December 30, 2003
On the fence
Okay, I managed about 500 new words, the most I've done in over a month. In addition, I totally gutted the beginning of "The Brigand" and made it a lot more compact, and probably a little more interesting in the bargain. My hero is not quite as milquetoast as he started out, but he's still the shy, retiring type.
I'm all excited about this story again. :)
I haven't really written anything seriously since finishing The Exile's Daughter in October. I've outlined, I've futzed with things here and there, but nothing for real. I've had a hard time focusing on anything, finishing anything. So here I sit, ready to get back to work, and I'm afraid. And I have no idea what I'm afraid of.
Well that's not exactly true. I'm afraid of what every writer is afraid of. I'm afraid that the words aren't there, that the blank Word doc is just going to taunt me. I'm afraid that I don't want this badly enough, that I'll never manage more than a story credit or two here and there. But mostly, I'm afraid that I can't do it again, that the muse won't show up with the right scene idea or phrase or even the right punctuation mark at the right time.
But mostly, I'm afraid of finding out that my fears are well-founded.
Damn it, "The Brigand" is outlined. I still love the story idea. It's time to just sit down and hammer the words out and just get over the damn fence already. Whether I jump it gracefully or land on my face on the other side, either way I'm still over it.
December 15, 2003
I don't have a complete
I don't have a complete world. I only have the shreds of a second draft of book 1. But by golly, I've got a trilogy in my head. Book 3's main thrust came to me this afternoon. I think it'll work. Now I just need to finish #1.
It's not that I'm not working. It's that there's really no way to write about how I'm working. I feel like The Exile's Daughter is a cadaver I'm dissecting, bit by bit, to try and find out the cause of death. The only trick is, once I find all the causes, then I have to go back and heal the causes, put the body back together, and resuscitate it.
I keep working with the assumption that once I've written a few more novels, the editing process won't be quite so involved--but I could be wrong. One thing I DO want to do differently next time, however, is to actually FOCUS on worldbuilding more before writing so much of the draft. Now I'm faced with a handful of arbitrary decisions within the text and a very very very rough sketch of a world, and I need to fill in the blanks in such a way so that the handful of decisions still fit.
The hardest part is finally making the hard and firm "yes this is the way the world is" decisions that I put off the first time around. I'm kind of appalled at myself that I managed to write an entire novel about faeries without much of an idea of how they interact with the human world as a whole.
December 12, 2003
I discovered today that there are exactly 90 scenes in the first draft of The Exile's Daughter. I've been going through and essentially outlining the draft, one notecard per scene, forcing myself to break everything down and look at it piece by piece. Useful? Hell yes. Fun? Not so much.
I thought I was about two thirds through, since I finished card #44 today, and reached the end of Part 2 (of 3). Then I went through and made up a card for each remaining scene. Weirdly, Part 3 has as many scenes as Parts 1 and 2 put together, despite being a little over one third of the book. I'm not sure what that means, although I'm telling myself it means that the pace picks up in the final third, which is a good thing.
I'm at a slightly frustrating stage of this process. It's getting close to the time when I need to make some firm decisions on where I want to go with various aspects of the book (mostly timeline and worldbuilding issues), and these are decisions I've been avoiding all along. The more I do this, the more I realize how incredibly skeletal this draft is. I'm fully expecting draft #2 to be at least a third longer, if not more.
I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I'm so conscious of "The Process" while I'm doing this. I keep thinking I'm doing something wrong, or that I did things wrong in the first draft--when I didn't, not really. The first draft felt complete to me at the time, but now I understand that it was really almost an extended outline of sorts, a story draft. I got the plot down, some of the characterization, some of the emotion, but my main focus was the plot. Now I can go back in and layer the rest of the novel in.
I think it's shaking my perception of myself as a writer, because I never saw myself as the type of writer who did that. With my short stories, at least, the first drafts are flawed, but complete. This is not really 'complete' (yes,
A wise person told me not too long ago, "You already did the fun part, now you start the actual work." Sadly, it's true.
December 10, 2003
A month without an update! Jeez. Yeah, I officially spent a lot of time slacking last month. I found myself getting so discouraged by the short story submission process that I gave myself permission to take a break, so I am. Per my original intentions, I did start the editing process with The Exile's Daughter this month. It's going well. I'm learning a lot, and I'm analyzing the hell out of what I spent four months writing. The good news is, I like it, and the flaws are repairable. The bad news is, the flaws are repairable, which means I have some work ahead of me. ;)
Unless inspiration comes and hits me between the eyes with a hammer, I'm thinking short stories are on hold this month, as well as any other new projects.
Still here, still writing (well, editing anyway)
I think stopping short story submissions for a time was a good thing. I don't feel as stressed or as discouraged, and I'm spending some good time focusing on editing The Exile's Daughter. That said, I'm starting to eye my pile of stories still in need of a home, thinking about sending one or two out soon.
I'm still feeling my way through this whole editing process. Taking things in small chunks. Currently I'm going through the ms. scene by scene, finding issues with the timeline (which I was incredibly careless about) and POV (which I was weirdly distant about with some characters). I'm not to the rewriting stage yet. I'm still analyzing and finding out what needs fixing.
The good news is, I still like it, and I think the major flaws are very very repairable. I'm much more organized this time than I was when I tried to edit The Host, so there might actually BE a second draft of this one. I'm tempted to set a deadline for myself, but I think that will wait until I've actually started rewriting--which I think will begin perhaps around Christmas. (So, tentatively, a second draft finished by the end of January?)
There are some amusing issues going on, aside from the non-amusing issues of there being no clear timeline of events and not being inside the head of a few characters.
* Apparently no one in this novel wears clothes. With two exceptions, clothing never gets described. Ever. I am the Anti-Laurell K. Hamilton.
* Also, with few exceptions, the characters live and work in a background of vaguely painted backdrops, like in a bad high school play. So yeah, the setting needs some work.
* The last scene of Chapter 8 is officially and without a doubt the Exposition Scene from Hell. 4500 words (which is a freaking LONG scene) comprised of almost 100% exposition from Jack's mother. Just smack in the middle of the book. The funny thing is, I really enjoyed writing that scene. I did not, however, enjoy reading it.
Something else that occured to me the other day, and folks who are familiar with my roleplaying life will get this. I realized that Alex's story is very much like the story I wanted to tell with Aislinn. Father dead under mysterious circumstances, daughter left to deal with the legacy of her parents, and with a growing sense of her own power and place in the world... it all fits. Elizabeth, now that I look at her more closely, is so much like Jake (in some ways, at least) it's a little scary--which explains why her scenes have so much more of an emotional impact. I'm a little weirded out by this realization. I gotta stop stealing from myself.