Writing–Revising Spirited in Spite

Rainbow paperSo as I may have mentioned in my previous projects posts that one of my plans for the year was to revise Spirited in Spite to doneness and that I was going to start this month.

Here’s a little back story on Spirited in case I never mentioned it (which is entirely possible since I don’t talk about my projects with any sort of regularity):

It started out as one of my earliest NaNo losers under the title The Spinning Room.  I can’t remember exactly how the loss took place. I think I ended up not finishing it during the month, but getting it done sometime afterwards. The original idea was for something straight horror, but at some point during the first draft, I realized I couldn’t keep my face straight that long. I think that’s part of what made it so hard to write during NaNo; I was doing it wrong.

When I decided to revise it with a lighter tone, it went a lot easier. I put together a new draft and revised it once more at some point and then left it alone to do other things.

Apparently, I re-read it sometime last year, but I don’t remember doing that.

I started doing the revisions on the second. I was done within a week.  And that was going slow.

I had apparently done more revisions on this manuscript than I remembered doing. I certainly didn’t remember revising it down to novella length, but also didn’t remember revising the story to the point that it was so…finished. The revisions I ended up doing this round were of the nitpicky variety, partly because I was marveling at how little I had to do.

Now, this doesn’t mean I’m done. There are minor things that I thought about changing, but didn’t change because I’m not sure about those changes yet. I’m going to let it all rest for a little while and come back to it again.

But I’m no longer thinking that it’s going to take me a better part of a year to get this manuscript done.

Looks like A Tale of Two Lady Killers is going to get its shot, too.

Writing–January Projects

Sneeuw-Weegje

Finally, we get around to my first projects post of the new year.

I’ve got most of the heavy lifting rewrites done on “She’s Not Here Anymore” and it’s officially a short story now. I’m going to let it rest for now. It could probably use another round of picky revisions, if not two. But not this month. It can wait.

This month I’m going to start on one of my big year goals and start revising Spirited in Spite, which I thought was still a novel-length manuscript, but it looks like the previous revisions I did cut it down to novella-length. Now I get to decide if I want to expand it back to being a novel or just go with novella, which is kind of becoming my thing. And so my big goal takes on a new dimension.

I think I’m also going to start sketching out the next Ivy Russell novella. I’ve already got the idea for it, but it’s gonna need a little work, some fleshing out and outlining. I may even start writing it if I’m feeling good about it. You never know.

I might also start doing some work on the Hatchets and Hearts novella if I’m feeling productive. It needs some hefty revisions and I’d probably be better off getting them out of the way as soon as possible.

I had an easy time of it in December. Time to get back to work.

Writing–Rereading the Written

English: Page of a manuscript written by Penns...

I’ve got several manuscripts that I’ve written that have been hanging out, waiting for me to get back to them. Some of them are just first drafts; others have had one or two rounds of heavy-lifting revision done to them. All of them were put to the side so I could focus on something else.

Since I didn’t have much going this month, I decided to read them all to see what I had and get reacquainted with them.

It was interesting to see where I was as a writer a few years ago. I can pretty much tell what was going on in my life just by reading the manuscript. It’s fascinating. Nobody else would be able to pick anything up, but I guess because I wrote it and lived it, I know exactly where I was.

Looking at the pieces in a more professional, critical light, I’m happy to say that all of them are workable to an extent. I could make them all into something that you wouldn’t gouge your eyes out while reading. Which is reassuring in a sense. There will always be work waiting for me because I’ve got four manuscripts in various states just waiting to be finished.

And it won’t be a waste to work on them since there’s something worth working on there.

I admit to liking some more than others. Spirited in Spite and A Tale of Two Lady Killers have gone through a couple of heavy-lifting revisions and their stories are pretty good. Fun, quick little things that won’t require too much more lifting to finish.

The untitled Ivy novel should probably be revised down to a novella because I padded that thing pretty hard. The other POVs can go (though I might save Leo’s and rewrite it as a short story). Sticking to solely Ivy and shortening it up will do the story wonders. I might also end up changing the location. We’ll see.

American Vampires, I don’t care for. It’s only a first draft, a NaNoWriMo draft at that, so it needs A LOT of work. And I know what I was trying to do with the original attempt at a story, but I missed the mark. Of all the pieces, I like this one least and it will take the most work. Somehow, though, I think it might be worth the effort. Eventually. I’m in no rush to get back to it.

When I’m done with The World (Saving) Series, it looks like I’m all set for the next revision project. I’ve got plenty to choose from.

Writing–When the Brain Has Other Plans

I have trouble with my brain sometimes.

Here’s an example:

Last month, I got pretty tired of rewriting Spirited In Spite. It turned into quite the slog that I couldn’t wait to get through. And while I was doing this slog, all I was thinking about was how much I wanted to work on my short stories. In fact, towards the end of the rewrite and the end of the month, I did start working on my short stories as a kind of reward for getting through the rewrites.

It was easy to come to the conclusion that I was going to spend February working on my short stories.

About a week and a half into the month, I was tired of looking at these short stories (to my credit, I had three of them ready to submit and one of those I DID submit) and wanted to work on something else.

For some reason, that happens. My brain acts like a spoiled child. It gets what it wants, plays with it a minute, and then immediately wants to play with something else. It’s ridiculous and frustrating and clashes with my stubborn self and need to adhere to the goals set for me.

This time, though, I decided to compromise. After submitting one of the short stories, I took a break from them. Instead, I took the weekend and read one of my novel manuscripts (A Tale of Two Lady Killers), making some notes on it. On Monday, I went back to the short stories. The break helped me avoid the feeling of slogging. It helped me to avoid resenting the goals I’d set for myself and in the long run, accomplish them.

I have to remember that my pig-headedness is an asset only when I use it correctly. I also have to remember to be flexible with my goals. Sometimes my spoiled brat brain has a good point and maybe a day or two spent indulging it is for the best.

It’s more cooperative when I compromise.

Writing–February Projects

February is being dedicated to the short story now that I’m finished with the initial (and crappy) rewrites of Spirited in Spite. I’ve got this goal of getting 50 rejections this year (more on that next week) and it’s really spurned my creativity in regards to my short stories.

So here’s my short story To Do List this month:

-Revise/Polish “At 3:36” (I’ve already done initial edits in changing it from 3rd to 1st person)

-Revise/Polish “An Active Sleeper” (I think I’ve figured out how to fix this story)

-Revise/Polish “Everybody’s Time” (I wrote it at the end of last month)

-Review “Powerless” and revise/polish if necessary (It’s my first rejection of the year)

-Write “Notorious” (about the survivor of a serial killer)

-Write “Hear It?” (about a person suffering from auditory hallucinations; title may change)

-Submit any stories that are ready.

I’ve got a couple of other stories (“Anniversaries” and an untitled one) that I could revise if I get the time, but I’ve left them off the list for now simply because I’m not sure what to do to them yet. The stories need tweaking to make them work, but I’m not sure what the tweaks should be. I’m sure it’ll come to me.

Ideally, at the end of the month I’ll have at least four stories that can (and hopefully will be) submitted.

Gotta keep producing and submitting if I want those 50 rejections.

Writing–Revising Spirited In Spite

My goal this month was to revise Spirited In Spite and submit it to a novel contest. I knew that I had a lot of obstacles to overcome in the goal. I started doing the work in December during the holidays and nothing kills my productivity like running the Holiday Gauntlet. I knew I was going to Chicago for a birthday weekend at Cubs Con, which meant getting any work done would be pretty special. I saw those challenges and was willing to face them head on in the name of getting this manuscript entered into the contest.

However, what I didn’t count on was my bad memory and ability to underestimate things.

See, I had notes written up for the revisions/rewrites of Spirited In Spite. It’s how I do my manuscript revisions. I read through it and make notes. Looking at the notes, I thought I had more to work with than what was actually there. In other words, there was a lot more rewriting than revision required. Shortly before I left for Chicago, I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to make the deadline. There was just too much work to be done and not enough time to do it, particularly to the satisfaction of entering it into a contest.

I’m continuing with the rewrites, of course, and I’m hoping to finish them this month. I shouldn’t have any more interruptions for the rest of the month and if I can write 60,000 words in 3 weeks, I shouldn’t have any trouble finishing this rewrite before the 31st. I do have notes, after all.

In a sense, I’m really writing a new first draft when doing these rewrites because so much of the manuscript is being rewritten. In fact, I’d say at least 75 to 80% . And when it comes to writing a first draft, I just write as fast as I can and don’t look back.

I’m disappointed that I didn’t realize sooner that revising this manuscript for a contest would be a lost cause. A Tale of Two Lady Killers was probably in better shape to be done and I might have actually made the deadline with something worth submitting. But these are the kinds of mistakes that I tend to make. I get an idea in my head, think I know what I’m doing, and then too late realize that I’m clueless or that I missed a much better option due to tunnel vision. It’s something I really do need to work on.

But, at least at the end of this whole mess I’ll be one more step closer to having a legitimate finished manuscript on my hands to do with as I will.

There’s always another contest.

Writing–January Projects

January is going to be one busy, crazy month.

I’m rewriting/revising Spirited in Spite for a contest. The deadline is February 5th, but I’m going to try to have the novel done by January 30th. Yeah, considering most of the book has to be rewritten, there is no way this can end well. If I can get it in somewhat readable shape, I’ll be happy.

The contest is in three stages: pitch, excerpt, novel. I will declare this contest a success if I can get past the pitch stage.

Really, since there’s no entry fee, there’s nothing I’ve got to lose by doing this. The hard deadline, the goal, will help keep me focused. I’ve rewritten/revised one other novel, but I didn’t complete it in the sense that I would feel comfortable with sending it. I can’t imagine I can get this book perfect in about 30 days (okay, to be fair it’s more like 45 days since I actually started working on it in December), but what I will end up with when I submit my entry is going to be better and closer to finished than what I’ve got right now. There’s no reason for me to pass up the opportunity to really work on my novel revising skills in a specific time frame and with a definite goal.

There will be stress and frustration. Let’s just hope that it’s not so severe I end up pulling out my hair.

I’ve also got a few short stories that need to be finished from December. “Another Deadly Weapon” is done and ready to go. “How the Night Haunts” will be up on the blog shortly. The rewrites on “At 3:36” ended up separating the piece into two different stories, “At 3:36” and “Powerless”. “At 3:36” needs more work, but “Powerless” just needs some polishing up, I think. “Anniversaries” and the untitled short story need more work, too.

Aside from “Powerless”, every other story is going to wait in favor of the novel revisions. With “Powerless” done, I’ll have four stories (along with “Soul Sister”, “Playing Chicken” (the anthology it was going to be in was canceled), and “Another Deadly Weapon”) to shop around, which I plan to do in earnest. My goal is to submit a lot more short stories this year.

Let’s see how this all works out with my birthday and me being in Chicago for four days. Let’s just see.