Low word counts – awesome!

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 🙂

IT lives

No posts for two weeks, and not a bit of shame over it. This has been a house of plague and pain, and all just a month  before we’re flying away to the next chapter in our lives. For the better part of a week, I wasn’t able to sleep on my back. Not insomnia – oh no, my friends, I was tired, so very tired. But back pain interrupted my sleep, locking up as soon as I  relaxed. Instead of a fitful night’s sleep, I ended up in a half sitting, half asleep position in the living room.

It sucked.

And the side effects were less than welcoming. Within a few days I became extra grouchy and twice as lethargic. My body wanted to sleep whenever I got comfortable for more than a moment, fearful it wouldn’t get another opportunity. Writing? Not happening. I didn’t have writer’s block; the stories were all there still, sitting in neat little rows, waiting to be woven together with words on screen. What I had was a lack of energy and strength to think coherently enough to write them down.

And that really sucked. The creative juice I use to write stories? Same juice powers my work brain and everything else. It’s been a long few weeks, all of it muddled together in my mind as just one long hazy dullness.

I’m happy to say that I’m almost back on my feet. Sleep has returned, brain is almost back up to speed. I know I declared that I wouldn’t work on another novel until after the move, but I have to be honest. I miss the writing slough, shedding words. The worst influence of all? This kid:

As a family member in Plague House, Youngest Daughter was home sick this week. How did she spend her sick time? On a laptop, in the backyard. Doing what? Researching and working on her just announced trilogy. Because writing is fun, Dad. Because writing is fun.

Well, if that wasn’t motivation for me to be working on something, I don’t know what is.

National Novel Writing Month

Well, I blame Dan, really, for reminding me last night via twitter that today was the start of National Novel Writing Month. So…I succumbed to peer pressure (sorry Mom and Dad, I know you always warned me about this, though I think you were more worried about slightly harsher addictions).  Of course, the website is being hammered hard today (all the other budding writers signing up on the first of November like me, probably), so good luck getting the page to load. I don’t expect that the novel will be completed by Dec 1 – no with only 10% currently done after weeks (and me thinking about hacking out a lot of the imported stuff to start fresh). But I think the extra pressure will be a good thing. It’s kind of like my 100,000 word goal – if I can get more than that, great, but I actually set the bar at 100,000 so I’d have room when editing to cut out 10-15,000 words to tighten the writing.

Unfortunately, blog posts don’t count towards word counts for the contest, and I’m squandering some free time with teh kids that I could be in oowriter for, so….bye!