>Obsession and time

>I hear about this sort of thing a lot, especially on the NaNoWriMo forums. Someone will talk about a story that they’ve been writing for years, often five or more. You’ll hear about a book that took seven years to write, and now the writer is trying to find (unsuccessfully) representation for it. Justine Larbalestier wrote of one such who is so defensive about their magnum opus that they literally will NOT ever accept any criticism, positive or negative, regarding their work. They still have no representation.

Part of being a writer is learning that no matter how wonderful you think a scene, a character, or even an entire novel is… that other people can and probably will think differently. When you invest so much of your life and heart into one work, you literally become unable to separate yourself from it in any useful fashion. I see truly talented writers get lost in a sea of obsession over a single piece, a single character. I’ve seen good novels go in the toilet because of a single scene that detracted from the meaning, but the writer was too invested in it to cut it.

Being a writer, a successful one anyway, means being able to step back and look at your work objectively.

Not only that, if you spend all your time and effort on one tale, your other tales get lost by the wayside. When and if you finally get published, your agent and your publisher aren’t going to want you to stop there. They’ll want you to keep writing, because that’s what a career is: writing books. Plural. So if you’ve spent all your life writing one, you’re not going to really KNOW how to write the next.

All writers need distance from their work in order to really be able to improve it. I spent five years away from Nightblade’s Fury. That was probably longer than I should have gone, but my life was tumultuous. When I did finally pick it back up, I was able to read it with fresh eyes. If I couldn’t see where something was going, I knew that my readers certainly wouldn’t be able to. It gave me perspective, and I was able to whip out my red pen and brutalize it.

Here’s what my novel looked like when I picked it up after five years and started reading:

2576 x 1932 (807 kb)

Do you really think I would have been that brutal with it right after I was done with the first draft? I cut whole chapters… probably half the novel, lost to the red pen. But when the chaff was gone, I had wheat. And I had a product that I was actually not ashamed to show to others. It’s not perfect, and still needs a lot of work, but I think that the end result will be great, and salable. But I won’t stop there; in fact, even though I’m not done with this one, it’s out of my hands, and I’m already working on the next project. An object at rest tends to stay at rest. Thanks to my completion of Nightblade’s Fury, I’ve got motivation to really work on other things… I want a backlist of novels to submit. When Nightblade goes out to the agents? I’m going to keep writing. Because it may not get accepted, no matter how great I think it is. I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket.


>You know, it’s funny

>When you finish a novel, I mean really finish it to the point where no more changes can be made before you send it off to the printer (for the critique group, in my case… I don’t do that self-publishing crap), its a strange feeling. I’m done, and have been working frantically to BE done for the last week, but now, I really am. No more changes before handing it off to someone to be READ.

It’s scary, exhilarating, and now I’m feeling a little bereft. Now don’t get me wrong, I still have plenty of other projects to work on, including one I just started typing up a few minutes ago. It’s just that this one has been taking up so much of my mind that it’s weird to not be worrying over it.

And it also energizes me to want to finish ANOTHER project. It feels really good to finally be done.

I mean, I’ve written novels before, but never for someone else to critique, and this is a big step towards publication. It feels good to have a ‘finished’ product that I’m not too shy to hand to someone else to read!

Final word count: 60,546
Final Page Count: 220

It feels right, lengthwise. Lean and mean, with few frills. I like it. I was shooting for around 80k, but to make it larger at this point will be adding unnecessary bloat. It’s possible that post-critique it will make it to that size, but for now, I’m pleased.


>Nightblade draft 2 is complete. A very un-impressive 57k.

However, I’ve got some major theme reworking to do, and hopefully I can up that a good 20k. I’m about to go over it with a fine-toothed comb and give it some real depth.

Feels good to be finally in possession of a complete manuscript, though, however rough it may be. Here’s to the bubbly. And since I don’t have any champagne, I’ll break out a bottle of Smirnoff Triple Black.

I’ll save the champagne for the final manuscript.

>An excellent week

>It took some work to get over the hump, but I’m over it in a big way. Approximately 15,000 words since Monday, and that’s taking a break Tuesday.

The end is a little slow, and I’ve had to do some serious thinking on the overall theme. Somewhere, I lost it. Nightblade is a driven character, but her eventual redemption comes literally out of the blue… a genuine deus ex machina.

I have to do some buildup to that, so that it doesn’t come completely out of left field.

Current word count: 54,551. I think adding some depth to the plot and introducing one of the characters as a participant in the story sooner will help pad it to a more respectable word count.

>Soundtrack for HackerDragon

>I’ve got my soundtrack for Hacker Dragon. It’s an industrial techno compilation, mostly, and it serves my purposes perfectly. Edgy, a little discordant, even a little angry.

Tonight, once I’ve finished homework, (only two more weeks left in the quarter… looks like I’m going to manage all As again this go-round) I’m going to go in for a major push to do at least several pages on Nightblade.

In other news, this is an APB for all you writers out there: you should be terrified. Epiracy on the same level as the massive amounts of mp3 thefts has begun, and you should be aware of the phenomenon. Kristin from Pub Rants has more.

Please spread the word that this is unacceptable; encourage your friends and family NOT to download these ebooks; we writers exist on the fringe of livability; unlike musicians, a few downloads are DEFINITELY going to hurt us; every book downloaded is one not bought, one not paid for, which ultimately results in lower sales, and can continue until the publisher drops an author.

I encourage you to complain to esnips, and report every copyright-infringing ebook you find. If enough complaints are filed, maybe esnips will pull that category. At the very least, the more that are reported, that’ll keep their copyright department working overtime.

>Into the climax

>I’ve gotten past that awful chapter, and now am writing the climactic final confrontation. My heroes are making their way in the Bad Guy’s stronghold as we speak.

I’ve already gotten to make some neat settings. There’s a tower, but the Bad Guy isn’t in the highest tier of it. In fact, he’s under it.

I’ve introduced a third character who is unlikely to survive until the end of the book.

I need to get back to writing. πŸ™‚ Off to the notebook!

>Breaking the wall

>I finally managed to shatter the blockage. I won’t call it writer’s block, because I knew what I wanted to write, I just also knew it was going to be boring and suck horrific balls.

However, I broke out the good old fashioned way… a notebook and a pen. I wrote six full handwritten pages last night, a decent start on a very good action scene. If I can get past this chapter, I’ll be into the climax, and it’ll be time to kick ass and take names.

In other knews, I’ve also rediscovered an old tale I wrote god knows when… “Hacker Dragon”. It’s a sci-fantasy kind of thing, something vaguely reminiscent of the old RPG Shadowrun. I REALLY want to work on it, but I’m determined to finish Nightblade first. So I’ve decided that I’ll hurry up and do that so I can work on the second. I may try writing on Nightblade first, and use the second story as a carrot to work hard.

Sorry for the long time since the last post. I’ve been so caught up with schoolwork and trying to get past this block that I haven’t wanted to waste time with “can’t update, nothing’s changed” posts here. πŸ™‚