Imaginarium Convention 2016

Imaginarium Convention in Louisville has been my favorite event of the year since it began three years ago, and every year it gets better! It’s the best-run, most organized, yet most relaxed, friendly, and welcoming writer’s convention I’ve ever attended, and on top of that, it’s fun and accessible to not-just-writers, too, since it offers gaming, a film festival, live entertainment, and a free vendor hall in addition to its excellent array of panels and workshops on everything from poetry to documentary film writing to speculative fiction to music. I literally can’t say enough good things about Imaginarium. It’s not just the folks who run it (who are awesome), but the whole atmosphere that makes it magic. Everyone involved, from the staff to the panelists to the attendees, is generous with their time, knowledge, and attentiveness. Truly a special thing in today’s world.

Marian Allen's award

Marian Allen, with Kerosene Kerry’s award

This year was also special because Per Bastet Publishing, which I am now marketing director for and which is one of the event’s sponsors, came away with two awards! One went to Marian Allen (who happens to be my mother) for doing a fabulous job promoting the event. The second, the Sizemore Award for small press excellence, went to the house.

T. Harris with Sizemore Award

T. Lee Harris with Per Bastet’s Sizemore Award!

Coming away from this year’s Imaginarium, I have so many happy takeaways. There’s the momentum of inspiration and ideas from all the great discussions and conversations. There’s the hilarity of cutting up with other writers (especially when we’re supposed to be acting all professional). There’s the happiness of catching up with people I haven’t seen since last year and the happiness of meeting new people I look forward to catching up with next time. There’s the excitement of the great pitches the press got from authors who want to work with us. And great-sounding projects authors might send my way for editing (shout out to Jack Wallen, the best client evarrrrr! for all the recommendations!) I keep asking if we can have more than one of these things a year, but for some reason the staff who work their butts off to make the weekend run smoothly for the rest of us keep looking at me like I’ve grown wings out of my ears when I say it…… ūüėČ

Per Bastet with Jason Sizemore

Per Bastet with Jason Sizemore, award namesake and super-nice guy! Third day of the convention = complete exhaustion, but we’re happy on the inside, I assure you!

Adulting as a Writer, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Chaos

Most people I know, particularly most writers I know, don’t enjoy adulting. I hated adulting so much I told myself I was happy with part-time service industry jobs for 10 years before I finally went to college. At the time, I thought I was going back to college so that I could get on with conforming to adulthood. By the time I graduated last summer at the age of 32, I’d realized, thanks to friends and most of all professors, that being a responsible adult does not mean a soul-crushing 9-5 job, and that my skills as a person are, actually, valuable in the “real world,” no matter what anyone outside my fields of expertise might tell me to the contrary. It has been an inspiring and revealing year for me as a young-30’s writer.

I got a degree in anthropology because I wanted to do archaeology. I got a job with a local archaeology firm before I graduated. I still work for that firm, and people still tell me there are no jobs in archaeology. When people ask if it’s full time and I say, “Not at the moment,” they often look smug, and I look smug right back, because here’s the thing: I never wanted to devote all my time and energy to one thing. The best way for me to go from loving something to being soul-crushingly bored by it is to do it all the time. Granted, archaeology has enough variety in itself that 40 hour weeks would definitely not be a problem. But I get to work in my chosen field with people I get along with, getting exercise and spending time in nature frequently as part of my job. My favorite pastime as a child was playing in dirt and finding stuff to put in my “museum” (i.e. playhouse).

The rest of my work week consists of researching and writing articles for the history website Clio, and doing freelance editing for other writers. Which makes for a nice triad of activities to keep me (1) paid and (2) interested in everything I’m doing. Physical work and research/writing for reports at Corn Island Archaeology, historic research and article writing for the Clio, and reading fiction and working through edits for my own business…it’s a good mix for me. It keeps me a little busier than I’d ever intended to be, and I work more than 40 hours a week, but I enjoy it all and I make a living! I get paid to do things I grew up doing for fun! What better way to adult??? Funny thing is, I still didn’t think of myself as a successful adult until my mother pointed this perspective out to me. (This is one of many reasons I am lucky my mom is also a writer and is awesome.)

Perhaps because I’ve learned to live in chaos and a perpetual state of having something I should be working on, I’ve rePerBastet_tallcatcently added to my agenda the role of Marketing Director for Per Bastet Publications, the house through which my own novel, The Life and Death (but mostly the death) of Erica Flynn, is now published. Strangely, taking on more in this case has made me feel more driven to work on my own fiction, something I’ve let slide far too much this year. The more I think of what the press offers (so far, a number of excellent speculative fiction novels and collections of short stories!) the more I find myself wanting to write more stuff, wanting to actively work to share more of the ideas that bounce around in my head all the time with readers.

So, you might be wondering, what am I writing these days? I’ve got two projects in the fire at the moment, both of which I’m actively working on (most days), as my schedule allows. 1. A sequel to Erica Flynn, which I have around 20,000 words on and no title for yet. 2. A series of interconnected steampunk/cyberpunk short stories featuring Penelope and Puddingfoot in post-apocalyptic (no zombies) adventures across America (the first of which was published in the Circuits & Steam anthology). I’m working on the second story now, with a four-story plot arc lined up.

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Author Interview: Jack Wallen’s Suicide Station Kindle Scout Campaign

Would you like to experience the godlike powers of a publisher, to choose whether to make an author’s heart sing or crush an author’s hopes and dreams? Well, Amazon’s Kindle Scout publishing lets you, the reader, do just that! My client and fellow author of genre-bending fiction, Jack Wallen, has submitted his novel Suicide Station to Kindle Scout, and you have until April 7th (if my math is correct) to read the preview excerpt and nominate the book, if you so choose, to be published. Oh, and nominators get a free e-copy if it goes to publication! “What kind of book is Suicide Station?” I hear you ask. Well, I’ve read it (and edited it) and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I can promise you it’s not quite your average romance! Here’s the blurb:

PROJECT_COVER_IMAGE_1._SX800_A romance with a twist of Grim Reaper.
The world of stand up comedy was too much for Foster Donovan. Leaving a note behind for his wife, he wrapped a noose around his neck, and changed his life by embracing death.Turns out, the after life was nothing like he‚Äôd expected. Those who‚Äôve taken their own lives find themselves temporary residents of Suicide Station, where they receive counseling, friendship, and (for Foster) the prospect of love. Suicide Station is a paranormal romance with a twist even the Grim Reaper wouldn‚Äôt see coming.”
And now, without further ado, I give you an interview with the author himself, Jack Wallen!

 

SM: Suicide Station is pretty different than your other work. What sparked the idea for this book?

JW: Believe it or not, it was a nightmare that sparked the idea. I dreamed that I‚Äôd died and, in the dying, realized the worst part about it was that I‚Äôd never get to spend another second with my lovely wife. That led me to wonder what happens to love when we pass on. Not knowing if there is an ‚Äúafterlife‚ÄĚ or not, I decided to answer all the questions the nightmare brought up. There‚Äôs no better way for a writer to answer the big questions than to write about it. In the end, I realized that death was not the end of love.

SM: You’re a very versatile writer, with quite a few genres/subgenres under your belt. Was there anything about writing this book, branching out into paranormal romance, that was challenging for you? Or was the story just “there” and the genre was secondary?

JW: To me, genre is always secondary to telling a good story. If you consider reality, you’ll find the horrific in romance and romance in the horrific. I’ve always found books that set aside the multi-dimensionality of reality to be rather 2 dimensional. With regards to romance, it’s not all about steaming passion, abs, long legs, glistening skin, and the soft moans of seduction.

Pant, pant.

If we‚Äôre going to escape, let‚Äôs really escape from reality and twist the narrative to better match the landscape of our dreams…not our wishes. Dreams can be gritty, dirty, even ugly. That‚Äôs life.

To answer the other part of this question…this story really wrote itself. I think the imagery that so quickly developed (as I wrote) helped this story to flow out of me with incredible ease.

SM: Do you think you’ll write a sequel, or other books set in Suicide Station?

JW: Initially this was going to be a one-off. But shortly after I dove into that other-worldly realm of the Suicide Station, I knew this had to continue. This book barely scratches the surface of possibility for what I’ve created and I’ve no intention of letting it die. I thoroughly enjoyed creating this world as well as the characters within. I want to explore and develop the relationship between Foster and Candy and (especially) visit some of the other Stations.

SM: How did you go about setting up the world and the rules and workings of the afterlife?

JW: One of the best parts about being a writer of fiction is that we can toss aside the constructs of reality and forge our own worlds. Before going into this, I knew one thing and one thing only ‚Äď that Foster Donovan would have to go through counseling in order to move on to his ‚ÄúForever Station‚ÄĚ. That was the original intent. I had no idea this would turn into a love story. The second I started writing this book, in my mind it quickly evolved into a sort of Tim Burton-esque world where anything was possible. So…I allowed anything to be possible.

I’ve always found it unfair that we writers expect readers to suspend their disbelief, when often we’re hesitant to do the same while writing. I pretty much suspended every ounce of disbelief I had for this one.

SM: As a book set in a sort of purgatory for suicide victims, this could have been a very depressing read, yet it’s actually very hopeful, sweet, and funny. How did you maintain the balance between tastefully addressing depression and suicide and keeping the book upbeat and romantic?

JW: Confession time. I’m a helpless romantic at heart. I truly believe in the human heart and the power of connection.

Suicide has such a stigma attached to it. For some, the challenges of existing are simply too much to bear. There‚Äôs always help to be had; and I highly recommend anyone flirting with suicidal thoughts to reach out for help. But being that helpless romantic, what I really wanted to address was that the power of love reaches beyond the veil of death. When we pass, people will remember us fondly; they‚Äôll tell stories about us, smile and weep for the loss. To me, that is the afterlife…those memories. There‚Äôs a sweetness in that. I can pass from this mortal coil knowing my wife and my friends will smile when they think of me, that I will continue to bring them some form of joy.

So to me, it wasn’t so much about the act of ending one’s life, but of moving beyond that and dealing with whatever might come next. And underneath it all, it’s about knowing your own truth and that things can always work out.

SM: What was the most fun about writing this book?

JW: The interplay between Foster and Candy was so much fun. Considering what I usually write, I don‚Äôt often get the chance to make with the flirtations. This is one of the reasons why I also enjoy writing my steampunk series…because underlying all that heady stuff, there‚Äôs a sweetness to power it along.

Also, in this book, I found David David to be so much fun to play with. Not being a stoner, it was pleasure to dive into that skin and see how far I could take it.

SM: What’s next for Suicide Station?

JW: I have entered the book into the Kindle Scout program. Kindle Scout is a new program, started by Amazon, that puts the weight of Amazon promotions behind those books they’ve accepted for publication. What this means is that readers can go visit the Suicide Station campaign page, read the sample, and (if they think the book is worthy) nominate the book. Amazon takes into consideration how many nominations a book gets, how much traffic is directed to the book campaign, as well as the quality of the book and the ability of the author to promote the book.

Should Suicide Station win a contract, everyone that nominated the book will get a free ebook copy! Win-win!

SM: How can we find out more?

JW: I’ll be releasing blogs and videos so you can keep up with the progress of my Suicide Station campaign. Find out more on my website.

 

Now, go forth and READ!

Imaginarium 2015

Last weekend, I attended Louisville’s second annual Imaginarium Convention for creative writers (and readers). I went last year, too, and have had a blast both times. Great programming, great networking, and great company. Plus, it’s held in the same hotel where the long-gone Rivercon Science Fiction Convention used to be held, which means it brings back great memories for me of attending my very first convention with my mom, 23 years ago. I’ve decided that I need a reversible hat to wear next year, with editor on one side and writer on the other, so people will know from which point of view I’m speaking.

This year, I was on 5 panels: one about the role of an editor; one about the writer-editor relationship (and how the editor is, in fact, your friend, even if they put enough red on your manuscript that it would never make it past Hollywood censorship); one about choosing and pulling off either a lone hero tale or a heroic group story (which, ironically, had neither a lone hero for a speaker nor a heroic group of speakers, but yet a third narrative choice: a dynamic duo of speakers); a panel about steampunk (which was lots of fun, and in which we discussed various other ‘punks, too, such as deiselpunk, clockpunk, etc.); and a panel about plotting, and how different writers do it (or don’t). So now you know the kinds of things writers sit around and talk about in secret.

I also attended a couple of panels as an audience member – one about balancing a day job and a writing schedule (because it ain’t easy getting back into a routine after four years away from creative writing), one about writing non-human characters (because the sequel to Erica Flynn includes some), and one about writing the zombie apocalypse (because two of my editing clients do). There were a bunch more I *wanted* to attend, but they were at the same times as the panels I was speaking on. These included, but weren’t limited to, panels on historical writing, unconventional fantasy, and comic books. As you can see, there’s a pretty good variety of topics at Imaginarium, which is one of the reasons I love it! Plus, they had a dragon this year. I mean, how can I not love it?

If I could change one thing about Imaginarium, it would be to add a tea/coffee room for the convention, so there would be a hangout spot to just shoot the shit with other writers. Because writers, myself included, love nothing better than to shoot the shit over caffeinated beverages!

IMG_3886

Mom, the dragon, and me

Existential Terror and Self-Editing

Rewrites.¬† Yeah, I know I said Wednesdays were going to be about marketing, and lately¬†they keep not being, but the first step to marketing something is to have something that agents and publishers will want to represent.¬† So…rewrites.

It’s like pulling out your own¬†teeth – it’s painful, frustrating, and messy, you’re not sure if it’s really a good idea, and it seems like the process will never end.¬† Unlike pulling out your own teeth, though,¬†rewriting generally¬†produces good results.

It’s interesting to examine¬†the evolution of¬†a story after you’ve had some time away from it to gain perspective.¬† Sometimes it’s funny to see how things ended up coming together, sometimes it’s frustrating that you ended up working in the wrong direction for a while and now you have to correct your mistake.¬† I try to think of rewrites the way I think of personal regrets – the things I like about who I am now would not exist if I hadn’t had the experiences I’ve had or made the mistakes I’ve made…nor would my book have come to this point of potential if I hadn’t gone down a few wrong turns here and there with it, finding a few surprise solutions¬†along the way.

I don’t think there are many writers who don’t have a pang or two when they realize drastic changes are needed to a manuscript they’re mostly very happy with.¬† It’s hard to really believe that something you’re mostly very happy with could need so much work.¬† For me, it’s initially disheartening, then I’m irritated with myself for not writing it “right” in the first place, and then there’s a phase of infantile whining about not wanting to do the hard work of fixing it.¬† I suppose it’s a sort of grieving process for the words that will be lost in the process.¬† After all, we work hard to put those words down in the first place, and hone them to some semblance of perfection in the next few drafts, and yanking them apart feels like letting chaos spill into our carefully crafted¬†manuscript and risking complete destruction of the story.¬† Of course we’re resistant to major changes to our novels!¬† All these delicate threads woven together, and SNIP, and now they’re all loose, and what if they never connect right again????!¬† Existential terror!

So how do you stop freaking out and rewrite with gusto and unabashed ruthlessness toward your own words?  First, you have to have three things in place beforehand:

  1. Separate copies of every draft of your book.¬† You do NOT want to alter your previous documents for a new major rewrite.¬† You’ll cut stuff and then realize you need it, make changes and then realize you need to refer to information that’s no longer there, and generally confuse yourself.¬† Also, you won’t be able to go back to the previous version and start over¬†if your rewrites go terribly awry, which can happen.¬† Having the old draft is both a comfort and a practicality.
  2. A notebook and various ways of color coding stuff.  Trust me.  Or, if you work at the computer exclusively, a file for notes to yourself in a program with highlighting and text color capabilities.
  3. Coffee.

The point at which I shift from existential terror to excitement about rewrites is when I can really see how the¬†story can be better.¬† I don’t have to have all the answers, just a clear view of what’s holding it back and some ideas about how to help it shine.¬† I think it’s vital, too, going into big changes, to have a clear sense of what you want the book to be, especially what you originally wanted, above all, for this book, right from the beginning, that made you want to write it.¬† In fact, I even wrote myself a note before I started the second draft of The Life and Death (But Mostly the Death) of Erica Flynn, reminding myself what the heart and soul of the book was to me.¬† Many things have changed about the book…characters have come, gone, changed, etc.¬† Events have been cut, added, altered, moved around.¬† Tone has been tweaked.¬† Setting and concept have shifted or explained differently.¬† But the story is still what I wanted it to be all along – a crazy adventure with an un-self-pitying and funny protagonist determined to come back from the dead.

And it helps to see that, and know that no matter whether I cut or condense or reorganize, I can still keep the heart of the book in place, and that anything I change is just freeing the book up to be closer and closer to its full potential.  That is when I start to be excited about rewrites.

Oh, and I wrote this entry a while back about staying organized and maintaining structure during major rewrites.  This method has helped me more than I can express in words.

A History of Writing, Part II

Last fall, I wrote a post about the beginnings of my writing life, https://saradeurell.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/a-history-of-writing/, in which I said that someday I’d write a Part II about my adolescent writing projects.¬† So here it is.

I finished a 100-page book when I was about ten (it was a pretty trite fantasy about a unicorn slaying a dragon, and the only good thing to come out of it was a weasel of a character who played both sides¬†against one another through the¬†whole story).¬† Wrote a¬†badly-researched ghost novel¬†of about 120 pages, finishing when I was 12.¬† Then I went through a phase of writing completely ridiculous horror stories (probably because that’s what I was reading).

And then, at¬†14,¬†I decided I wanted to be A Very Serious Writer.¬† I wanted to write sweeping, epic, heartbreaking novels that teachers would someday force their high school students to read.¬† So I started planning and building a world for the most complicated fantasy novel ever conceived of in the history of mankind.¬† (Incidentally, I tried to write that same novel again during NaNoWriMo last year, and it’s still too complicated for me to get my head around.)¬† I was 17 when I admitted to myself that I just wasn’t ready to write anything that BIG and decided to try my hand at a literary novel with only a few major characters instead.

My main hangups as a teenage writer were that (a) I spent too long trying to write a perfect first draft and skewed the focus of the plot as a result and (b) I took everything far too seriously.¬† I didn’t want to be funny, and I didn’t want to be fun.¬† I wanted to be profound – which is a problem if you’re only 17 and don’t have enough life experience to be profound, and also usually makes your writing (or at least your narrator) sound pretentious, which is, ironically, one of my own pet peeves with what I read.

I finished the rough draft after a grueling 4-year wrestling match against a main character who dragged his heels every step of the way, reread it, and realized with horror that “flawless” was exactly what my book wasn’t.¬† I wrote exclusively poetry and short stories for years afterward.

It wasn’t until I started working on The Life & Death (But Mostly the Death) of Erica Flynn that I hit my stride and my modus operandi as a writer.¬† Everything clicked with the writing of that book.¬† Self-discipline, setting goals for myself and surpassing them, knocking out a draft in a reasonable amount of time, taking time to get perspective between rewrites, and rewriting ruthlessly…all that came with the process of writing Erica Flynn.

The moral of the post, I guess, is that writing is something you can really only learn by doing it.¬† And you aren’t wasting time by making mistakes, even if an entire manuscript is just one big tangle of mistakes.¬† Like anything in life, it’s only a waste if you don’t learn from it, if you ignore the lessons available to you within an experience, if you keep repeating the same mistakes over and over.¬† Keep trying new things.¬† Keep experimenting.¬† Try new methods.¬† Branch out.¬† Keep trying.

And don’t take yourself or your writing so seriously that it isn’t any FUN!¬† It’s a rare reader that dislikes fun, but there are plenty of readers looking for it.

The Grindstone

Marketing.¬† Bleh.¬† I’m so sick of doing it right now that I really really thought about skipping my post about it for today, or cheating and posting about something more fun.

As a compromise, this is a post sort of about marketing and sort of about rewriting.¬† In the past few weeks, I’ve started to realize that the opening of the novel I’ve been sending out is really not the best representation of the style, tone, type of story, or flavor of the book, and that it also puts forth most of the narrator’s bad side right off the bat, without giving a reader much to grab onto and like about her.¬† I’d never take away her flaws – they’re a good chunk of what drives her throughout the storyline, and aren’t necessarily flaws except when she lets them get out of hand.

Why didn’t I realize this before?¬† Well, I sort of did, but I wasn’t sure how big a problem it was.¬† As the rejection letters have come rolling in, I’ve started to think, Maybe it’s a Big Problem.¬† I’ve still got a sample out to an agent, so I won’t be impulsively rewriting anything until I hear back about that, but if I get a “no” from him, I think it’s time to sit down and look at how to get the most appropriate, enticing start to this book at the start of the book.

Currently, it’s chronological – it starts with the narrator’s death scene.¬† Now, I’m thinking I should start it after she’s already dead, raise questions about how she ended up that way and so forth as part of the hook, and catch the reader up as the plot moves along.¬† The good news is, I’ll probably be able to keep the material, just reorganized, and any dead weight (no pun intended) will be easily shed in the process (since I always felt like the first part of the book was a little more bloated than I wanted it to be, and yet the pacing in the first five chapters has always felt like a whirlwind).

So there.¬† The moral of this post is:¬† Be brutally honest with yourself about the first few chapters of your book.¬† Read it as if you don’t know what comes next.¬† And don’t judge it on whether or not you would buy it.¬† Judge it on whether or not you would sell it to make your living, based on the first five pages or so, when you have five hundred other queries to get through this week.¬† Because that’s the kind of person you have to impress.

The Little Rough Draft That Could

This week, I’ve finally buckled down and started serious work on rewriting the rough draft I finished in November.¬† In January, I reread it (the first time I’ve looked it over since I wrote it) and made about ten pages (front and back) of notes – too much exposition here, need clarification there, move this scene to here, more backstory for this person, cut that character out, etc.¬† Then I sidled uncomfortably away from it to avoid the part where you clutch your head in your hands and wonder how the hell you’re going to make it all work.

This week, I surprised my rough draft by confronting it outright.¬† It wasn’t expecting that, so my frontal assault went well.¬† We were honest and open with one another and the results were good – the rough draft is aware that it needs true change in its life, and it’s ready to face the challenges of transformation that it needs to go through in order to achieve its potential.¬† I have explained to it that it won’t do either of us any good for me to be gentle about it, that this is a time for straightforwardness and tough love.¬† The rough draft understands that, and claims to appreciate my good intentions, even when it hurts a little to hear the truth.

So now that we’re on the same page, (haha) I can finally get down to brass tacks.¬†¬†At the beginning of a rewrite, I¬†feel like there’s this huge, unmanageable¬†nebula of STORY that is bigger than the sum of the words that make it up, and I’m overwhelmed at the prospect of shaping the STORY, not just the words.¬† It seems impossible to organize, and I worry about it for a few weeks without really accomplishing much.¬† Then, at some point (in this case, this past week), I just start working, and things begin to take shape and make sense – almost instinctually, connections coming together “all on their own”.

Maybe that two or three weeks of “Oh, crap, I don’t wanna do this!” are actually necessary, and maybe underneath the panic, my subconscious is working away on the story in an effort to soothe my terrified conscious writer-brain.

Regardless, once I get started, my method is¬†firmly¬†reliant on organization and note-making.¬† What I’m doing to get to draft two is:

  • Break the book up into chapters, since the rough was so rough I didn’t even try to make it coherent (50,000 words in one month will do that)
  • At the beginning of each chapter, make notes on what needs to be fixed about the material, unless the entire chapter needs to be moved to another part of the book – then, I note what material¬†should be in the chapter and where the current material needs to be moved to
  • Include in the chapter by chapter notes any overarching themes/conflicts/ideas that need to be established by that point (such as, “By now, I need to have¬†explained the Tiernan religion’s kin figures…might be a good spot here, when Cordell does [this].”)
  • Obey the notes.

Once you have a plan for every chapter, it doesn’t seem so horribly overwhelming to dig in and do the work.¬† It starts to feel exciting.¬† It starts to be easy, except where you run into snags, and even those start to feel like puzzles to enjoy solving (in spite of the swearing that occurs as you work on them).¬† It’s starting to feel exciting to me now, and although I know I will gripe and moan over this draft later, I also know that I’ll get it done and I’ll be glad I did it.

Metathesiophobia – The Fear of Making Changes

Monday is my day for writing about the actual process of writing and revising.¬† And today I’m going to use it to vent about my revision process, because I’m in the stage of rewriting where you just look at your notes with the same numb horror that grips you when you see a particularly nasty car accident, except that you also occasionally bang your head on your desk and moan.¬† (Fellow writers, please tell me you have these kinds of days, too…?¬† Otherwise I have to question my sanity, and I don’t really want to.)

My notes, at least, are very organized.¬† I read through my NaNo draft a couple weeks¬†ago and made a¬†detailed page-by-page rundown of any problems I found – from awkward dialogue to gaping plot holes – and finished up with a set of observations about overall issues with the book as a whole.¬† Then I went through the notes with four colors of highlighter – (1) needs research, (2) needs additional material, (3) dropped thread / follow up, and (4) needs clarity / flesh out.¬† Any problems not in those categories are pretty much too small for me to care about at this point.¬† My philosophy is:¬† Fix the big stuff first.¬† Usually you’ll fix a lot of smaller stuff without meaning to in the process.

So, in a way, I know what to do next Рmy research, cut and combine some characters, re-outline with my dropped plot points and new character set in mind, and do some writing exercises to acquaint myself better with some of the characters and their backgrounds.

What makes it overwhelming is the scope of the book.¬† With so many characters and such a vast amount of information I need to convey to the reader within the first 1/4 of the book, the necessity of pinning the events down while keeping the feel¬†of the plot fluid for the reader, and a hella lot of complications, it’s a lot for one brain to keep track of.¬† It doesn’t help that my last book was a very focused first person POV, and now my writer muscles have to readjust to the different gravity of working in third person omniscient narration.

Woe is me.  But these are the times when a writer must buckle down and start the daunting task in spite of being overwhelmed by it.  If I need to, I will break out the colored pencils and DRAW the threads of the plotline as they move around each other and then converge and resolve.  Sometimes a brain does not want to think in words anymore, even when it is a writing brain.

Right now, anything that will get my head around this plot is my friend.

Looking Ahead

I’m curious to see how awful the editing process will be after I get the rough draft of my NaNoWriMo novel finished.¬† Writing an entire draft in a single month sounded crazy to me at first, but (at least with a pre-plotted concept) it’s going surprisingly well for me.¬† If the second draft rewrites are Hell on Earth, maybe this won’t become a regular practise for me, but if I find that the rewriting is no worse than usual, this is going to become my novel-writing method from now on!

Granted, all I do other than write and work right now is sleep and eat (not at the same time, thankfully (yet)) but one month out of the year is well worth it if I come out of that month with a novel to show for it.

I’m not sure what the point of all of this is, since normally my posts center around some kind of observation on the process itself, a method that has worked for me, or a brainstorming method.¬† Troubleshooting, as it were, for the writing and editing processes.¬† I’ll try to keep that up, but most of my mental energy right now is going straight to the pages of my book, so the blog may suffer in November.

So, I’m sorry for the brain-dead post, but that’s all I’ve got right now.¬† I’m zapped!