The State of My Writing: Editable

sled_231740350Editing, editing, editing. You might not be able to glean this fact from my blog posts, but man I love editing! For me, the last round of editing is like a downhill sled-ride—whereas a novel’s first draft is a Sisyphean trudge—the hauling of an unwieldy and volatile load across a snowy blank screen.

With editing, the hard part is done. (Damn you, creativity!) Now it’s time to pare down words, to search out and eradicate redundancies and extraneous phrases—to burnish each chapter into a lustrous, aerodynamic shape. That’s what I’ve been doing this month with LINE OF DESCENT.

And during this process, I’ve stumbled upon a good trick that’s been helping me immensely. I emailed a Word Doc of my book to my Kindle Fire using the subject line “convert” and listened to it through the Fire’s Text-to-Speech feature. I’ve heard that your eye can’t be trusted to find typos in your own work. I’ve seen this (or not seen it) to be true. But your ear is a lot harder to fool. Lately I’ve been plugging my earbuds into my Kindle Fire and listening for mistakes while doing chores. So how’s that for finding extra time to work on my book? Of course, this trick won’t help you much with punctuation issues, but it will surely help you double-check for tinny or repetitive prose. And if your book sounds good while being read by the Kindle’s robot narrator (and divorced from your own inner voice) then there’s a good chance it will engage and attract readers.

Now a couple more beta-reader and editing comments to gather, and it will be time to get this show on the road. I know the initial launch on Amazon is likely to be underwhelming (possibly downright depressing), but so far I’m really enjoying the ride!

State of My Writing, Spring 2014

It’s time to dust off the portable hard drives and those nearly useless 16MB memory cards. Time to  email attachments to myself. Time to start stashing files in the cloud. It’s back-up time!

As of right now, I’ve finished the 4th (and hopefully final) major redux of TURNING and the 7th (and hopefully final) redux of IDYLL. Whew, what a relief! I started the first version of Idyll in February of 2006! The four main characters and the setting have remained mostly unchanged in eight years. Everything else has changed drastically and often. Right now I want to sit on both stories to plan a potential roll-out in late 2014, early 2015. This is because:

1) I’m skeered.
2) Both books are being reviewed by Beta-Readers
3) I want to absorb as much as I can on the subjects of publishing e-books, marketing e-books, building my platform, etc.
4) It’s a very busy time with my job and attempting to sell our house
5) I’m beta-reading my wife’s new WIP
6) I’m skeered.

And there’s another exciting reason! Only exciting to me probably! I’ve begun humping away on a sequel to Idyll! Three weeks ago, I was one paragraph away from finishing a final revision on a cool short story, when the urge to start on the sequel overtook me. For a long time, I’ve had a rough idea of where I wanted to take the characters in Idyll—their course for a second and third book. But in early May I began to really think about what would happen in Book 3 of the series. I think I came up with a great story—I can see the characters evolving to these great places, and now I can’t wait to write them.

Hopefully Idyll’s first sequel won’t take another eight years to complete. I think I can realistically shoot for eight months. Part of my plan of attack is a tactic I’m calling “gap writing.” I’ve heard in the past that as some writers go through their first draft, they’ll write as fluidly as they can, and leave blanks if they can’t come up with the perfect adjective, or if they don’t want to stop to look up a particular fact. I’m taking that rapid-burst technique a step further: sometimes I won’t even bother to write down proper names. I’m skipping straight to the verbs and their objects. We’ll see, as tactics go, if this is more of a Pickett’s Charge. So far, when I’m on a roll and really enjoying myself, the full sentences seem to flow unbidden from my keyboard. In fact after one particularly fleshed-out, detailed paragraph, I had to stop and remind myself that this is just a first draft, and everything I write could change, so I don’t want to spend too much time on it now. The goal is to end up with a intensely descriptive outline that lays out each chapter, clause-by-clause. Description…Action…Reaction…Description…Metaphor…Dialog…Action… All muscle and bone, but no sinew.

My hope is that I can have Book 2 finished so that it could drop 2-3 months after Idyll is released. That means I could have three novels and one short story on the market by March or April of next year! Of all the self-publishing advice I’ve read, the tip that makes the most sense to me is “Write, write, and write some more. Don’t stop with one book.” The most successful authors have multiple items on their Amazon author pages, so that they can leverage the success of one book to help boost the others.