On Indecision and Dithering

I’ve not been hitting the word count as much as I ought lately, because frankly I’m spending too much time playing video games.

I’m in a weird patch where on the one hand, in a game my goal is clear and the path to it is laid out before me (even when difficult or perplexing), and on the other hand my goal when writing is more along the lines of “Um, I dunno. Make words happen?”

Bluntly, it’s much easier to get the fix of ‘feel good’ from games than it is from writing, because writing is work, and I already work fifty hours a week at a job.

Not that that’s a very good excuse, I’ve been doing that for years now and I knew that it would be a slow burn to getting good at writing. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve even gotten that first match lit though.

Part of my reluctance comes from a place of fear that some of the topics coming up in this book are beyond my experience, and will likely forever be so. There’s more than a little fear of being called out as fake, or even being repudiated because these characters face a situation I’ll never have to look at as if it could happen to myself.

But, I think it’s an interesting situation and it came out of my fucked up brain, so my options are to ignore it and let it die and find some safer, less interesting thing to create or to struggle through my own insecurities on it and get the words down.

To be frank, it seems presumptive on my part that I should even worry about it given the (un)likelihood of anyone ever actually paying money to read it, which is an entirely different blog post altogether.

I guess the only real answer is to push forward and get it done. And if it sucks, then it’ll have earned its suckage. But it’ll be done and I’ll have a new fucked up situation to write about.

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Finish your shit, it’s good for you.

I’m going to take a moment to drop knowledge while my monkeys are going through their bedtime routine. Granted, I don’t have that much knowledge to drop, so this should be blessedly brief.

Allow me to bend your ear (or perhaps your eye, as this blog is a visual medium. Ew, eye bending? Nevermind) for a moment about the importance of finishing your project. I’m going to assume that you’re also a writer if you’re reading this, though I suspect the advice I will give is applicable to just about anything you deem worthy of your pitifully small allotment of time here on earth.

Finishing your story – whether it’s a short story, novelette, full length book, or Robert Jordanesque mothereffing doorstop – is probably the most important thing you can do as a writer, or any kind of artist for that matter. Going all the way, to THE END will teach you more about what you do well and do shitty than an infinite number of first chapter revisions or brand new sparkly idea bursts. Not only that, but actually finishing a thing will boost your confidence in a way that no amount of prep work or pep talking can. Crossing the finish line once – even if you only make the last feet in a bleeding, wheezing, gurgling froth of coffee tinged spittle – means you can fucking do it. And if you can do it once, then you can learn to do it again, and better.

There is no substitute for finishing. Finishing once is practice. And if you’re anything like me, you need all the goddamn practice you can get.

First Form Rejection!

Well, the title says it all.  I’m not in the least bit bummed about it – they are part of the game.  When you’ve been as plugged into writerly culture (if such a phrase is even the correct term for it) as I have been you understand that rejections are part and parcel of the whole deal.  If you’re not getting rejections you’re not sending out work. Gotta go through a lot of ‘No’s to get your ‘Yes’.  And so on, etc.

So the first thing I did was send out some more queries. To be honest I’ve no great expectations for this first novel. I don’t really think it’ll ever see the light of day (from a publisher anyway) but I wrote the thing so I’ll be damned if I’m not going to submit it to hell and back before trunking it.  I did the work, the least I can do is send it out into the world and see if anyone will give me money for it.

In other news (which is to say not really news at all) I’ve been slowly poking at my new WIP, seeing what pokes back and what fades away into the nether reaches of my brain.  Hopefully I will have an outline to work from ready in a month or two, and in the meantime I’m still waiting for feedback from some beta readers on Thief of Souls.

As an aside, if you’re a writer and not getting everything you can from the internet there are a few things I suggest.

-Listen to podcasts about writing. Two of my favorites are Writing Excuses and I Should be Writing.  You probably have a commute of some kind, or at the very least 20-30 minutes a week somewhere. It will do you good. Trust me.

-Check out Absolute Write.  The forums are a veritable treasure trove of information on everything from plotting to prose to agents and submitting. I’ve had nothing but good experiences there and the people have always been willing to help newbies.  That being said, as with any forum read the FAQ first.  Many things are covered and have handy links. It’s worth the time to peruse.

I can’t think of anything else pertinent to say so with that I will sign off!

Got to spend the time somehow.

So I’ve been waiting patiently while my alpha readers go about their business reading because they have lives and responsibilities beyond being my guinea pigs. This is a fact I understand and respect. In the meantime I’ve puttered with some maps (two of which I posted here for the world to see) and some new cover art mock ups.

I’m not entirely unfamiliar with composition and art in general, but playing with this stuff in the digital realm is an entirely new venture for me. There is a steep learning curve associated with such, at least for me.  But the freedom it gives you to play around and switch things up is very cool and opens all kinds of options you’d have to work much harder to use in traditional painting or drawing.

I’ve got a new map to show off, a localized bit of geography for my world with labels for Greyrock and the other cities mentioned in the text.

Greyrock

I’ve also been playing around with some cover art mock ups.  None of this is terribly likely to see the light of day in a final published version of the book (fingers crossed on that one) but they are some ideas I had. You can see the progression of how I’ve envisioned it.

cover01

cover04cover05

There’s not really a whole lot else to say at this point, beside that I’m antsy to get back into the prose and start reshaping things.  I could always start on the outline for the next one I suppose… right?

So, I finished the first draft.

A few days ago I wrapped up my first draft of Thief of Souls at about 89,000 words. When I started this endeavor I had no real idea of how long it would take me to get this far, but I’m beginning to realize how much longer it’s going to be before I have a manuscript I’d be OK with starting to shop around.

It’s been eleven months since last September when I finished my outline – most of which even made it to the page – and a little quick math puts me at a pace of about 8090 words a month, or about 270 words a day. Granted, I certainly didn’t write every day. I don’t know what I think of those numbers, other than that while carrying three kids and a fiance and a full time job it’s a bit of a miracle that I finished anything.

So, once I finished my first draft I set it aside – as you do – to let my brain work on other stuff for a little while. I’ve got quite a bit of world building that I know needs to get done in order to flesh out some of the fuzzy sections in my manuscript and to that end I went very literally to building the world of Thief of Souls with maps.

I don’t know that either of these will actually get used in whatever format I eventually publish this thing, be it e-book or traditional ink and paper, but they were fun to put together and forced me to create some specifics for the world I’m writing in.

Rothspar Map sepia Rothspar Map color

I haven’t placed important cities or boundaries yet, but I’ve got them figured out for the most part. I’m sure I’ll have to go back to the text and fix where I reference some places as being; it’s all part of the Frankenstein’s monster of creating something like this.

All that having been said, I’m eager to get into editing. I’ve given the manuscript to my alpha readers with hopes of finding things I hadn’t noticed I’d done so that I’ll have a good barometer for plot and content revision. After that I anticipate another round of editing for the actual prose.

That’s about all the updating I have for now, got to get back to it.

 

 

50k.

Yep, skipped right over any possible Warhammer jokes and went to 50,000 words. I don’t have much to say about it really, beyond that I felt very little as the wordcount tipped over last night.  I got a very tiny jolt of “Oh, that happened.  I guess that’s a thing that I did.” and then it was gone.

Granted, that particular number was never the intended finish line, and only serves as the loosest basis of the idea of a halfway point.  There’s still a lot of mountain to climb, after all.

So, looking onward from this point what have I got left to do?  I’ve moved all of my players onto trajectories that will lead to THE END in one way or another, and that is actually kind of exciting.  I’m still skeptical about reaching 100,000 words with this draft though.  Not that missing that target would be the end of the world, I could end up with a tighter and more concise 90,000 word novel and I suppose I’d be just fine with that.

Alas, I think my brain is starting to get ahead of me.  Reality check, I’m still only halfway through a first draft.  I’ve still thousands of words to go, and revisions and rewrites on top of that.  Back to it, I reckon.

 

7 Days, 7k

Well I’m seven days into my rush to the end and I’m seven thousand words closer to it.  It’s forced me to think a bit outside of my outline and start making some decisions I’ve been putting off.

The biggest problem with my outline is that while the first 3rd of the book is pretty detailed, it gets progressively less so the deeper I get.  The second act is largely hashed out, but things are popping up that I hadn’t considered early on and I’ve been finding myself scrambling to address them in the best way possible.

Due to this issue I’m finding myself about 60% through my outline and only sitting at about 47000 words.  Which doesn’t exactly work out if you’re planning a 100,000 word novel.  So, I’m getting creative (as creative types are wont to do) and finding things I can expand upon, plotlines I can further develop, characters I can play with a bit more, to fill out what I’ve been shooting for.

After all, plot is about characters overcoming interesting problems in interesting ways.   So when all else fails give the character more problems to deal with.