Blogging once more on the Vision Writers website about yesterdays meeting and what I thought was the best piece of advice given. Curious? Check it out – and my sneaky gaming reference(which I’m delighted to have snuck in since I was wearing a shirt that had an in-joke for players of the Atelier series of games at the meeting ;p )
picture sourced from Wikimedia commons and the National Library of Norway
I hate silence. I am a chatter box (not a surprise to those who know me offline), and I love to sing in the car, I even prefer to do housework while listening to audiobooks. I like having a soundtrack to life.
But you need to focus when editing – no music, no audio books, no yammering with someone. A rock and a hard place (for me anyway ;p ).
Cue awesome rainy day soundtracks like Rainy Mood.com. White noise. Something nice to keep life’s sound track jogging along but uninvasive enough to give your full concentration to work.
Does anyone else suffer from a need for noise? What do you like to use?
In the newly added learning goal I have read two books on improving my craft, ‘The Elements of Style’ and ‘Self-Editing for Fiction Writers’. I also attended two webinars and went to my writer’s group and got some amazing feedback (you can read about my reaction in this post). Finally – in the last minutes (OK, not minutes, hours more like) of the month – I joined Holly Lisle’s 7 Day Crash-Revision Workshop. I would have loved to have had the money for her full How To Revise Your Novel course, but alas and alack not this month. (Side note: Holly’s courses are great, I’ve done one of her big ones (How To Think Sideways, now available as e-books) and several of her smaller ones and recommend her to anyone looking at courses on writing. No, I’m not an affiliate, just a happy student.)
In actual creation I made a flash fiction, ‘Eyes on The Sky’, but birthed nothing else new. It isn’t my greatest work to date, and I definitely need to go over it again, but I don’t want to pull it down either.
I started converting the Kindle edit of ‘Written by The Stars’ into the Scrivener file, also did editing and rewrites for my short story ‘The Beauty of the Dance’ and ‘The Wyvern’s Sting’ based on awesome feedback from beta-readers.
I submitted a horror/supernatural piece called ‘Brown Paper Packages’ to my writer’s group for critique after tiding it up, but it was an older piece I went back and cleaned, not a new creation.
I could have done a lot more, even though there was severe back pain, broken down cars which needed parts from France (I know, France? Seriously!?) and relatives moving into our house (and taking up our junk room so aaaaaall that junk needing to be relocated and organised), but also there were things I did instead of writing that weren’t so justified, like playing Ni No Kuni and finishing my 1,000 piece puzzle. So this month I am determined to put in more effort.
OK, so as I have set myself so many goals for this year I thought I would re-cap where I’m at with each of my goals at the end of each month. Accountability, oh yeah! If you need a refresher on my goals you can read the original post here.
Goal 5 has been fruitful for me since I entered two stories into the Black Apples Anthology (Belladonna Publishing) and another one for the Oomph: A Little Bit of Super Goes A Long Way (Crossed Genres).
I’ve also written quite a bit this year, finishing some short story drafts I started in December (Charming, The Wyvern’s Sting, Short Circuit), editing based on beta readers/critique group feedback (Groundskeeper & The Wyvern’s Sting) and writing from scratch (The Beauty of The Dance, Emily’s Typewriter). You can read blurbs for and see where I’m at on all of these stories on my Current Projects page.
I’ve done no work on any of the novels yet (writing wise, editing I am doing), but it is still only January so I can’t get too worked up about that.
In relation to number six I’ve started work on the story I believe will be the incentive to subscribe (The Beauty of The Dance) and have put some effort and thought into which mail service I will use (do I go free or not?).
I’ve also commenced editing ‘Written By The Stars’ (if you want to know more about the story check it out in my Current Projects page) by converting it to .mobi format and reading it on my kindle. I feel so tech savvy doing it that way ;p I’ve done all the edits and just need to action them in the Scrivener file. So I’ve started number 2, but not completed.
Writing my second novel was the easy part. My son was a sleepy angel who would wake me for a 5:30/6am feed then sleep til 8am and go to bed at 9pm (obviously there were naps during the day as well) allowing me to get up early and stay up late without exhausting myself and I used this fabulous month to tap the novel out of my brain and onto the page.
I printed it out as soon as I’d run spell check and tried very hard to wait a fortnight before editing(a well-known writer’s trick that is supposed to ‘distance’ you from the words you wrote).
The entire editing process has been painfully slow. I’m only about two thirds through. I wrote the novel faster than this. The lethargic pace is partly due to my son not being so generous with his bed times (babies love to change up their schedules every few months). The other (read: larger) problem was that something was wrong, but it was eluding me.
In my earlier posts I told you all that my writer’s group sure as heck knew what the problem was. As soon as my problem was identified I was full of ideas and went back through that first chapter and a half and rewrote probably 90% of it. A few lines and paragraphs made it through alive, but the remainder were slaughtered as sacrifices to the Muse.
It’s very interesting to see how much a simple idea (or hint or tip) can help you. It’s just as interesting to see how much of a problem the same ‘simple’ idea can be when it remains unidentified.
Yup, you read correctly: apostrophes are my nemesis. When I sit down and think, when I speak aloud the rules I have a complete grasp of when and where to use an apostrophe, but for some reason – some crazy, demented, fat finger typing reason – I can never type them in the correct spot, thus requiring I have to go back over everything I wrote and look closely at my placement of each and every little nemesis.
I try so hard to break the habit, but my problem is if I pause to think each time I type a word containing (or requiring) an apostrophe I lose the flow. Anyone who writes knows what I mean when I say ‘the flow’. It’s that fabulous stream of words that just gushes out of your fingers like water from a fireman’s hose, so fast and furious your fingers can barely keep up. It’s that moment when the creative muse curls up inside you like a cat on your lap and blesses you with idea after idea so you can just keep going all day (or at least until the baby wakes and demands attention).
When you attain the flow you do not want to halt it for something so trivial as the placement of an apostrophe, be it a key that you just didn’t press hard enough or because your brain was paying more attention to the sentence or the paragraph than the individual word.
I mean, that’s what editing is for. You look over your work for all the finger fumbles that put ‘e’ before ‘i’ because you were typing so fast one finger didn’t keep up with the others; all the places where you forgot to add punctuation; where you wrote a sentence that just kept going and going like an unending river that seriously needs a few stops somewhere in it and of course, for those tricksey little apostrophes (or whatever your individual weakness is).
Anyone who claims they never have to check over their writing is lying. I bet even Stephen King does and Neil Gaiman, or whoever your particular favourite (and prolific) author is. I refuse to believe I’m the only writer who gets so carried away with ideas that she makes a few mistakes in the first draft. That’s why they’re called first drafts, right?
Kirstie Olley is an award-winning speculative fiction author and the full-time wrangler of her children Xander and Harlequin.
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