Category Archives: Editing
Whew! Summer blew by like a motorcycle driver really needing to pee. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t consider summer done yet. I mean, it’s only August 2nd, right? But my kiddo starts school really soon and that means one thing: I get my writing time back! (Okay, two things…I will also be depressed and miss him for the first week, and then get sick the second or third. So three things… Ah, parenthood – the art of one thing leading to another…) I’m trying hard to settle back into a normal routine, one that gives me ample time to percolate, but it’s tricky.
I attempted to release the first book in my new Reluctant Godmother series back at the beginning of July. And then for pretty much the whole of July. I just wasn’t ready to finish it. Or maybe I should say the book wasn’t ready… One of the two! Now that I’m back home and able to think with my professional brain instead of Summer Brain (“Let’s go to the beach! No, the park! Or just veg! Let’s do NOTHING! Wheeeeeee!”), I am better equipped to figure out the changes I wanted to make. Especially since I got back to my outline for the sequel.
Summer Brain is clearly not a solid decision-maker, ’cause it was really a no-brainer.
So now I have to finish up the major editing pass of the second half, figure out what to put where the removed subplot was, and then do a clean-up pass. It’s not common for me to change character names in my stories – for me, their names are part of who they are. But I changed…four? I think. Four names in this book. So now I have to do the resulting work to make sure there aren’t residual nicknames and such. (Speaking of which, I know I saw a wayward “Em” in there while reading to my sister on our cross-country trip to move her from the East Coast to the Rockies…there. Better.) This is the absolute messiest book I’ve ever written. No contest.
Anyway, point being that I have some work left (that I made more of for myself…), but the actual release date is close at hand! Maybe as soon as this weekend, if I stay motivated and don’t get weighed down by the insanity of living in a small three bedroom house with five other adults and two (soon to be three) kids 6 and under. Fun stuff.
I will update as soon as it goes live. I’m so excited!! Wheeeee! (Apparently Summer Brain hasn’t gone back into hibernation yet… 😀 )
Whew! THAT was WORK!
My novella is now in the hands of a few generous proofreaders. I would, of course, prefer to hire a professional to ensure lack of errors and correctness of grammatical minutiae, but I lack the funds. It’s not a great reason, I know. It is one of the beautiful aspects of indie publishing that I can return at a later date when I DO have funds to spruce it up a little. Just like eventually I’ll be updating the cover. They do this in traditional publishing, too. It’s called a new edition. But in e-pub, it can happen whenever I want it to, rather than waiting several years or for some Hollywood bigwig to turn it into a subpar movie. Yay!
Does this mean I’m wittingly putting out a subpar book? Er…maybe? I’m wittingly shoving it out into the world knowing it hasn’t had an editorial once-over. Does that make it subpar? Readers will have to be the judge. I have a solid grasp of mechanics and “One For All” is highly stylized (it is, in fact, the most stylistically difficult book I’ve ever written. Note to Self: More on that in another post). Hopefully my proofers will catch anything I missed, or I catch anything we all missed in my final pass. The unfortunate truth is that even professional editors miss things – the brain is funny that way. (Seen those memes that say, “If you can read this, you have a strong mind,” wherein most of the letters are wrong or numbers? Same principle. The brain is wired to read what’s familiar in the unfamiliar.) I’m about to embark on formatting, and that may introduce errors, too.
Anyway, this post wasn’t supposed to be about apologetics. What I really wanted to say was: “Go me!” Because it’s important to recognize one’s triumphs, especially in solitary businesses like writing and radiation suit testing. Granted, saying, “I have completed the entire story polish process!” isn’t nearly like saying, “20 suits and no cancer! Woohoo!” But, you know. A girl has to take her wins where she can, right?
I now understand the editing process. The agony. The ecstasy. The exhaustingly slow pace of picking over every.last.word. And then doing it again. Until it feels like your brain is bleeding out your ears. Or, in my case, like a fool decked out in bells and motley has taken up residence in its control center. I am by no means a master. Or even a journeywoman. I’m barely an apprentice newly introduced to the workshop. But I’m here, and that’s a huge step for a gifted slacker like me. (That’s the actual, culturally official term.) It may have taken me two months longer than anticipated, but it’s done.
“One For All,” the first installment of the Chronicles of the 13 Colonies, will be available by the end of the month. Hop over to my sci-fi site to sign up for the newsletter and get the official link and announcement when it goes live!
I didn’t really believe, back when I first made the decision to e-publish, that this was going to be an easy endeavor. The transition from writer to writer-publisher can’t be a swish of a wand and poof! I’m an author. No, I never had any illusions about the complexity of what I was about to do.
So when my cover artist (whom I love, as a person, because he’s an old friend of mine and just a downright good guy) discovered close to deadline that his art time got shoved into the trunk in favor of carseats, toys, and diaper bags, I understood. “No problem!” said I. “This is just a typical bump in the road. I got this.” Since I trusted my old friend to have me covered without knowing the mystical things that went on behind the scenes, I needed to research what cover art actually entailed. I carved out time to look into pricing, artists, similar styles; I tracked down pictures of objects and atmosphere, just in case they’d help; I interviewed indie artists, and discovered that as in all things, I have expensive taste. In other words, I did my homework. I found an artist running a sale that put her work stoutly in my (extremely limited) budget, and hired her. Progress through adversity! Go me!
And then I entered a hazy, fog-filled, trance-like state, wherein nothing made sense. My world collapsed around my ears in slow motion, only to rebuild in reverse. My beta readers ceased all communication. My proofreader’s plate overfloweth, thanks to my inability to stick to deadlines. My friends hated me. My family eyed me like a super-sensitive bob-omb. I might as well have been a rabid squirrel perpetually seeking phantom acorns, as much as I was doing right. Obviously I wasn’t cut out for a life of success, and I should just give up and never leave my house again. I would spend the rest of my days in a ratty tutu and grungy poet’s shirt, discussing the nuances of crystal- versus photon-powered weapons with a pair of bunny slippers named Murray and Fluffy Joe, ne’er to darken the doorstep of anyone ever again. Crazy, wild-eyed writers (much like crazy, wild-eyed scientists) should stay in their well-outfitted garages where they belong, to keep from infecting the normal hominid population.
Then I got some sleep. A lot of it. (Sleep deprivation is bad. In case you were wondering.)
A month past my self-assigned release date, I found my bootstraps, picked myself up, and sallied forth again. I solicited a few impartial critiques. One of my beta readers got back to me. Good news: my story didn’t suck like a black hole named Hoover! Bad news: It was time for the final edit. The polish pass. The elbow-deep, nit-picky, fine-toothed-comb work that takes a good story and tempers it into a well-written book.
I’ve never edited before.
Okay, so I’ve “edited” before. Macro-edits that shift this scene over there and improve the flow of story arc and makes sure the plotholes get filled in before someone breaks an ankle; those I’ve done. Big picture stuff I have in the bag. In other words, “revision” is my minion. But “edit”? I was that super obnoxious kid in class who dashed off a rough draft in thirty minutes, maybe glanced over it once to check for typos (but probably not), then played video games while everybody else worked their teenaged (and early-twenty-something) fingers to the bone and still got an A. When I actually did the homework, anyway. Sometimes, I didn’t do any work at all, and still managed to finish the semester with a B average. (Yeah, I know. I kind of hate me, too.) There’s value in all that busy work we’re given in high school and college, though. Its name is Discipline. Dedication in the Face of Utter Boredom. Putting in the Time Despite Personal Obstacles. In other words, the stuff that separates the dreamers from the doers. Deep down inside, I know this meticulous kind of micro-edit produces the difference between workable words and professional prose (accidental alliteration, ahoy!). It’s the difference between a “meh” and an “aah!” Since I want my work to be as professional and, well, as good as I can make it, this micro-edit is sort of critical.
Note: If you churned out your school papers and then read them over, made changes, sought opinions and made more changes, you need to know that you have some mad skills. I’m jealous of all those boring, soul-sucking hours you put in. Back then, I was proud of my ability to find the most efficient ratio of work to play that would ensure a passing grade with the least amount of effort. (Okay, I’m still proud of that ability. But we’ll talk deadly sins in another post.) Today, I want to take my teen self out back and whoop her slacker ass. (Except she could totally take me…so never mind that plan.)
I’m still not done editing my 50,000-word novella. Not because I am a black hole named Hoover, but because it’s hard. It’s hard, and I want to do it right. (And I have a near-preschooler at home trying to make peace with the potty. And his bed. And talking. And sharing. And…did I say editing is hard? Editing is a fluffy, scrumptious, chocolate cupcake with strawberry frosting compared to parenting.)
Basically, please don’t think I’m still Slackergirl, able to save half the city from total annihilation at a moment’s notice (because the other half of the city is too boring and crappy to save when there are alternate timelines to explore wherein a writer’s strike didn’t ruin Heroes after the first season).
The 13 Colonies are still forthcoming. They will launch. I just don’t know when that’s gonna be. This year, certainly. This season, most likely. Next month? Maybe.
Stay tuned, good people! It’ll be worth it.
(And after this first one, I should have enough practice to streamline the process in future. Or at least be able to better judge release dates. 😛 )
Am I the only one suddenly craving chocolate cupcakes…?