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Fumbling around with software – I must be half way through something

I know, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I want to feel bad about that, but life is life. Is with all things in the Mundane, there’s no exciting reason for my absence. I haven’t been traveling, or kidnapped by foreign (read: ALIENs) to work on a secret project that will be the salvation of mankind, only no one will ever know because they will never realize how close we came to falling into the great abyss from which the sleeping, tentacled demigod Phobos slumbers, dreaming of the day he will smite us.

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Nope, none of that. Mostly, it’s just a question of work. A common refrain, I know, but the deep truths are like that. That said, and while the last few weeks haven’t been very productive (re: day job trumps side job), somewhere along the line I have made some progress. The current WIP is a few words under 72k. You’d think that was a sign that I was winding down, but alas, it does not appear to be so.

I thought I would finish writing this book at around 60-70k words, truth be told. But as I wrote, I realized that if I stopped now, although I’d resolved a few major story lines, I’d leave a lot of cliffhangers. A quick poll among writer and reader friends made it abundantly clear that that would be a Bad Idea™. So I had to take a deep breath, see where I was, and re-evaluate just where I was headed next. Part of that re-evaluation was the understanding that I’m still a ways away from being done.

Meanwhile, I got back edits of Chrysalis from my copy editor, the amazing Bryan Thomas Schmidt. What Bryan sent back was amazing, awesome, and in depth. I’ve taken some time to go through the first half of the edits – typographical and style fixes – but now I need to wrestle with the second half of his notes, suggested weak spots in the narrative. I didn’t used to think I could switch gears like that, working on two very different novels at once, but I find it’s a lot like reading multiple books at the same time. It takes a few minutes to settle back into the right mold and gel, but it’s smooth sailing from there.

Of course, with work being overwhelming and stunting my creative drive lately, I find myself with too little time to make a dent in words, so I do what I do best – get frustrated with the tools I’m using. I’ve had a long, long love/hate relationship with Scrivener. It is the best thing since sliced bread, except when you really want a buttered roll, and then its a struggle to make it work.

Take the edits I got back from Bryan. While there was a separate document discussing content, the bulk of the edits were inline suggestions and comments in the docx I sent him. Scrivener was great about exporting that docx, but when it came to re-ingesting it it failed me miserably. I knew from the start I couldn’t re-import it to update what I had (wouldn’t that be grand!?). But it turned out I couldn’t even import it as a secondary document without losing a lot of Bryan’s work.

To give a frame of reference here, I’m the kind of person that likes to work with one set of tools from start to finish as much as possible. Sure, best tool for the job, but when the job is writing, I like there to be consistency. Having to work through suggested changes in one program, then import it into another to work on commented text, then apply that to the living document was…ew.

And so, the return of markdown editing in my life. I’ve bounced back and forth between writing markdown (a formatting language, not a tool) and using Scrivener, but this last experience really set my course. When I write in markdown, I can transform my document into anything (including docx). When I get a document back with comments and suggestions, I can use pandoc to seamlessly transform that docx back into a markdown document, with tracked changes and comments intact. As if that weren’t appealing enough, using markdown (a plain text formatting syntax), I can edit in any editor that can handle plain text. That makes every document usable on every platform without any work.

Which is a really long way to say I just spent all of Saturday morning tweaking my (g)vim setup to look amazing while editing markdown documents. As an added bonus, since I’m storing my document on Google Drive, it’s available to my Chromebook (and there are some great text editor apps for the Chromebook). As a big fan of Jamie Rubin‘s automatic wordcount tally scripts, I don’t even have to do anything extra – md files are already processed. I just have to write, wherever I want, in any editor I want.

OK, enough procrastinating. I should get to working on the new book. And editing the last one. And doing stuff of monumental nature.

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