Saturday, November 28, 2015

Deep see, diving

Last night I sat down and started going through the rewrite. I was equipped with some print outs, highlighters, pens, and some notes I took concerning what I remember leaving out, messing up on, and just holes in general that needed filling. I didn't get very far into the process. Initially, I was happy because there were no serious errors, and as I went along I actually recalled stopping around chapter 10 or so, and going through the beginning just to make sure I wasn't imagining things. I thought to myself, "Oh, well, this might not even be worth it. Surely the beginning is fine."

That sentiment quickly changed when I piled on the knowledge I had gained by actually finishing the rewrite. I thought the pen would be enough, circle here, arrow there, some underlining, some striking through. Then, I put the pen down, and took up the highlighter. Entire sections needed to be scrutinized under the bright ink. I was reminded again of a writer friend's appraisal that many times, my sentences and passages need to be "unpacked." The more I see it, the more I understand what he meant.

A different friend, also on yesterday, accused me of being "Hemingway-esque," on several occasions. She is a Shakespearean scholar and somewhere between my expressing dislike over the excessive nature of that style, and those who take from it, she blurted about my lack of description. That's when she compared me to the author of few words. "I want poetry," she confessed. She also admitted that she had thought it previously, and wanted to say it, but wasn't sure if it mattered, because she still thinks my writing is good. So, we cleared the air.

I did not come away thinking that I should change my style, but I knew all along that this novel was different. She'd read my urban fantasy, where the setting is the next room over from the everyman's everyday. That, for me, is an essential aspect of urban fantasy, of the supernatural or horrific tale. First, it has to be recognizable, not so the reader invests, but so the reader falls backwards into the belief that the setting is the world they know, so that when things start to bloom with magic, they can believe that their own world might have some wonder, also. This new story is science fiction. With aliens and spaceships and advanced technology as mainstays within the genre, descriptions become more important. I knew that, going in, and busy clouds of highlighter insist that I did not do a great job.

Good news is that I'm in a good place, finally, to address those things, to take a step back and focus on the detail that occurs within the framework of a story of which I am finally proud. I am confident that I can do it. I am less confident that I can do it in a time span that let's me achieve such a goal by beginning of next year. However winter break is upcoming. Maybe I'll throw myself into it, and see what happens.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Up, up, and up

The end is near. Of the novel that is. I can't be sure if what I've drafted is award-winning, best-selling, critically-acclaimed material, but it feels really good to almost be done. It should've been done earlier this year, and as the weather thawed, ignited, and cooled off again, I consistently kicked myself for not being dedicated enough to it, for taking some weeks off. I second guessed, even third guessed. Even still, I know that the editing is going to be taxing and brutal, but I'm still happy. Get it all down before you realize it sucks. Words from my mentor, that I've actually passed on to several other people. When he first said them to me, I could not fathom how useful they would be.

It's November, so I've been asked about National Novel Writing Month. I won't be participating. I explain, and I believe, that the occasion originally was for people who kicked themselves year in, year out, about the book they "should" be writing. They take notes, they ponder, they tell a lot of people about it, then the words never quite find themselves onto a page. November is a good month, in America, with businesses winding down in preparation for the winter break, very few events are scheduled, and the Thanksgiving holiday makes the work month feel like half a month. Perfect time to plop down somewhere and bang out 50,000 words. But for me, I'm at the end of a project which I've already been working on. I'm not going to rush it, or do anything different for it than what I have been. I just don't need the incentive.

And what I did need, I found yesterday. Some people talk about writing themselves into holes. Crashing through the pages with little regard, gripping tightly to the creative muse and holding on for dear life. And sometimes, that kind of abandon can pin one into an unfortunate situation, sort of like barging into a villain's trap. The story logic and established facts of the writing create the sand pit or trap door or locked room. Then, following a bit of panic, it becomes time to calm down and write oneself out of that hole. Something similar happened to me. Not that I didn't see it coming, but I did find myself in a situation where the event would have increased impact because of its vicinity to the end of the book. I want all the words to be good, all the scenes, all the characters, but I work extra hard on making the beginnings and the endings that much more vivid and satisfying, if possible. So a situation that I hadn't put much weight on, after examining my outline, suddenly would be one of the seminal things that would characterize how the book ended. Pressure. And after a few days of brainstorming, I think I found a way to pull it off nicely. So, there's that.

There are changes occurring at my publisher. I'm a professional though, so that's about all I'll say. It has been very educational to learn how things work, and how they can change. The world is broad and filled with all kinds of people. I say that not to state the obvious, but only to point out how much more broad it is beyond my initial conceptions. As far as the people go, well, what I have been mostly intrigued by is finding the kinds of people I already knew, in places I never thought I would find them. Also on the topic of things I will only hint at, I may have a really interesting opportunity beginning of next year. Hopefully that won't fall through. I am using the chance as a spring board to make 2016 better and brighter. I'll be submitting the novel, starting a new one, and applying to read again at the local book festival. And maybe even a signing.

The sky is the limit, is what they say, but I think the limit is only us.