The home stretch

I hesitate in posting this, simply because I have proven myself inept at gauging the time it takes me to finish any writing project! Even short stories, ones which I think will be completed in just a quick flash. No, they take months extra for no good reason. But, nevertheless, despite a novel being even more unpredictable, I think I’m on the final leg of this novel’s journey – before things really get underway for The Damning Moths.

There’s a certain sense of complication in thinking I’m nearly at the end. Of course, the inevitable desire to rush through, which is absolutely not allowed! After all this, rushing the end would be unforgivable! So I must consciously maintain the same critical mind I’ve had through the rest of these final edits. At the same time, my fast read-through of these last chapters feel like they’re pretty solid. I made a lot of notes about certain plot threads which need to be tidied, but other than that? Well, the ending is just a lot more certain of itself than the beginning was in a lot of ways. We’ll blame it on all the action; it changes the pace, the story evolves into something else. And honestly, by the time I was writing the end, I had all the practice of writing the beginning, going at it for weeks solid. That helps. Truly.

So I will do what is necessary, and finish this novel, and then it will be read for the last time by my copyeditor to make sure I fixed the problems. We’re coming to the hard part. The “everything after”. I feel familiar enough with writing that the writing itself is just this fun thing I do. I sit and have conversations with fictional people. I record what they think and do in challenging situations. I get to read my work and enjoy where it takes me and feel vicious glee and longing and sadness and laughter in all the right places. What comes next, though, that’s all new to me. Publishing is still the big scary beyond.

All the more reason for me to get through it, do what I must, then return to the comforts of writing book two.

While I know most of my blogging buddies will have already seen this, because I am absurdly late to share things, I must reiterate the many people before me who’ve said watch Neil Gaiman give a speech to university graduates. Because Neil Gaiman is amazing. So please, if you haven’t already, watch:

~A

Are We There Yet?

I feel like the stereotypical child in the backseat of the car, whining incessantly at the people in control. Of course, when I actually was much younger and we drove around a lot, I didn’t have the same sense of impatience displayed by others. Driving places is neat, and I was capable of entertaining myself. For instance, counting as high as I could. With a tenacious child enthused about a challenge, that will pass the time on a long trip.

But now I’m older, and my proverbial car ride is the endless sense of completing a novel. I’m impatient. I look at the days flying by, I wonder how I can still possibly be working on the same project. The Damning Moths approaches a full year since beginning, June 22nd. Minor interruptions are both embraced and repelled. Something new! Something distracting! Oh, heavens, something to lengthen the time it’s already taken me to get this far.

I’m inspired by those who have been releasing books for a number of years and have the practice down to an art. They write fast, edit fast, move on, release another, start again. I know it’s an experience thing; I’ll get to that point some day. I’m looking forward to it like no one’s business. But I can’t help those feelings of wanting to already be at that stage, to be so sure-footed in my work.

I don’t really second-guess myself too much. There are some instances where I’m a victim of my own negativity, of course, but I still persevere. It’s just the length of time. Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Why aren’t we there yet?

On one hand, it seems like the last few chapters shouldn’t take me much longer. I’m nearly at the end. I can almost reach out and brush my fingertips against the finish line. But then there’s the flipside, where it’s taken me this long to reach the point I have. I wonder if life will continue to be so busy that I only get stolen moments to focus on my story.

Of course, it won’t end there! The cover is coming along nicely, the ISBNs are organised, and I have a ready stack of resources at hand for all the other little in-between bits which come with releasing a novel. So, yes, I’m eager to be done, but it will just take on a whole new form once the book is out in the world. I guess, in that regard, we’re never really “there yet”, it’s all just another phase of being an author.

~A

Look at me, I do stuff!

Wow, okay. Another week of forgetting to blog. I’m sorry! I don’t mean to get so caught up in irresponsibility!

I have been hard at work, several types of work no less. I had to submit final edits on “Harvest”, which went rather well (at least, in my mind!). The only thing I have to show for much of my time spent (aside from, you know, a pay check and food in my fridge, that sort of thing) is a great new bio and a very, very slick header for The Damning Moths. The Husband took my concept work and made it AWESOME. Yes!


Clicky-click for full size!

So, this is used on the Facebook Page for The Damning Moths, found here: The Damning Moths | Facebook
And the official website, found here: The Damning Moths
The bio is also on the website, right there under “The Author”. Fancy.

Oh yeah. Did I mention at any point the books have an official website? Haha. See above. I’ve been gloriously lazy about getting the description finalised and put on the site, so you’ll have to forgive the lack of content.

Beside that, it’s all pretty slow going. Whenever I think I’m on a roll, I look at the overall progress and am hit with a “WHAAAAT?” moment. Because things like, I’ll have been editing for hours, and added over 2,000 words to the book, but only progressed through a third of the chapter I had intended on finishing. Don’t get me wrong, everything’s awesome, but the one thing I stuggle most with when editing is guaging progress.

There’s no definitive word count to judge yourself on. Editing isn’t all equal value. Working through a really tough scene might take twice as long as just whipping through a perfectly acceptable section of the manuscript. Man, final edits are trouble. Worth it, but trouble all the same.

~A

Mind maps, how I love thee

FreeMind saved my sanity.

I had been turning the thought over in my head for ages: how could I personally organise all of my series ideas into something cohesive? I have a very expansive world built, I have a large over-arcing plot in place, and I have a cast of characters as long as my arm. But I had not been able to lay it all out neatly and look it over.

I’ve tried index cards. They only work for me in very select situations. For instance, indexing a single-sentence summary of each scene through my finished draft to find dead zones, areas where no particular action occurred. If three scenes in a row turn out to be discussion or travelling, I can see that right at a glance and spice it up. Change where that information is shared. Throw in a different scene between them.

I have tried various programs designed to be used to track plots and outlines. Most of the writer/story programs drive me to distraction. I want simplicity, yet I need a lot of control. Not much software is designed for basic use with a high degree of customisable features. The software designers think they’ve stumbled across a great way to do this one thing, and it won’t be the one way I’m looking for. I know I’m picky, so if it doesn’t work, I shrug and move on.

I have even attempted to write things out on large sheets of paper, but there’s no way I can keep something like that tidy. Besides, who has the time? I could be drawing out huge diagrams, or I could be writing! Or… crocheting. A lot.

Eventually, I remembered an article I read back when I first discovered my favourite novel-writing software, yWriter. My love for yWriter is all kinds of special, but that’s not what helped me organise the quagmire of my chaotic plot, characters, and various world events. Simon Haynes (author, and programmer of yWriter) wrote about his own methods, in Plotting a Novel.

When I first found that article, I used FreeMind for a project, then promptly forgot about the program. When I went back to Simon’s page, it was a lightbulb moment; of course, why wasn’t I using FreeMind? I already knew how well it worked for me, using a system of organisation very similar to the one Simon discusses (with examples!) in his article.

Needless to say, I went ahead and fired up FreeMind right away. After inputting just a little fragment of the important information for The Damning Moths, I felt a lightening from my mind. It was getting all laid out. Nice and neat. Right where I could see it and feel like I’m not going to miss anything. Mind maps are great.

~A

One Hundred

According to my WordPress statistics, this is my 100th post! Hooray, happy one hundred!

I’ll admit, I’m pretty impressed with myself. Blogging and journaling really never struck me as something to do, but that was before I met so many awesome blogging buddies. No, really. It’s people like YOU who have convinced me to go ahead with this all the way back in May 2011. Wow, that also means I’m only three months away from a full year at this.

Thinking back over these hundred posts, I’ve shared with you my first publication acceptance, the death of my cat, Chichiri. Insights into writing and the industry surrounding it, as well as my own take on being an author. I’ve met amazing people and participated in their own blogs, sharing the ups and downs of their life-path. I’ve shown you my yarn crafts and new books from other writers. I’ve written a couple of guest blog posts for others, and followed links to fantastic new places around the internets. Truly, I wouldn’t take back my time blogging; I recognise all too clearly the amazing opportunities it’s presented and the people I’ve come into contact with who mean so much to me.

I know plenty of people blog solely for themselves; as some kind of expression or outlet. For me, this wouldn’t be the same without having people to share it with. I talk to myself enough over the course of writing books (they are character conversations! Honest!), so the part which makes this special is knowing that you’re here, you’re taking part in the journey.

Which is to say, of course, we’re moving forward! And what better blog to announce this than my 100th?

My debut novel, The Damning Moths will be published soon! Oh, yes. It’s happening. My giddiness is barely contained.

I’ve still got a ways to go with finalising the project, so I’m still on the journey. I don’t think you really get off this train unless you either quit writing or move onto the afterlife, so the statement is defeated by the sheer knowledge of work stretching ever onward. This book. Next book. The ones after. Nevertheless, you might recognise the title acronym, TDM, as something I’ve been working on (slaving over!) kind of obsessively. For this single project, there’s the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel to lure me through the final stretch. I’m on the right track. We’re coming up to the next stop. Other such railroad-related metaphors!

Thank you for sharing everything to this point. Thanks for reading, and commenting, and lurking. More than anything, thank you for your friendship and support.

~A