Fear is Fun! or Hanging Out with the Right People – K. L. Neidecker: The Blaagh

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In this crazy game called writing, I’ve met a few

Noth­ing makes you real­ize just how nor­mal it is to hem and haw, pro­cras­ti­nate and worry, more than know­ing a few folks who — even as the same crap nib­bles at their heels — still write book after book, story after story.

Couldn’t agree more. Funny thing is, I counted Kris in that crowd. Why? If you haven’t read his short, Gormek of the Thousand Tongues, you really should. It reminded me a lot of “thick” fantasy – a short story, sure, but with the same kind of depth and atmosphere as an Enge book.

If you feel this progression-stopping lizard fear tick­ling the back of your brain, do your­self a favor and min­gle a lit­tle with the right crowd. Get­ting stuck in your head is a bad thing at those times. Def­i­nitely avoid the down­ers — the artsy writ­ers who moan about how hard their nov­els were, how much time they put into every sen­tence, how tough it is to be a writer — but rub elbows via Face­book, email, stalk­ing via binoc­u­lars and record­ing devices planted in that person’s bath­room, with a few writ­ers. Those odd­balls who flip their lizard-brain the bird and write three nov­els in half a year. Those cham­pi­ons of what­ever pub­lish­ing style they love, be it tra­di­tional or indie, who spend more time writ­ing than they do mea­sur­ing and argu­ing the mer­its of this path or that, this online store or that, agents being won­der­ful things or vile grem­lins who steal your money.

Like I said, I was surprised to see Kris write this because all of this is what he, Fletcher, and a few others have been to me. Anyway, you should go read the whole thing, because it’s more meaningful than my trite little commentary..

Fear is Fun! or Hanging Out with the Right People – K. L. Neidecker: The Blaagh

Back to the writing grind

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Composite panoramic image of view of Yosemite ...

We’ve been in the apartment for almost two weeks now, but it wasn’t until late Saturday night that I was finally able to unbox my desktop and look into some writing. I’m still pushing out stories, albeit with a slight hiatus the last few weeks. At present I have five short stories out for consideration. That seems like a lot to me, especially given my sales record (zilch), but having worked on my quality for the last few years, I’m trying to work on my quantity. If I do enough of it, eventually something will sell somewhere, right?

On the novel front, as predicted, despite interest from some agents based on my elevator pitch, actual interest in the full novel hasn’t materialized. I’m still waiting to hear back from a few agents, but I’m far from being disappointed. I knew the novel was a tougher sale, and I’m more satisfied that I finished it even if no one wants to pick it up.

What I am trying to do right now is figure out what I’m going to work on next. Now that I have a workspace again (THANK YOU WIFE!!!), I feel like things are beginning to settle again. I find myself torn between wanting to work on the Niki Hunter series (which I think would probably be classified as New Adult, maybe paranormal thriller? Not a lot of romance involved, plenty of things that go bump in the night though), and wanting to work on some science fiction. Experience has taught me that I can’t do both at the same time, though – my brain doesn’t appreciate switching storylines that easily. I think while my brain works out what it wants to do, I will probably go back to working on that follow up to the Pearl Crescent. I had fun writing about Jei and Kinsing, and think another tale in their journey would be worth it.

Before I can do even that, though, I have to revisions and reductions on a short story I want to submit for an upcoming contest. Apparently, I also have to work at my job and take part in my family at the same time. Pffft.

Low word counts – awesome!

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This weekend, I found myself alone with the dog and the cat, carless.

It’s hard to convince people, but despite being somewhat of an introvert these days, I hate being alone. Sure, it’s been great bonding time for me and the animals. The cat in particular, who up till now has barely acknowledged me except when necessary, has followed me around all weekend. Three times, he even let me pick him and give him attention. Besides those five minutes (total), I needed something to occupy me. As tempting as Breaking Bad was in Netflix, I knew I needed to do some writerly work. (OK, I also watched the first season of BB, but that was really worth it.)

So it seemed like this would be the perfect time to work on revisions of the horror novel. Thursday I printed it out – all 426 pages – hole punched it, put it in a binder, and sat down to work on it. That’s when I realized just how tiring this can be, and how hard it is to see what you’ve accomplished.

When I’m writing a new piece, it’s easy to see how productive I am. At the end of the day, there’s a word count. The bigger the number, the better the day was. Going through this novel line by line, I’m both fixing glaring errors, as well as cutting out needless text. That means that at the end of the day, I’ll have anywhere from a few dozen “new” words (ie, more than I started with), but more likely negative word counts.

Oddly, I find that gratifying. The idea isn’t to bloat the text, nor to cut it too much. I’m trying to make it a bit tighter, streamlined. This time around, I’m trying to be concise.

So how am I working on it? As you can see in the picture, I have a binder with the first draft proof printed out, where I’m doing markups. The notebook behind that is where I’m keeping notes of things to address that are bigger than a few lines of text (scenes to move, blocks that needed deeper attention, etc.). I’m also keeping track of words I use too much that can be cut (there are a lot of “had <something>”s in my text, when a more direct verb works better). When I make enough progress in the binder, I switch gears and pull up the text in an editor, applying my handwritten changes. So far, this switching off has helped keep me from feeling overwhelmed. I’m nowhere near as far along as I had hoped when I started, but as of this morning I have revised and applied changes for the first third of the novel. I know it must seem a bit anachronistic to work with hardcopy like this (think of all the bushes I killed to print it!), but truth is I find it easier on my eyes, and easier to mark. I tried working off of my iPad, but line edits turned out to be clunky and the glare was awful. Working directly on the text on screen had me too quick to cut and chop because I was only looking at a small section of the text. With printed copy, I can flip, mark, erase, etc.

What’s next? Well, after I hear back from my beta reader and can see if their comments line up with the changes I implemented, I should be able to start sending this out for review. I’m a bit excited this time because I feel like beneath all of my typos and loose ends (which I’m correcting), there’s a solid story here. Reading through the novel is taking a while, but I’m still liking the story I see unfolding. That feels good :)