That’s Three Done

Earlier this week I finished polishing (Vampires) Made in America. It is done. As done as I can get it. As done as I feel it needs to be to submit to agents. I don’t know that I’ll get an agent with it, but I do need the experience of submitting to agents and possibly making some connections. Gotta start somewhere.

(Vampires) Made in America started as a 2011 NaNo novel called American Vampires. That’s right. A little over six years ago, I wrote the first words of this book. It took me six years to call it done. Wild. But not unusual. At least for me. I wrote the first draft of The World (Saving) Series for NaNo 2010; it wasn’t finished until June of 2013 (it’ll never see daylight). I wrote the first draft of A Tale of Two Lady Killers for NaNo 2009 (I’m sensing a pattern here); it wasn’t finished until April of 2014.

I think for me part of the reason it takes me so long to complete a novel-length work is because of my loud brain. I can’t work on just one thing at once. I try to give myself time between first draft and first revision and then between revisions and then between final revision and polish to give the words time to settle. So, I find myself preoccupied with other, shorter projects during these breaks and the novel gets pushed down further and further down the priority list because “it can wait”.

I think the other reason is how overwhelming a task it seems to get a novel to the point of doneness. Thanks to NaNo writing the first draft of a novel is a breeze and also thanks to my experiences in revising, I’ve gotten better at writing first drafts that don’t require as many story overhauls as I used to (this past NaNo being a now rare exception). But still, compared to revising a short story or even a novella/novelette, a novel is a lot of work.

Another reason it’s so easy to push it down on the priority list. Putting off the pain.

I suppose with two more Outskirts novels, The End of the (Werewolf) Curse and To Tell the (Conjurer’s) Truth, waiting for their own rounds of revisions, I should probably not default to that so easily. If I want to show myself to be a worthwhile investment to an agent and/or publisher, it might be in my best interest to accustom myself to the practice of completely finishing a novel in a shorter amount of time, especially since the novels I write aren’t that long to begin with. After all, making a living by doing this is the whole point and improving only helps that.

I’ll start small. Try to get a novel totally done before it’s old enough to go to kindergarten.

It’s good to have goals.

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Writing–July Projects

Rainbow paperIt’s official. I am burned out on revising.

This revision/rewrite of The Timeless Man has been most successful. I think I’ve fixed most if not all of the major story problems that were plaguing it. It’s not nearly as boring now! Everything in it now has a purpose. The only thing left hanging right now is the ending. It needs to be changed, yet be the same, if that makes any sense at all. Don’t worry if it doesn’t. I’m not exactly sure how to work that either.

But since I’ve had my revising, I’m going to take a step back from that and focus some energy elsewhere.

The read of (Vampires) Made in America continues (I got a late start on it last month and I measure out the reading so I fully digest what I’m I’m dealing with). The ideas I had for fixes going into the reading are sort of not going to happen at all. It seems that the first draft was a better than I remembered it being, so far story-wise. There are some changes that need to be made, but they’re not nearly as big as I thought they’d be.

I’ll be honest with you. When I got to the end of the first chapter, the last line made me laugh out loud. Now that doesn’t mean I’m fucking brilliant or anything, but it did signal to me that maybe this story wouldn’t be so bad after all.

To counteract my revising fatigue, I’m going to write something new. Sure that seems counter-intuitive since I’ve already got a huge list of projects that need revising and duh, stupid, why are you adding to it? But I need to flex my first draft muscles more often than just in November. The idea is for a longer short story, possibly novella, something that I’ve been kicking around in my brain for a while. I think it’ll be nice to just take the month and play in that world for a while.

And finally, I’ve decided to journey back into print, at least for a while. I’m going to put together a special print edition of Yearly featuring Gone Missing. I may throw in the first part of Night of the Nothing Man, just to see if I can’t drum up some interest in it. If this project goes well, I might look into giving other projects the same type of treatment, most notably A Tale of Two Lady Killers, since it is a novel. It’s going to have sell a more than a few more copies before I commit to that, though.

I’m really looking forward to shaking things up in July. My brains need the break.

Writing–The Grand Writing To Do List

Rainbow paperI’ve mentioned before that I’m working on clearing off the bulk of my Writing To Do List. I thought that maybe some of you would like to see this mythological creature, as I’m frequently mentioning it, but not very good about getting too specific about all of the projects I have going on.

It’s not in any sort of special order and all of it is writing related even if it’s not actual writing.

  • Revise Hatchets and Hearts
  • Polish Hatchets and Hearts
  • Revise “She’s Not Here Anymore”
  • Polish “She’s Not Here Anymore”
  • Revise The Timeless Man
  • Revise The Rainmakers 1
  • Revise The Rainmakers 2
  • Revise (Vampires) Made in America
  • Write Fairliza
  • Write Parlor Tricks
  • Publish A Tale of Two Lady Killers
  • Publish Spirited in Spite

Hatchets and Hearts is, obviously, the novella I’m currently revising. “She’s Not Here Anymore” is a novella that I revised down to a short story. The Timeless Man, as you should know by now, is the next novella in the Ivy Russell series. The Rainmakers 1 and 2 are the two novellas I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year. (Vampires) Made in America is a Stanley Ivanov novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo a few years ago. Fairliza (which isn’t a title, but the name of the character) is an idea for either a long short story or a short novella that will more than likely be written this summer. Parlor Tricks is an idea for a what will probably be my NaNo project this year (or one of two projects if it looks like it’ll be a novella).

How the To Do List works: Projects that are/will be getting my attention are on the To Do List. I don’t put polishing any project on the To Do List until it’s had at least one round of revisions/rewrites.

That’s the Writing To Do List.

A living thing.

Writing– The (Self-) Publishing Schedule

Rainbow paperAt the beginning of the year, I established a sort of publishing schedule for myself. I knew that I’d be putting out Yearly in February, but I decided that I should set a couple more dates for the year to keep myself motivated and producing with the end game in mind.

After some thought, I settled on June and October (dates not specified, of course), already having some idea of what would be going out when. I thought the time span was reasonable enough for me to finish what I wanted to publish while publishing often enough to attract potential readers while keeping others interested with the new content.

I have a great way of overestimating myself.

The good news is that, provided I can come up with covers, I will be publishing according to my little schedule. The sort-of-bad-but-not-really news is that I’m not publishing what I thought I’d be publishing.

In January, I thought it’s be The Timeless Man and probably Hatchets and Hearts, even though one wasn’t even written at the time. Now, in May it’ll be A Tale of Two Lady Killers and Spirited in Spite, though I haven’t made the final decision on what will be happening when.

Turns out that Hatchets and Hearts and The Timeless Man have ended up being a lot harder than I anticipated.  Surprise, surprise.

This is why I end up working on so many different projects in different phases. I may think I know what I’m doing, but in reality, I’m a moron in need of plans A-Z.

Thank goodness for my need to always be working on something.

Writing–May Projects

pinkflowerThe final polish of A Tale of Two Lady Killers is done. The contest essay is submitted. The slog to get projects completed continues.

Next up will be the final polish of Spirited in Spite.

And then I will be back to revising.

I probably should get back to The Timeless Man, but I haven’t quite worked out everything that needs to be fixed yet, so I don’t want to start it until I know the solutions to all of the problems. It can sit another month or so while I work the last few kinks out in my head.

Instead, I’m going to take another hack (pun intended!) at Hatchets and Hearts and maybe try to get in another round of revisions done on “She’s Not Here Anymore”. Of course, the latter will depend on how well the revisions of the former go. If they turn out to be a big struggle, then I’m not going to add to my pain. I anticipate the revisions on both of these projects, even though they’ve each been revised/rewritten before, to be rough.

But if by some miracle, they both end up being easier than I anticipated, there’s plenty of things left of my To Do List to fill my time.

Writing–Do You Ever Feel Like…?

Rainbow paperDo you ever feel like something you wrote three years ago is better than what you’re writing now?

I don’t mean because it’s been revised within an inch of its life within the those three years and this is still fresh and new and hasn’t felt the repeated sting of the red pen. I mean that overall it seems like the story you wrote three years ago is better than the one you’re writing right now.

Okay, maybe it’s just me, but hear me out anyway just in case it happens to you.

I’m doing the final revisions before the final polish of A Tale of Two Lady Killers. In the course of my work, I’m finding moments of brilliance that I don’t seem to remember reading in anything I’ve written in the past year or two. Certain turns of phrase and word choices and descriptions that are more creative and just plain better than anything I’ve put out lately, characters that seem more well-rounded and real.

Now in theory, a writer should get better the more they write, so it sort of disturbs me that I seem to have regressed, at least in my opinion. It bugs me that I’m not seeing those tiny brilliant flashes in anything I’ve written recently. Shouldn’t I be seeing MORE of those flashes?

This could be completely subjective. I admit that. There could be brilliant flashes that I’m blind to. And I know that some of those brilliant flashes I’m seeing now in this almost-final version of the novel weren’t there in the first or second drafts of this manuscript. It took plenty of work to come up with and insert those brilliant flashes.

So why am I not seeing those brilliant flashes now? Am I being lazy? Am I just calling things “good enough” so I can be done with them? Have I run out of brilliant flashes? Are they a finite thing and I already used up all of mine? Is it all in my head and I’m just being my own worst critic once again?

I don’t know.

Part of me thinks that I’m being overly-critical and probably more than a little paranoid because that is my nature. Part of me thinks, though, that it is possible that I’ve been a little lax in my work lately and it might do me some good to put a little more effort into my stories.

A little more effort certainly won’t hurt anything.

Writing–March Projects

cloverThe main project for March is to finish writing the first draft of The Timeless Man. It’s more than half-way done and boring as hell, but I can fix that later. I just need to get it done. This is a project that I want to have completely done by the end of the year and the way I’m struggling with the first draft, I might already be in trouble.

The other novella that I’m working on, remember it? The one that was so insistent on my brain last month? Well, it’s not as insistent now. I’ll still be working on it throughout the month, but more as a distraction from The Timeless Man, a break from the blahs I’m having about that first draft.

So, The Timeless Man is the biggest priority this month.

However, I’ve been trying to come up with story for a contest open to various genres and essays. I think I’ve actually hit on an essay idea that might work for it and I think I’m going to give it a go and see what I can make of it. I’ve only written one other and it was pretty much garbage, but I’d like give it a go so I can feel like I’m doing something towards this deadline.

Last month I read through A Tale of Two Lady Killers, but didn’t get around to doing any of the little revisions that need to be done. I also realized that if I want to self-publish The World (Saving) Series, as I’ve been thinking about doing, then I’m going to make some changes to the manuscript. Maybe this month I’ll get around to doing those two things.

But like I said, first draft’s first.

Writing–February Projects

purpleflowersHaving done a whole bunch of revisions, both hard and easy, this month I’m looking to write something new.

It’s time to get the new Ivy novella down on paper. That is for sure. I’ve got it all sketched out. Okay, I’ve got it as sketched out as I need it to be. Good enough, time to go.

I also got an idea for another, unrelated novella that has been rather persistent and so I think I’m going to explore it as well. I’ve sketched it a bit. I think I can write it. I think I’m going to.

And finally, I got slapped with a short story idea that won’t take me but a couple of days to write, so I think I’m going to do that as well. I’ve actually had the idea for a while, but I couldn’t figure out just how to work it until recently. Now that I know, I want to get a draft done.

So, I’m looking forward to a lot of writing this month.

But, since Spirited in Spite didn’t take that much work to revise, I started reading A Tale of Two Lady Killers in preparation to revise it to completion, too, and I’m realizing that it’s not going to need a whole lot of work either. So it’s entirely possible that I might do some of the nitpicky revisions on it this month, too.

Short month doesn’t meant I’m short on work.