The Rewarding Part

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So, a few weeks ago, I put up a post about how editing is hard.  This wasn’t necessarily news for most writers, especially those who have taken the time to polish a piece for submission or publication.  It felt like news to me this time around.  Even though I’ve gone through the process many times before, and I have a book out, this most recent editing and revision pass has been excruciating.

But now I’ve gotten to the rewarding part.  I reworked over 300,000 words worth of variously revised chapters and scenes into about 132,000 words worth of beginning, middle, and climax.  I just have a few scenes worth of falling action and conclusion left.  I’m beginning to get excited about having a completed draft again.

Having fought through all the tough rewrites and cutting some of my favorite scenes and lines, I’m almost to “the end” again.  By this time next week, I should have the last little bit finished and be ready to work on something else for a change.  And just in time for Camp NaNoWriMo’s July session.

I’m always excited about finishing a draft, but there’s something even better about finishing a hard won revision.  I feel like I’ve worked so much harder to reach this goal and it makes the victory even sweeter.  Plus, there’s some concrete evidence of all that work.  When all is said and done, I’ll have cut the manuscript in half, which means a tighter plot and less filler.  I’ll have better focused on my main story line, and thinned the subplots so that they’re properly named again.  And I might even have properly teased out the subplot I’ve been struggling with the most (we’ll have to wait and see if the last few scenes turn out as planned).

The point of all this, is that even though editing can feel like a struggle, it’s definitely rewarding to keep pushing through and getting the work done.  So if you find yourself wallowing in the middle of your edits, take heart and keep pushing forward.  The best part is still to come.

Image Prompt 029 Response – Snow

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I selected the Boone, NC photo of a wind chime for my image prompt this week.  Below is the result of a 20-minute sprint and quick editing pass for grammar and spelling.

Snow:

The wind chimes still made their soft tinkling noises as the wind blew through the little grass alleyway behind the apartment.  Snow was piled on top of the thing, but it didn’t affect the sound of the copper pipes that hung down.  It had been here when she moved in, probably forgotten by some past renter of the tiny little place with the barely functioning base-board heaters.

Angel turned away from the window, pulling the towel she used as a curtain back into place.  She needed all the insulation she could get.  She spent most of the winter curled up under fleece blankets or sipping hot chocolate.  She’d taken to making a single cookie just as an excuse to use her oven, which was a far more effective heater than anything else in the apartment.

It was starting to get dark, which made her worry.  Her little brother, Brian was supposed to have arrived an hour ago.  She’d been looking forward to a weekend with him for months.

When there was a knock on her door, she hurried over, expecting it to be Brian smiling back at her with the same green eyes they’d both gotten from their mother.

Angel opened the door to find a man she didn’t know, bundled up in a parka, hat, and scarf.  At least he guy was pulling the scarf down so she could see his face, which sported a full beard in a brown that matched his eyebrows.

“Can I help you?” Angel asked.

“I’m hoping so,” the guy said with a little smile she could barely make out around the facial hair.  “We found directions to your place in the passenger seat of a car that slid off the road onto our property,”

“The driver?” she asked urgently.

“My dad took him to the emergency room,” the guys replied.

“Is he okay?” Angel could feel her stomach tightening up with panic.

“Calm down,” the guy said, reaching out to rest a hand on her shoulder.  “It’s nothing life threatening, he just got knocked out when the car slid and we think he hit his head on the window.”

Angel took a deep breath.

“I’m guessing you were expecting somebody with how you’re reacting,” the guy went on.

“My little brother,” she answered.

“Do you want me to give you a ride to the hospital?” he asked.  “I know I wouldn’t be in any state to drive if it was my little brother.”

Angel hesitated.  She didn’t know this guy.  But her tiny little compact wasn’t worth a damn on the roads after they’d gotten this much snow.  The plows hadn’t made it to her tiny little road yet.

“Please,” she said.  “Come on in while I grab what I need.”

“Thanks,” he said, following her into the tiny linoleum section that marked off the kitchen from the dining/living room and closing the door behind him.

Angel glanced back before going into her bedroom to find the guy standing right by the door, his eyes moving over the postcards she had plastered all over the walls.  She pushed the door closed behind her and quickly changed into a pair of jeans and regular socks.

She came back out and grabbed her backpack, pulling a box of granola bars off her reclaimed shelves and stuffing it in before adding her laptop and zipping it all up.  She pulled her boots on and grabbed her coat from where it hung beside the door.

“Ready when you are,” she said as she pulled on her coat and pulled her keys from the pocket.

She picked up her backpack as he opened the door.

“I’m Jeff, by the way,” the guys said as he stepped outside.

“Angel,” she replied.  “Thank you for helping my brother.”

“No problem,” Jeff said, leading her to the street where he’d left his pickup illegally parked in front of the next building.

He had to reach across the seat to unlock the passenger door before she could haul herself and her backpack up into the thing.  There were disadvantages to only being five feet tall.

Jeff turned the truck on right away, but waited for her to be settled with her bag at her feet and her seatbelt fastened before he pulled a three-point turn to get back down her narrow little road.

Angel was just glad the hospital was close.  She needed to know that Brian was okay.

Image Prompt 029 – Dunkeln Cathedral & Boone, NC

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It’s the Second Friday of the Month, so today is an Image Prompt day.

I’ve included two images to work from.  Pick one (or both if you’re feeling ambitious) and write something inspired by the image.  You can use something in the image, the feeling it invokes, or whatever the image makes you think of.

If you write a piece and end up posting it somewhere online, please link back to it here on a comment so we can all enjoy it too.

I’ll be posting my own piece next week.

2017-06-09 Image Prompt-029-1 - DunkelnCathedral Haggis Tour Scotland05-04-17 060

2017-06-09 Image Prompt-029-2 - Boone NC Snow07-01-09 013

News Flash: Editing Is Hard

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For the past several months, I’ve been working on the revisions of book two in the Sword and Shields series again.  I started drafting this book before Strong Fort Spathí (book one) was even released.  I’ve been working on the revisions for more than two years.

Editing is hard.

This draft has been through a few dozen rounds of editing and revising so far.  One round broke the story into two books.  A later round brought it back together into a single book.  This round has involved a brutal amount of cutting, re-writing, and re-drafting.

I’m making progress.  Work is getting done.  But it’s so slow compared to drafting that I often find myself getting discouraged.

It takes so much more time to take 150,000 words worth of rough draft and transform it into 60,000 slightly different words of rough draft.  Easily three or four times as long as it took me to write the original 150,000 words.  You have to cut some of your favorite scenes because they just don’t move the story along.  You have to restructure the time-line of the story and shuffle around who is where when.  You have to keep track of a million little details that you’ve changed one place and now have to change in six other places if those places make it through the next round of cuts.

I’m not trying to complain.  Writing is something I love, and since I also want to share that writing, the revision process is necessary.  But it’s not my favorite part of the process either.  That can make it harder to sit down to work on it and I find myself procrastinating, something I almost never do while I’m drafting.

I find myself using all the little motivational techniques that come up during NaNoWriMo.  I set smaller goals to reach and reward myself when I get there.  I set specific times when I’m going to work on the book.  I tell other people I’m doing it so they’ll ask how it’s going and make me feel guilty when I’m not making progress.  (And I don’t mean they literally make me feel guilty.  They’re always very supportive, but having to tell them I’m not making progress makes me feel guilty.)  I set an editing goal for Camp NaNoWriMo in April, too, and I’ll do it again in July.  Though July’s number may be a little more realistic since I didn’t win April Camp.

It seems to be working.  Progress is happening.  I got another 20k revised in May.  But I still feel like I’m working too slowly and not getting enough done.

How do you motivate yourself to work through the editing process (or any other task you don’t care for but understand you must do)?

Keeping the Faith

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It’s been a very troubling time for the US, and for the world really, this past year or so.  Not that the world and the country didn’t have plenty of problems before then, but for me, and for many others, things feel as if they have gotten much worse in recent months.

So today I wanted to talk a little bit about how I’ve been keeping the faith and what I mean by that.  Keeping the faith doesn’t have anything to do with religion the way I’m using it today.  Keeping the faith can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, so I want to lay out what I mean before I get into how I’m doing it right now.

I have faith in a lot of things in my life.  I have faith that electricity will keep flowing through the power grid.  I have faith that I’ll make it through the day.  I have faith in the institutions that I rely on every day.  I have faith that my husband, my family, and my friends will still be around and still care for me.  I have faith in my country.  So when I say, keeping the faith, I mean retaining that faith that the world will keep turning, things will keep happening, and that life will go on (mostly) uninterrupted.

It may be a little idealistic and simplistic, but I believe that the world is going to continue to get better, and when it looks like that isn’t how things are going, it can shake my faith in not just this belief, but a lot of other things as well, and that means I’m not doing so well at keeping the faith.

Here is how I combat that:

I read.

Yes, this is escapism.  Yes, when overdone escapism can be problematics, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad all the time.  I love to read about new places to visit, and interesting things in math, science, history and a variety of other topics.  I also love to read fiction.  I especially love anything with a triumphant or happy ending, or something that shows good triumphing over evil in any small way.  I read in almost all genres of fiction and a wide variety of non-fiction genres too.

I write.

Writing lets me escape as well, but it also gives me control.  When I’m writing, I have complete control over the setting, characters, and plot.  I say when something bad will happen and how the characters will work through it.  I have complete control of my own writing.  This gives me a space of comfort within a world where I have very little control.

I find the good, the beautiful, and the humorous.

Whether it’s a feel good story about a neighborhood banding together to help a neighbor who needs it, amazing pictures of nature or space, adorable cat pictures, or a hilarious comic, I go out seeking stories and imagery that promote positive feelings.  You can spot a bad night/day/hour in my life by the sudden spam of cute cat photos on my twitter account.  It doesn’t happen often, but a binge of cute cats can make me feel a bit better about whatever it is that’s making me lose faith at that moment.

I see a therapist.

And I’m not ashamed to admit it.  Everyone needs a little help sometimes.  If you have a family member, friend, or coworker who can stand in as sounding board and councilor to help you get back on track when things aren’t going your way, awesome.  I’m glad for you.  I have those people too, but sometimes talking to them can just mean more stress for them too and then what’s the point?  So I have a therapist.  Someone I can talk to about anything and know that it’s okay.  Whether it’s money troubles, worry about my husband, a work issue, or whatever.  Having a safe space that is completely judgement-free and confidential helps me work through tough places in my life.

I remind myself of what is going right in the world.

I look for the good things.  The doctors saving lives, the neighbors banding together to protect one another, the outpouring of support at airports when the travel ban was signed, and so many other smaller things.  Finding evidence that some things are going right when it feels like everything is going wrong can be really helpful.  These kinds of stories are uplifting and they help me remember why I have faith in the first place.

That’s how I keep the faith in my own life.  How do you buoy yourself up and help yourself keep the faith in your own life?

I hope everyone out there is keeping the faith in whatever ways they know best.

Image Prompt 028 Response – Protector

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I selected the image of a snowy Dundee, Scotland for my twenty-minute sprint this week and decided to bring back a character from my A to Z story from April while I was at it.

 

Protector

Uriel landed on the stoop of number seven.  Once again he’d been sent down to the world of men to find someone.  Glancing down at himself, he’d even been given the same physical form as his last trip.  That was unusual.  Michael had said it was four years later, as the human’s tracked it, then his last trip.

He’d been sent with very different clothing this time.  He had long, warm pants, a thick shirt, and a heavy jacket that hung down to his knees.  It was considerably colder than last time.  Uriel concentrated and took a brief step out of time so that he wouldn’t be visible to those moving about on the street.  Michael had told him that he should wait at the door to number seven until it’s occupant returned home.  Uriel thought it would be best to allow them to have a chance to go inside before Uriel knocked on the door rather than surprising them on their own stoop.

It was early evening, and the snow was falling gently through the air to settle over everything. Continue reading

Image Prompt 028 – Dundee, Scotland and Brookgreen Gardens, SC

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It’s the Second Friday of the Month, so today is an Image Prompt day.

I’ve included two images to work from.  Pick one (or both if you’re feeling ambitious) and write something inspired by the image.  You can use something in the image, the feeling it invokes, or whatever the image makes you think of.

If you write a piece and end up posting it somewhere online, please link back to it here on a comment so we can all enjoy it too.

I’ll be posting my own piece next week.

2017-05-12 Image Prompt028-1 - Dundee Scotland Snow05-02-23 002

2017-05-12 Image Prompt-028-2 - Brookgreen Gardens 2013-03-08 (296)