Adventures in editing

I just finished reading my manuscript all the way through. I had to stop edits to just read the last 50 pages because my timeline was all over the place and it was impossible to edit in a linear fashion until I grasped the whole thing. 

Anyway. I am done reading, gonna get back to edits tomorrow and the scenes i have to rewrite. BUT. I have an ending now, in mind (i was a little lost), and overall I can say that I like what I wrote. When I was writing it it felt awful (it usually does with me), but I’m very proud of what I have. It probably will need a ton of work after it goes to my editor, but the core that’s there — I’m happy with. I cannot wait to share it. 

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In which I make Erotica complicated

50 pages of manuscript left (before anything I have to add). 

My kids are at day camp for 2.5 hours a day for the next two weeks. It’s looking like I might get this done before my vacation (assuming my wrists and body allow me). 

I cannot believe I am this close to turning in an ACTUAL book for publication (fingers crossed). What a year. 

I’m knee deep in a complex section of the book; so many motivations and emotions and baggage to sort through. Sex that communicates, confuses, illuminates and things my men are trying to hide — this is a part of writing that I absolutely love. 

I once tried to explain to my best friend why I write erotica. How I rarely write sex that’s *just* sex. Exploring intimacy, lack of, motivations through sex challenges and inspires me. So much of the romance I’ve read in the past (and fuck I am an *avid* romance reader), treats sex as the end goal, as the culmination of an arc; as a reader though, I was often frustrated because I wanted to understand *how* sex changed things, how it spoke to the characters. How it pushed them apart, took them apart as individuals. How it healed or broke. I have a tendency to make things complicated. The potential for this to be a strength and the worry that it will be a weakness lingers over my shoulder watchfully. 

I know that sex can just be sex; but often what calls me to writing longer stories is trying to take apart the complicated tangles of characters lives, finding each brilliant thread that makes a whole. When I’m bringing characters together, sex is a huge part of that process. 

Right now, my boys are in quagmires of their own making. They are confused and a little angry but helpless magnets when it comes to the other. 

I wondered on twitter the other day, how much sex is too much for the reader? I got a lot of thoughtful responses from readers that amounted to a similar answer — if it’s plot driven and important for the movement of the plot, it will work. 

This is what I’m trying to do here, and I am hoping so much that I can pull this off. 

The Darkness

Currently I am knee deep in manuscript edits, which is a lovely blend of torture and fun. It’s wonderful to see that what I’ve written is not nearly as horrible as it seemed while I was frantically banging it out. 

However, going through this process highlights one of my biggest weaknesses as a writer (well perhaps also as an adult with responsibilities like raising kids). I seriously lack attention to detail skills. No matter how much I tried to proof my papers in school, I always got marked down for simple errors. I miss grammatical mistakes in my stories. I write so fast, I often make simple errors ( for example: it’s and its. Not because I don’t know the difference, but because I am not paying attention). Probably my favourite (yes, I spell it with a u, and it gets edited out of everything and makes everyone crazy but me) unexplainable error is my determination to spell against, agains’t. I have no idea why I do this. It’s so embarrassing (hey, consequently, a word I cannot remember how to spell no matter what I do) when I publish something only to find errors like this on a later read through. 

The editing process is a place when it can become all too easy to fall into that hole of self doubt where all you can see are your errors and weaknesses. Some, like the above, I am learning to find humor in (agains’t?!?! Really?). Others I really have to work not to focus on, because focus on those leads to The Darkness

The Darkness (as I shall now refer to self doubt) plagues me. I second guess almost everything, and often feel like I cannot trust my own interpretation of characters, motives, plot lines without someone there telling me it’s okay. 

I often wonder if I shouldn’t put a sticky note on my computer monitor reminding me that I am a good writer. I was raised in the school of Don’t Take Compliments. Figuring out how to honor my instincts as a writer often feels like wearing shoes that don’t fit — even acknowledging my strengths privately can feel like hubris that is unbecoming. 

Which honestly is a pile of crap. How on earth can I write and publish a book I believe in if I don’t trust that I am putting out something of worth? 

The truth, under The Darkness, is that I have been conditioning myself not to believe in something that is written deep in my bones — I would not have spent the last 20 odd years writing if I didn’t get something from it. And I certainly wouldn’t have taken risks with sharing what I write if I didn’t think what I was doing was worth it in some way, silly errors included.

Somehow, I feel like these posts always devolve into some form of believe in yourself, rah rah rah. Forgive me. Perhaps this is the only way I’ll prop myself up through the quagmire of finding it’s and its, against and agains’t, and figuring out what the hell notes like hey that word there that I need mean. I’ve also been completely consumed (and inspired) by Avian30‘s Do The Thing, which got my ass in gear hardcore when I was only half way done with a manuscript and had no idea how I would continue to climb that mountain. 

Luckily, as of right now, once I push The Darkness aside, the only mountain I have in front of me is editing pages and pages of smut. 

How I suffer 😀 

Quote

When you start, it’s very cold, an impossible task. But then maybe the characters start to take on a little bit of life, or the story takes a turn that you don’t expect … With me that happens a lot because I don’t outline, I just have a vague notion. So it’s always felt like less of a made thing and more of a found thing. That’s exciting. That’s a thrill.

Stephen King (via writingquotes)

Harnessing a Tornado

Last Saturday, I joyfully went to my local Kinkos (which wasn’t actually that local) and had them print out my first draft, all the while hoping they wouldn’t stop to read it and find some serious smut. Still, a few minutes after they got my file, I was holding 170 pages of fresh printed, warm papered story. 

Of course, I didn’t think ahead to things like a binder or a three hole punch. This means I am very carefully splitting the story into two as I go through it, and praying that my three year old will not get into them (which is a high hope, because my three year old is an adorable tornado of destruction).

I’ve improvised a crazy system involving sticky notes, colored index cards, regular index cards, and multiple kinds of pens. I’m reasonably sure there is probably a more streamlined way of doing this, but it probably wouldn’t be *me*. 

I’m a little tornado myself. In many ways, a lovely, chaotic, story telling tornado. With a destroyed house I am ignoring in favor of writing this book. Oh well. Sacrifices must be made, right? 

I referred in an earlier post to my character and plot development system and said I’d be talking about it in the future, and so I thought I’d begin here. 

I wrote my first novel participating in NaNo in 2007. I had no story idea. It was November 5th I believe, so I was already behind. I was working a soul sucking, mind numbing job with truly mean people. Except for one girl, who like me, dreaded each day of work. Unlike myself, she *had* a story idea that she’d always wanted to write, but never thought she could because she wasn’t a huge reader. 

I sent her a link to the NaNo website and encouraged her to be my writing buddy. As a nice side effect, it distracted us for a bit from the horror of our jobs. 

I went into NaNo with no plan, with no idea how to write a book, how to structure it, how to develop characters. So I just made things up. I started with a moment and thought to myself, “What happens after this?” I allowed the story and characters to fall into place like dominoes. After a while, my characters started doing things I didn’t expect, and some that I’d created for background moments started to step forward to carry parts of the plot. I told myself that this is what happens when you write at a breakneck speed. Next time I write a book, I told myself, I’ll plan it out, I’ll know the characters completely, I’ll work to flesh out a completely developed plot. 

Oh god, if only I could. 

The truth is that I am a chaotic writer. I write like a flash flood, fast and hard and messy as hell. I write *through* a story, and in doing, am slowly learning to accept that I have to let the characters talk to me. That I have to allow myself to let go of plans and to trust my intuition, because, as it turns out, I am a highly intuitive writer.  Although It is often hard to trust that I’m going to get *there*, that amorphous ending point (which, after writing that first mess of a novel, I started to do — that is have an idea of how it ends, at least), it’s just how I write. And I must be doing something right: I hope that that little Interlude Press logo confirms that, if only to myself. 

For the moment’ I’ll have to leave you with that. Stay tuned for more conversation regarding character development, small hints of what is happening and who they are and how I am attempting to harness the tornado of this whole experience. I must be off though, because my kids have decided to open my storage totes to make caves for themselves. I should create a superhero persona for myself: Mommy Writer, with the power to write romance and smut, but also corral active little boys who are stuck indoors due to rain. 

I am off to find a cape then. While I do so, I’ll encourage you all to attend Interlude’s 24 Launch Party. I’ll be speaking about writing original fiction with other 2015 authors. There will be sweet giveaways. And if you want, you can register here for chances to win a free copy of my ebook when it is published! 

 

Link

On July 22nd, Interlude Press will be hosting a 24 hour launch party. Interlude Press will be hosting live chats and Q&A’s throughout the day with authors, as well as title reveals. Join us on google+ the day of to listen in, as well as to enter to win various awesome swag. I’ll be talking at 6pm with some of the other 2015 authors who are writing original fiction. 

As a part of this awesome world wide launch celebration, if you enter here (and by here I mean the lovely green box you see above) you can win a copy of my debut novel, which is slated to be published in 2015 (eeeeee!).  I am so excited to share this story with you guys, I cannot wait. 

If you are interested in checking out raffles for other IP authors, including the Grand Prize (free books for a year), you can check out more information at the Interlude website. Here is a list of who is speaking when and about what! 

Hope to see you all there with party hats and PJ’s on! 

**apparently the links to the Facebook and Goodreads weren’t working. They’ve been fixed now :D**

Win a Free Copy of my Book!