Be A Writer They Said…

Hello, hello! Welcome to September. I suppose Thanksgiving and Christmas are some time next week with how fast time is moving. Before you know it, this year will be over and we’ll get to see what 2021 decides to throw at us. My hopes aren’t very high. But I’ve been in a blah mood anyway, so maybe I’m wrong and next year will be great. I’m in one of my burned out periods again. I haven’t worked on the novel in a while, so that’s not getting done this month. Oh well. I just pushed myself too hard too fast. Anyway, being a writer is exhausting. I thought I’d take this post as a chance to whine a bit. Sorry in advance.

Maybe, but maybe not.

And it’s true. Being a writer can be fun. Telling stories and reading and gathering with fellow writers to discuss writerly things can be amazing. But no one ever tells you that being a writer is so much more than writing. It’s the one thing I was disappointed about when it came to my MFA program: they glossed over everything included in being a professional writer that wasn’t writing or editing. I get it, it’s a writing program, but it would’ve been nice to be a little prepared for everything else. That one lecture on contracts and being told in our graduation semester that we needed to make a website didn’t quite cut it. I’m slowly figuring things out, though.

That website they randomly told me I had to make for my graduation semester? I had to design it myself because what beginning writer can afford a web designer? It has to be maintained and updated. And in order to make a website, you have to have content. Like a blog that you update weekly. And contact information. You can’t be a new anything nowadays without a social media presence. Those social media profiles need attention and updates just about every day if you want to keep your followers. It’s not exactly hard work, but all of this stuff takes up time. And if you’re popular and have tons of comments and emails to respond to, it could potentially get overwhelming. Sure, there are people you can hire for all that, but it costs money.

Yes, it can.

That’s not all. You also have to be an editor to your own work, a critic who can pull apart everyone else’s work and see what’s working and what isn’t, and a diligent student constantly improving their craft. After that, you have to sell your work and yourself to agents and publishers and readers alike. People have to like you to want to work with you, right? This usually entails submitting and querying lots of people who each have slightly different guidelines that you have to adhere to and getting told no by most of them. Then, if you’re lucky enough to make a deal, you have to pull on your lawyer pants and review every aspect of the contract to make sure everyone involved is getting a fair deal. It’s terrifying and exhausting and no one seems to want to talk about it all.

I know.

And to top it all off, there’s always someone pointing out that you should be actually writing, like everything else involved in being a writer doesn’t count as work. It’s enough to put anyone off writing for a while. But then you get the rare acceptance or encouraging note from a complete stranger or something like that and it’s all worth it again. So yeah, being a writer is exhausting and sometimes it’s fun, but it’s so much more than just writing. Be warned, then become a writer. It’ll be fun.

As always, feel free to leave your thoughts or questions or comments here or on my social media pages!

Revision Prep: The Initial Read-Through

Howdy, howdy!  I recently started the initial read-through of LR (code name for novel attempt 2, draft 1) in preparation for beginning the editing process.  Yes, I know I should’ve done that a couple of months ago, but I didn’t.  So, here we are.  This is the part of revision where I haven’t looked at the story in a while (about six months for this one), so I’m reading it mostly in reader mode.  I have to remind myself that this is not the time for my inner editor to nag at every little thing, it’s time to just enjoy the story and see how it goes.  However, there are things I keep on the look out for in the back of my mind while I’m reading.  That’s what I want to ramble about today: the five things I look for during this read-through.

Slide2
The sooner I acknowledge it’s shitty, the easier it is to tune out my inner editor until I need her.

1. Gut reactions.  What makes me laugh?  What makes me want to cry?  What do I glance over?  I’m looking to see what parts of the story elicit emotional reactions and which parts are blah.  I want to keep the former (if possible) and tweak or get rid of the latter.  Also, I want to know if I still enjoy the story as much as I did when I wrote it.  I’m only like six chapters into LR as a reader, but I’m actually super surprised at how much I love it.  Yeah, it’s a shitty first draft, but the characters and story still really amuse me.  It makes me think I’m doing something wrong, because I feel like I’m supposed to hate it at this point.

2. Continuity errors.  Have I randomly changed someone’s name?  Did I move an entire building somewhere else halfway through?  Was someone right handed and suddenly they’re left handed?  Stupid things like that.  Some are glaringly obvious while others will only be noticed by a really close reading.  I already know my main character randomly goes from fourteen to seventeen (because fourteen was too creepily young for this particular story).  One of my “bad guys” changes her race halfway through because I originally couldn’t decide what group of shifters she belonged to, but then decided on one that was completely different from how I imagined her in the beginning.  And of course there are a bunch of little things as well.

plot-holes-plot-holes-everywhere
I feel like I’ve used this before, but it’s appropriate.

3. Plot holes.  Have I left any threads undone?  Did I randomly start something in the middle with no lead up to it?  Is what the character’s doing feasible in the world I created?  Is it something they actually would do?  These are definitely things I have to make notes about so I can fix them or change them or remove them entirely.  There’s this thing with a fox in the first chapter of LR and by chapter two, it’s been completely forgotten.  I have no idea where that was going, but if I don’t figure it out by the end of this read-through, I either need to cut it or make something up.  These are important changes for me to consider as I read.

4. Useless characters.  Do I have any characters who are just there to do one thing and then they disappear?  Can someone more pertinent to the story do the thing?  Could that character become someone important?  I know most books have at least a couple of superfluous characters, but I like to weed them out if I can.  In LR, there’s the principal’s secretary whose sole job seems to be giving my main character his late slips for class.  I’m debating whether or not to combine her with another character or just giving her a bigger role in the next book.  Then again, I might keep her as she is because that’s life.  Someone has to pass out the tardy slips.

Lucifer1
Went looking for typo demon pictures and got distracted by manga demons.  It’s Lucifer from Kaori Yuki’s Angel Sanctuary.

5. Blatant typos and grammatical errors.  These aren’t things I actually look for in this read-through, but if they pop out at me, I either make a note or fix them.  I try to save this stuff for later read-throughs, though.

What about you?  Do you have anything you look for when you’re getting reacquainted with stories you want to revise?  Feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

Revision: Why So Serious?

Welcome, new and old visitors!  I noticed that I have a few strangers stalking me, so first things first… It’s nice to meet you!  Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy day to check out my ramblings.

giphy

On to today’s topic of choice, revising (also known as majorly editing your own work).  I know a lot of people who seriously despise the whole revision process.  I used to be one of them.  It was tedious and boring and the words we write should be perfect the first time around, right?  Wrong!  Once I actually started editing my work for more than spelling and grammar (in case you haven’t noticed, I use revising and editing interchangeably since I do both at the same time.  See the chart below for the difference), I realized that it was really only tedious and boring in spots because the story itself was bogged down or too light in those spots.  In other words, the original writing wasn’t perfect, thus revisions were needed.  It’s a vicious cycle, I know.

fb93273bb56ed0008508b3cfbf224e85

Over the last couple of years, I’ve actually learned to enjoy revising my work.  Not just because I know everything will be better for it, but because it can be fun.  The key is to not take it so serious.  Sometimes, it will take multiple revisions to mold a story or poem or whatever into something you deem presentable.  That’s okay!  So, here are the top three reasons I like revising.

1.  The story is most likely done, so there’s no pressure to find an ending!  You’ve got one.  Now, it’s about polishing the words on the page to make everything make sense.  You already know where the story’s going, you just have to fill in the plotholes and give the reader a smooth ride.

g1369835064834171706

2.  Nothing is set in stone!  You can make all the changes you want.  If you don’t like a change you made, change it back.  See a major flaw?  Guess what!  Revision is your chance to fix it.  Don’t like that adjective?  Find a new one.  Think a character needs to be removed?  Do it.  This is your chance to fix all the things, big and small.

3.  Lastly, you have a chance to look objectively at your work.  I know that sounds like utter BS to most writers, because we’re so invested in our characters’ lives during the writing process that they become special to us.  However, it’s important to get some distance, then honestly evaluate your own writing.  It not only makes for a better story, but if we recognize our weaknesses, it makes handling criticism a whole lot easier.  You don’t want to be like this cat.

Funny-pictures-cat-threatens-to-edit-your-face

As much as I have come to like the revision process, I want to conclude with a word of caution.  I know I said not to take the process too seriously, but you also can’t take the end result too serious.  We all strive for perfection (which is great and all), but don’t let it stop you from getting your work out there.  I’m sorry to say that there will always be someone who doesn’t like your writing.  No matter how much you change, it’s not going to please everyone.  As long as you like it, it doesn’t have to be perfect.  Imperfection is a wonderful thing!  It makes it real.