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Posts Tagged ‘Editing’

Some people are upset when fall days are not crisp and cool, befitting the colors on the trees. But days like this, with the sun shining down as though it were spring filled with hope rather than an upcoming, cold and dark winter, fill me with such joy. You cannot beat the feel of the sun coming down and gracing your skin with its presence, as though a constant reminder that God loves you, nor the slightly cool breeze that occasionally floats by to give you just enough relief to let you enjoy the sun all that much more. I could sit outside for hours on a day like this.

I am sitting here on the balcony now, re-reading Pat of Silver Bush and reveling in the descriptions of scenery and joy that the little girl has in her house, her fields, and days, whether summer or winter. There is a magic in the words that L.M. Montgomery weaves – a magic that I desperately would love to capture in my own writing. I suppose experienced writers would tell me it takes experience, while savvy writers would tell me such things don’t sell anymore. But if it still thrills my soul at 30, surely there are still some girls out there looking for books that weave magic.

Days like this I can almost believe I can do it myself. Days like this remind me of flower fairies, wood elves, and God’s love surrounding every one of us.

I went to a literary festival yesterday with workshops to improve your writing and the one on revision had me actually hand a stranger the first five pages of my book and ask him to critique it. What a stretch that was! Far more stretching than I think I would have been brave enough for, had I known ahead of time. But it ended up good! He, being completely unbiased and not a huge fan of Jane Austen and L.M. Montgomery type books, was able to offer straightforward and much needed advice. I finally understand what the books mean when you say you need to trust your reader. He pointed out the areas where I felt like I had to describe in detail what was happening because I was afraid the reader wouldn’t understand it. More than that, he explained I also had to trust myself – trust that I was conveying the information I needed to without explaining it in three different ways. It seriously was the most helpful advice I think I’ve ever received – which is reasonable since I almost never show anyone my writing. I also critiqued the first pages of his book, which didn’t need a lot of changes – we have probably as opposite styles as you could possibly think of, but it was good, because I could see his short and to the point sentences, where mine ramble on.

It was my first time going to such a thing, and it was really inspiring – and I got to hear from other people who actually are writers or trying to be writers, who know the difficulties and don’t just vaguely say, “Oh, I want to write a book too!” There is something inspiring about knowing you are not the only one having struggles. Speaking of which, all I need to struggle with right now is whether to sit in the sun and read or keep editing my book. I think I might read and just soak in the success of one of my all-time favorite authors in hopes it will inspire me for the upcoming National Novel Writing Month.

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Today – or rather, this afternoon – was spent at a coffee shop writing. A perfect thing to do on a holiday. Well, more research than writing. I finally reached that point in my book where it was hard to proceed without an actual timeline for the California/Oregon trail. So I spent hours trying to use my accumulated research to assemble at least a vague timeline for a normal wagon train that I could use – results are posted on Once Upon A Story, if you are interested.

The coffee shop is extremely full today, but one conversation caught my attention a little ways from me. A woman probably in her early forties, slim build, beautiful medium length brown hair, almond shaped eyes, working on a computer.  A man, likely early fifties (maybe – I’m terrible at telling age) came in and sat down. They struck up a brief conversation based on – something – I forget what. Then, obviously interested in talking with her more, he asked if she was working on a paper. “No, a book, actually.” I was instantly annoyed, because I apparently don’t think anyone deserves to work on a book but me (Maybe I’ve been working too long today).

The man, not unattractive but rather unremarkable, furthers my irritation by asking the obvious question – the question that prevents me from telling people that I am a writer – “Oh, really? What are you working on?”

She proceeds to tell him what it is about, and he then responds with the comment that I find even more exasperating than asking what a writer is working on. “I’m working on a book too!”

The end result of their conversation was a mutual agreement to read each other’s books, and a closing comment from her about how she hopes hers will be published someday and it is the first time she’s ever tried this.

Glowering, I returned to the book I’ve been working on and researching for three years, after brooding over the idea for the book for ten. What right has she, someone who has never tried this before, to not only be on her third round of editing her book, in hopes of publishing it, and talking to a complete stranger about it? Clearly it does not mean as much to her as it does to me. What right has she to call herself a writer? What right has she to even be in this coffee shop with me? But, as my random envious bouts always do, it ended in self-reflection. I know quite well I am only jealous because she not only has the self-confidence to speak about her book, but because she is working hard to completion, with no apparent (key word: apparent) doubts as to the end result. I am jealous because I, who claim to have been writing since 8 years old, have yet to be published, due to my own neglect. I should look at her as an inspiration, not an intruder.

Three hours later, my judgement upon her returns with a vengeance as I hear her, while I struggle over converting a passage with a lot of “telling” into a conversation, turn to the man with the smirkish smile and broad forehead and say, “I’m done!”

Done?? DONE??!! HOW CAN YOU BE DONE? 

And she, with her perfect skinny figure and shyly innocent face, embarks on a long conversation about it with him and his energetic, encouraging tones while I sit here and write about them to make myself feel better.

But seriously. I am almost there, I keep telling myself. Oh, I am only halfway through editing the book, but there are serious edits taking place. Whole chapters being overhauled. And that quote comes to mind.

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If you follow my blogger account (you know, that public facing one that technically friends and family can find if they look that I often wonder why I started at all?) then you already know what I am working on. But just in case you don’t, the title of this post will tell you. Because apparently I don’t know how to be mysterious.

I got this book on Writing the Intimate Character in hopes it would help with the issues I’ve been having in Picture of the Past, especially with Elizabeth. And it has really been amazing – the chapters are insightful and the exercises at the end of each chapter really force you to think about it and implement it. I almost feel ready to go back to editing my book itself with some confidence that I can create a better, more relatable character. Almost. Maybe I should finish reading the other book first. Either way, I have been quite pleased with the purchase.

So, I’ve said this before – but I would really like to be finished editing my book before NaNoWriMo. Maybe not publishing worthy done editing, but maybe someone reading it and telling me what they think worthy. It is amazing, isn’t it, how you can lose confidence in a thing you’ve been working on for years? The more I work on it the more useless and unentertaining I fear people will find it. So we’ll see what happens.

Life has been a little crazy, which makes it hard to make time for editing. I thought I learned from my self-imposed challenge that making 15 minutes to work on something isn’t that hard, but apparently I didn’t learn it enough because I am right back to my old habits of assuming I don’t have enough time to work on it at all. I should get one (or more) of my friends to hold me accountable or something.

For you Christians out there, we are going through some difficult personal life stuff, so prayers would be much appreciated at this time – prayers for courage and for health/healing.

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Yes, I did my 15 minutes. I used it (well, really, half an hour) to finish up a couple scenes I stopped in the middle of last week.

I have no profound things to say about my self-imposed 7 day challenge. Certainly nothing that hasn’t been said before by “real” writers and multiples of them. But I have to say, forcing myself to write for 15 minutes a day every day for 7 days has made a difference for me. In two specific ways:

1. I have rediscovered my story. Not only do I, for the first time in months, remember what I was trying to do with my book, but I feel like I am beginning to understand my characters more as well. And, for the first time since I wrote the first draft, I am thinking about my characters throughout the day and what they should be doing in their story. I am actually excited about getting back to editing it and – hopefully – finish soon!

2. This may be simple for you, but it is actually profound for me. It IS possible to write for 15 minutes a day. Because it was a challenge and because I committed to writing about it every day on the blog, I did not allow myself excuses. Even the one evening we didn’t go to bed until past midnight and writing my 15 minutes meant staying up until 1:00 on a weeknight, I still did it and, more importantly, I did not regret doing it. The only thing I regretted most evenings was not having more time to spend on it (and, indeed, there were nights I spent far more than 15 minutes).

This has been a great experience for me and I really hope I don’t let it fall by the wayside now that I no longer have an obligation (self-imposed, granted) to write about what I did every day.

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I know it is technically past midnight, but I am still totally counting this 15 minutes. We had guests over, which I personally think is a valid excuse. But, I did begin writing a scene that I defined as needing to be written! Which, then started to turn into another scene which went longer than anticipated, but that isn’t bad – it is helping me get to know my own characters a little more.

It is seeing the main character from another character’s point of view, which is always helpful for discovering his or her personality. A little cheesy, but I don’t really care since no one gets to see it but me. And that is all for now, since it IS a workday tomorrow.

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So, almost needless to say, I did not reach my goal of editing the entire book by the end of April. However, I did get done with the first part of it. Sent it off to my friend to read, as promised. And .  . . haven’t touched the book since. It is just SO MUCH WORK to edit a historical novel. I mean, how can one even possibly get that much information into one’s head to make sure it is accurate? It is super overwhelming.

I have worked on short stories a little. I even edited one and sent it to three magazines for publication. I know – the chances of it actually being published are like – nil. But – it is the first time I have ever sent anything to a REAL magazine, so it is a big step for me.

I am now trying to get over my fear of failure (as per usual) and start editing again. But part of me just wants to work on Ethrill instead because that is still being created. Do all writers struggle this much with actually finishing a product?

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Cruises and books

 

So, I am not going to use the excuse “busy” for not having written in awhile. Frankly, I simply kept forgetting and then, when I did remember, other things took priority. Which is how it should be, right? Life takes priority over internet?

We went on our (almost) annual cruise end of March and this time we took my parents with us. My parents have not been on a vacation together since their honeymoon, 32 years ago. They certainly have never been on a cruise. It was so much fun to watch their faces as we brought them around the ship and showed them all the different things they could do, see, and, especially, eat. It took my mom awhile to really realize she could order anything she wanted on the menu without paying for it. And after that, she drove the wait staff crazy. I was a little embarrassed, not going to lie, but totally worth it for her to have a dream vacation. My dad couldn’t leave the stateroom that much, due to his disability, but still said he had the best time of his life. My younger sister and her husband were with us as well, which was fun. All in all, however, it resulted in not much down time, cruise ship or not.  So I did not get nearly as much on my book done as I wished.

I have, however, gone on two work trips since, and worked steadily on editing PoP during those airplane rides. I would have gotten much further had I not decided to re-write most of the first part, which resulted in my currently only being on page 40 of about 120. The important thing, however, is that I am steadily working on it. I promised one of my friends, I would send her the edited portion on the 30th to review – I was supposed to send her the entire edited boo, but that is not going to happen. However, the promise did its job, which was to get me going on editing and now whenever I am at work, I find myself just contemplating how much I could be working on my book instead . . .

Speaking of work, I actually do have projects to get done, so will leave this update at that.

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