Authors for Indies

Tomorrow is Authors for Indies at your local independent bookstore. Unfortunately the two independent bookstores within an hour’s drive of me are not participating, one having burned down (the loss of Hooked on Books is huge for Penticton and for me personally), the other is involved in another project.

Independent bookstores support readers, authors and the whole community. Now go out and support them–tomorrow and every book purchasing day.

Life interferes with writing

Another week, another blog post on my writing process.

There are always up days and down days and inbetween days, so they say. This week, as far as writing goes, has included not just one down day but a whole week of them. No writing. None. Nada…. partly because of the death of a friend and the days before leading up to that time, partly because of rehearsals and dress rehearsals for our upcoming concert of Annelies, and partly because I am not sure that the behaviour of one of my characters matches the motivation.

As for writing, I know this up-and-down-ness can be part of the process. There are invariably doubts and interference…but really? This many?

Today the library for some unknown reason has spat out eight previously on hold books when I did not request them. Funnily, three relate to other manuscripts I have in mind. Is this a sign?

Boring?

Yup. This blog is boring. It is about one writer’s process. And most of what a writer does is edit and re-edit which to a reader must be boring.

Editing even for the writer can become boring too sometimes.

But there is an especially exciting thing about editing for me. That’s watching the characters grow and deepen. Does that sound odd? Not for me. With every round of editing I find out something new about a character. S/he tells me something more about themselves. The difficulty is that that change probably affects actions and, of course, reactions of other characters. And so the editing process goes on.

Could I be more organized and draft in detail all of a person’s characteristics at the beginning before starting to write? Yes and I do try. But there is always more to reveal. And there is a seduction in that part of the process.

Does this go on forever? I wonder.

Or is this just a good way to procrastinate re trying to get something published. I wonder about that too.

April 7 and another week

Another week and I have both finished editing my manuscript and looked for possible publishers as I promised in my last blog. Except I realize that the quality of editing in the second half was not as good as in the first. Editing is never finished.

Therefore my goal for this week? Go over the second half, probably from each of the three narrators’ points of views plus narrow down my list of publishers and put them in preferred order.

Doable? Possibly, if the sun does not shine beneath the clouds and the busyness of other peoples lives does not interfere.

To What End?

Another Friday, another blog post. To what end?

I’m also saying to what end? about writing at the moment. On the one hand, I love it, the challenge, the creativity and, of course, the playing with words. On the other, while I write and write, I only very occasionally send a manuscript to a publisher. At the same I say unless I get published I will stop this nonsense since I have many many other things I could and would like to do. There’s a problem with that scenario.

So my process for next week will be finishing up this round of editing, then looking up publishers for this and various other manuscripts I have in my virtual bottom drawer. Good luck to me.

Another Friday

The week has flown by and what have I done?

At least I can say that every day I worked on my manuscript–two hours at least. That doesn’t sound like much but editing, checking word for word, wandering around the house reading out loud, stopping and pencil circling where my tongue gets tied, takes effort. In fact it takes a lot of focussed effort. I do a several chapters a day. Then I go to the computer, reread the edited chapter(s) from the day before and enter new changes from the present day, meanwhile still re-reading and re-editing, continuing to look up in the thesaurus for hopefully better words.

What I did differently this week was not how I edit,  however, but how my editing fits into my day. With a great deal of discipline I did not go on the internet/email until late afternoon. I have found (no news to most) that answering emails sends a million distractions. By late in the day my tired fingers find the delete button more quickly and I go madly off in fewer directions, especially if supper is on the stove. Not burning it is vastly more important than the latest video on sink holes.

Speaking of sink holes, that’s what emails can be–sinkholes in creative life.

Reading from a hard copy II

Yes, I am still reading from the hard copy of my manuscript and that will be for quite some time. My process is to speak the words and sentences to myself out loud. At the slightest hesitation I reread, checking what it was that made the lines not flow well.

After a week of this I am still on the first few chapters. (It does not help that it is tax time.)

Why is editing so much more thorough on paper as compared to on the computer? My first page which I had gone over many times previously now has scratched out words, arrows with additions porcupining in all directions, a paragraph circled and put in a different place, suggestions starred in the margin for later inclusion and the inevitable typos. So why did I not see them before?

I believe it is because the computer gives a gloss of perfection, an impression of slickness that could not possibly need changes.

But of course changes are needed. So I carry on.

Reading from a hard copy

Last week I was editing on my computer that part of my manuscript which was from the point of view of Bronwyn. There were major revisions. Wednesday of this week I completed that process, having reread each of the majorly revised chapters several times.

So what next? Do I go back to the other character again? Do I read both together? I decided on the latter but with a difference. I would read from a hard copy, something I do several times over the course of revision.

I find I read completely differently on paper than on a computer screen. I notice more. Perhaps I notice more because the written words on a paper page physically look  different to me. I also hold the pages in my hands, scribble deletions and additions, even flip to another part when a sudden insight suggests something “brilliant”.

Surely I could do that on the computer. Yes and I do. But not as easily and not as thoroughly. Whereas the computer zones me out and before I know it I am pages beyond where I stopped working carefully, reading on paper keeps me more grounded to the copy, so that I analyze line by line.

So far I am only several pages in and many scribbles later. It will take a while, but will be worth it. I hope.

Under Reconstruction

It’s Friday, yet again, despite my computer telling me it’s Saturday and I nearly forgot this blog commitment given my busyness.

Editing has been going well if by well means pulling apart chapters, throwing out scenes, giving a minor character a new job with all that implies, and generally inhabiting the dictionary and thesaurus. Half way through the week I began to think I was getting nowhere. But today was productive, resulting in scenes and ideas that make better sense and characters that live with greater fullness. At least that is my hope.

Next week will mean undoubtedly more of the same. But that’s the editing process and, whether it sounds like it or not, for me it is fun.

Substantive Changes

I don’t know how long I will be able too sustain my plan of writing every week something about what my process has been, but this week is not a problem.

I am happily back to writing, but unhappily or happily depending on how you look at it, I am into substantive changes. Not huge restructuring I hope. But definitely tightening one particular character.

If you remember, this manuscript is from two points of view and I did a fairly comprehensive edit of one. This week I have started the second character. As I get half way through I see that her issues must be resolved differently and with more action.  I rewrote one chapter this morning. That feels decent. But the next chapter I worked on, the changes were not enough and not good enough.

I will reread from the beginning cursorily to summarize each chapter and outline where this character should be at each stage. It will take time. It will be a slog but worth it.

I wish myself luck.

Until next week…