Writer of Soul-Searching Snark

Archive for the ‘editing’ Category

Balance or as I call it WTF?!?

New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t believe in them because years of experience have taught me that they simply set me up for failure. Who wants to start a new year as a loser? I mean, really? There are enough other situations throughout the year to confirm that I’m not the best at following through with plans. Boxes and boxes of fabric and shelves of quilting books remain untouched after years of being in the sewing queue. The ever growing stack of books by my bed shows that nowadays I read three sentences and then fall asleep. Not to mention the cobwebs in the corners of my house or the knee-deep cat-fur lining on the carpet upstairs.

So, for 2012 I made no resolutions. Instead I made a schedule with tasks that have to be completed each month. I’m a project manager for heaven’s sake. I know about planning, execution and completion of projects. I’m great at it when I’m working on a project for someone else!

By the end of 2011, I was so frustrated I was ready to go to work at the Japton feed store. To heck with creativity! I was prepared to drown my muse in the upper pond and leave his lifeless body for the snapping turtles, but even I decided that was a wee bit extreme.

Instead, I broke out the poster board and charted my life. God, I love charts. I get all tingly when I break out the multicolored markers. The only thing better is an Excel spreadsheet. Those make my knees weak. After careful consideration and navel gazing I tried to analyze the aspects of my life that I found most frustrating. When I figured it out, I was shocked. Shocked I say!

Unfortunately, I’d already killed my muse. Well, not killed exactly, but stuffed him in a duffel bag and buried him under tons of shoes and cocktail dresses in the back of my closet. (Don’t even get me started on how good he looked in those red-spiked heels and cute little black dress when I finally freed him.)

Turns out the reason I was so frustrated with my writing career was because I hadn’t written anything new in months. I’d spent hours and hours and hours editing, but had done nothing new and fun and creative.

On January 2nd, I sat in front of my computer and opened my current WIP and wrote. Oh God, the endorphins that raced through my body. Oh, the elation! Loved every second of it.

Only problem, that dadgum social networking. Seems like for me it’s either/or. I can write. I can spend hours online writing blog posts, visiting other people’s blogs, keeping up with Facebook, Twitter and e-mail.

I chose writing. The result? Nada on the social networking side of things. My family says this is a no-brainer. You write. I explain that sure, I can write, but who will buy my books if no one has a clue who I am?

How do you do it? How do you keep your house clean, your animals fed, yard mowed, write 4 hours a day and maintain a web presence? How? Tell me? How do you do it? Huh? Tell me! Now damn it! I must know!! How in God’s name do those authors who work full time do it? How?! I must know!

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Editing… Again!

So far I’ve really enjoyed the editing process for The Redneck Ex. The editor I’m working with has been great. For the most part, I’ve not questioned any of her edits. For example, the removal of the word “that.” I swear I already took all those out, but apparently not. There were two places where we had a discussion. She asked that I change something that I felt strongly should stay the way it is. After explaining my rationale, she agreed. No problems there.

We’ve been through 2 complete edits and she sent the mss to the copy editor. I received it on Friday and have been going through it. I’m in shock. I absolutely can not believe there are that many errors in this book! My God, how many times have I edited the darn thing, even before it went to the editor? I’m a fairly good writer (grammatically speaking) to begin with. And yet, there are all kinds of errors in this thing. One thing that I’ve found interesting is that there are sentences out of order in the copy-edited piece.

How does that happen? I always assumed copy-editing was a case of copy and paste, but apparently it’s not. I wish I could blame all the corrections required on mistakes by the copy editor, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. So, after reading the mss one more time, I need to make a list of corrections for the editor.

I’ve often heard at conferences that no matter how good your story is, you need to be able to write well to sell it. I’ve heard folks explain it like this: If an editor is faced with a marginal story that requires a few edits and the next NY Times bestseller that needs tons of edits, he’ll go with the marginal story. Now, I know why. My stuff didn’t require that many changes/ corrections and it’s a tedious process. I can’t even imagine the work that would go into editing the first novel I wrote. What a nightmare!

So, I’m off to edit land. At least it’s cool there.

Artistic Integrity

For months, no make that over a year, I toiled over every single word, every period, comma, emdash and exclamation point. Should this sentence start with a noun-verb or should I throw in one of those dreaded “ing” words? How many adverbs are in this paragraph? 22? That should be fine. Page 86 has 15 exclamation points. Do you think the reader will understand that Summer Leigh is angry? Maybe not. Add 7 more exclamation points and say “Damn it” a few more times. Don’t want to be ambiguous.

Hours and hours of painstaking creativity. When I finally wrote the words: The End, I opened up a bottle of wine and danced around my living room naked. It was 9 AM and the visiting preacher was slightly shocked, but I didn’t care. The book was FINISHED! Woo hoo!

Then, the next day, I started editing. More hours. More angst. More torment over every word, emotion, subplot, and character arc. I know Summer Leigh better than I know myself. I understand every breath Dwight makes. I know his hopes and dreams and understand his five marriages and five divorces. Personally, I fell in love with Anton. And the cats, Goren and Sipowicz, are a pair of the funniest cat clowns ever. I poured my heart and soul into each character. I created a flawed, but lovable, band of merry men/women.

Here’s where the artistic integrity comes in. When the publisher made suggested changes, my heart fell to the floor and the dogs took it outside and threw it around the yard for an hour or two. CHANGE my characters? Those beautiful, funny, snarky characters?! Rename the cats? Are you insane?!?!?

These thoughts rattled around my befuddled skull for about 3 seconds. Seriously, 3 seconds. The word, published , danced in front of my clouded eyes and I sold out. Who needs a funny sidekick? Who needs cats? Shoot, if they told me to move Summer Leigh to Orlando and make her an accountant for Disney World, I would have. If they suggested that instead of Dwight being a civilian contractor who was injured in Iraq, he should be a crop duster in Honduras, I would’ve been good with that too.

So much for artistic integrity. The way I see it published is published. In five years, when I’m the next Nora Roberts, I can release the book in its original form. Until then, I’ll be happy to sell millions of the revised story.

There’s a really good chance that the publisher of hundreds of romances a year might actually know more about what sells in the genre than I do. 🙂 So, I’ve decided listening to their suggestions is a good idea.