back and edit every single sentence of your entire novel is daunting (and sucks).

Writing books well is hard. There’s no question about it. There’s a trick to maintaining momentum in your publishing/writing schedule, and here it is:

KEEP WORKING AT IT!

🙂

Second Novel Fears

There’s an irrational fear that some writers face. The fear that their second book in a series won’t match up to the success of their first one. Right now, I’m going through my manuscript trying to make it perfect and that nagging critical voice is whispering doubts about the book.

‘There’s not enough character development.’

‘It moves too fast.’

‘The plot is unclear.’

‘The characters aren’t consistent.’

I had so much fear with my first book, but I published it anyway. And so far the response has been really good. Much better than I ever expected. But I’ve realised now that this second in the series I’m writing is quite different in terms of my focus on the protagonist, Adenine. It’s more action and less character driven, which ironically is what the reviews on my Amazon page call for. But I think I’ve taken away from the character development in order to write so much action, not on purpose of course but I think the second book needs it.

I do write purely for my readers to enjoy the stories. I write hoping for a consistent 4 out of 5 stars. A consistent 80% positive rate of feedback. Why should I lower my standards to 4 out of 5 stars, instead of say working for 5 out of 5 stars? Because I’m a new author. I always try to make my books as perfect as I can, but if I start aiming for true perfection I just run myself into an avoidance rut and fuss over things not worth fussing over. All of this takes time from writing the subsequent pieces.
So here’s to accepting the best I can do. Here’s to accepting that as a writer, there will be faults in my book that I just can’t avoid. And hopefully, as I develop my skills and work hard, I’ll become the best writer I can be. Whether that’s 3 out of 5 stars, or 5 out of 5 stars. 🙂

Just a Note About the Website

Hello all new visitors.

The site is currently undergoing some changes. The content and menu bars are being changed and altered for more efficient and enjoyable browsing. If you’ve just read Concealed Power, you’ll find the world fantasy map under Maps and Graphics. I’m currently working on updating the map as well.

Thanks for dropping by 🙂

Kylie