Writing Hall of Horror

If you know me at all, you might know that I work from the two crappiest, most unreliable computers in existence. One is really almost dead and is literally falling apart, and the other has never really been the same since it was resuscitated from the virus from hell. I have the constant fear that it will eat my work, but am afraid to use my external hard drive because my friend who performed the Lazarus miracle was unsure if the virus could have infiltrated that. Who has the money to go to Best Buy to fix that? Not I right now.

Anyway, the point is that this weekend I discovered that I somehow did a scary awful horrifying thing. I had been working on my new project in two places. Somehow I had a copy saved in my downloads, and another in my documents, with the same file name. I didn’t even know that was possible!! Only when I sent it to a great friend for advice (and also, after she’d read about 20k words of it) did I realize she was reading an older draft — one she’d already read too, she must have thought I was really incapable of editing.

Thus ensued panic. Like, want to throw up panic. I have a lot of balls I am juggling right now between writing new project with a deadline coming SOON, working on things for Hush (omg the reality of this book almost being in everyone’s hot little hands is SO INTENSE), work, kids having multiple snow days because it was too cold, other writing projects for my other fandom life….figuring out which changes I made where sounded like a hall of horrors I couldn’t even fathom.

Luckily I have an awesome editor who actually knows how to work this newfangled technology (read: Word. I’ve become such a luddite in my old age), and showed me how to compare them. Which is way easier but also time consuming and daunting and takes away from the whole, you know, writing and editing the manuscript in time.

This is not my first foray into the Writing Hall of Horror. There are so many times I’ve been there — I am sure all writers and artists have. Set backs, wrong turns, storylines that just don’t work, having to rearrange book length manuscripts, research that fails — there are so many ways these things can go wrong.

I’ve been asked why I do this, put myself through this, when the rewards seem so little. I assume by this people mean financial rewards, for which there have been none yet in my writing career.

I guess all I can say is that passion, and living dreams, being honest about who you are and that calling in your core — those are the rewards worth more than anything to me. I grew up with an artist, and although I never made art like she, I knew that I had words. I’ve known since I was little. But the rewards people expect you to reap for such hard work (mostly, money, status, prestige) made living that dream in anyway but the fringe seem frivolous.

Once I gave myself permission to do it, to write regardless of what was expected of me, it’s like the whole world opened up. I found that I have great strengths in writing — one of which I explore in Hush, which is the way that intimacy, sex, power dynamics can be used to really examine character growth and development — and that I have things to work on. Luckily, communities of writers and readers exist to help, encourage, give constructive criticism.

Today I’m thinking of the Hall I must venture into in order to sort the shit storm of this dual document hell, the research hell of figuring out where to place my characters, figuring out how much I need to know about one character’s profession, trying to ignore my fears about Hush… but thinking about who I am, how passionate I am about this, how necessary it seems — it’s maybe less scary and a whole lot worth it.

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When they said to get ready….

Wow did they mean it! 

I should clarify. About a week before my editor (who is amazing) got the first edit of my manuscript back to me, she said “Are you ready to get really busy?” 

Of course I said, “Yeah, of course.”

This is the first year both my kids have been in school/daycare for the first time. Naturally, my instinct was to think: wow all the time I’ll have!! So I made all sorts of plans for how I would fill all that empty time. A grad course. Commitment to helping my 1st grader’s teacher in the classroom. My yearly commitment to a 9 month committee for our huge charity event. Also, sometime a lot of you understand; due to money issues I took on a few extra things involving trying to make a little money on the side. 

Naturally, all of these things seem to have converged in the last two weeks. Timing genius, this also coincides with me throwing my neck into spasm. 

Man, when it rains, it does pour. I have a presentation for my course Thursday. My edits are due Wednesday. I have a planning meeting for school stuff for my son, and the first meeting for our charity event.  

Okay, this sounds like a list of complaints. But I promise, other than the neck, it’s not. I’m blessed with a rich and interesting life. And, guys…I’M WRITING A BOOK THAT’S GOING TO BE PUBLISHED. I’m being courted for an amazing grad program I’ve definitely decided to apply for (with a very strong possibility of an offer for assistantship). I get to be a part of my son’s school life, and once again be a part of an amazing charity planning committee for a cause that’s incredibly close to my heart. 

I am living the life. The busy, busy life. 

Yesterday I finished the first run through of edits after getting them back. Wow. 

There are parts I’m happy with, things I’m unsure of still, moments I kind of don’t like (I think that might be a forest through the trees thing), and finally: an ending I am really fucking proud of

I am so excited to share this story with you guys, 2015 cannot come soon enough. I just have to find the time to breathe, get stuff done, and hold it all together. Hopefully, soon enough I’ll have more specific things to share with you regarding the book. 

Tiniest of tiny hello

I’ve been a complete remiss blogger of late. I have no excuses. 

Oh that’s a lie I have plenty: recovery from vacation. Recovery from the final slog to turn in my manuscript. Family emergency. Exhaustion from all of that (I can count that double, yes?).  Going back to school. Getting my kids back into school and managing how we’re all working out times and schedules.

Also, somehow finishing the manuscript set some other writing portion of my brain free and I had a two or three week whirlwind of insanity in which I wrote several short stories in my fannish world. 

Now it’s nose back to the grindstone as I’ve gotten my first round of edit notes back! This is such an exiting and daunting process for me. It’s been a challenge, to say the least, to try to trust myself when writing; am working hard to work myself out of the need for hand holding. There might or might not be a constant mantra (this is my story. Only I can tell it) circling in this cavernous jumble of a brain with the hopeful intent that it will actually sink in. 

But it’s all happening — all of this beautiful insanity of life with passions and family and goals converging into these moments in time. Rather than let myself feel swept up and away, I think I’ll leave my editing portion of the day with a high five before girding my loins and tackling some school work. 

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. 

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 😀