Tag Archive: The Ailing Tree

I should be posting something else, but I know my friend will understand the delay and entirely forgive me, since we would both agree that this is more important.  Amazingly, it’s done.  The edit of the second draft of Dark Mirror is complete. In just a day over a month, I wrote an entire draft, then edited said draft.  Why don’t I feel more tired from this feat?  Oh, right, adrenaline and hot chocolate.  I rewrote the last two chapters almost completely, working in a fresh file and only copying over those bits that could be used with the new ideas, but even that is done.  It’s also a bit longer.  And by a bit, I mean about 8k longer, now weighing in at a not-mind-blowing 81,773 words. Trust me, that’s still pretty short by Fantasy standards.

Yes, I did end up incorporating those tugs and whispers I mentioned before.  It felt like pure laziness not to at least mentally explore the implications of doing so, and when I did, I found that it made the chapter far better, the story as a whole smoother and set up something I’m going to need later, when I go to write Possession and The Nine.  It didn’t take as much extra work as I had feared either, though it did forced the above mentioned rewrites, but even that turned out better, though I’m not entirely happy with the final chapter yet, I think.  I guess I just don’t have a lot of practice at endings.  We’ll see.  It goes in a virtual drawer now for however long I can leave it or a few days, whichever comes first (long time readers of this blog are probably sniggering at that, knowing which is more likely), after which I will read it again all the way through with no editing (though I might stop just long enough to fix actual typos if there are any left) and see what I think, and if I think the new title I’m contemplating for it fits.  I already know it fits better than DM, but that’s like saying a size 10 shoe fits better than a size 12 when your feet are an 8.  It’s an improvement but it still won’t stay on.  That said, I’m at the point where any title would make me happier than DM.

I’m amazed to have made it through again.  And I still like it.  Do I think I can do better?  Sure.  Do I think that there’s still room for me to grow as a writer, both in expression and how I grow my story and characters? Absolutely.  But I think back to the first draft of this, and then even further back to the last novel idea I tried to write,  and I can see the progression, the growth and improvement I’ve undergone and it makes me unbelievably happy to see it, because it means I’m on the right track.  I’m fairly confident that, after reading it through in (probably not) a few days, I’ll be ready to send it out for the opinions of others.  Those people will be warned that it’s on the way once their copies are in the mail though (when it’s too late for me to chicken out).  And then it will be time for another project to thoroughly distract myself and keep me busy while I try desperately not to pester them for word on their opinions.  I really try not to make a nuisance of myself to people who like me and are doing me a huge favour with the gift of their time, but remember what I’ve said before.  I’m not patient.  Never have been, and there’s no point in me trying to pretend.  The involved parties know better already anyhow.

So, new project.  Part of me deeply feels that I should work on Possession, especially since I already have several fairly detailed entries in the outline for that one and I’m getting to have a pretty good idea of where I need to go with it, though the ending still isn’t entirely in focus.  The only problem is that I’m a bit concerned regarding doing that and then having something seriously change once I get comments back on DM and having to redo all that work.  I’d do it (after me throwing out the first draft of DM, you know I will), but if I can avoid it…  And then Helix and his girlfriend start shouting, and I have to tell you, a guy in a leather jacket with a street bike who can do magic is pretty hard to resist. It’s mostly between the two of them, because I’m not sure if I’m ready to face The Ailing Tree, as much as I really want to take a crack at Lorah and Arcalyus.  I really do want to write that one, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a slightly ambitious project for me (long story, not going into it here), and I’m not sure I’m ready for it.  Funny thing is, I have a way more ambitious project that I’m frankly scared of, which currently goes, as a whole, under the code name Generational.  Em and SJ might remember me talking VERY briefly about it and the 5 books it’ll take to write it.  Like I said, highly ambitious, but not really on my radar yet.  Need better skills first and a lot more thought.  Worse, another old idea is knocking on my head, my Tuatha project, but that one will probably take some actual research (agh).  Too many choices for this writer.   Generational entirely aside, any suggestions?

Oh, and I haven’t forgotten that I promised a pic with my next post (which didn’t happen because the next one was an award post). As I really should have gotten off my lazy ass and done one last time, no matter how tired I was, I shall make up to you all by posting two today. 🙂  And on that note, I bid you adieu and good night.  This writer needs to rest her brains (what she has left of them).


I Think I Found My Brevity

So, this is the official announcement.  I did it, the second draft of Dark Mirror is finished.  It’s a lot shorter than I expected.  And by a lot, I mean it’s 73,264 words, while I had thought it would be at least 100k.  I didn’t know I could write a whole story in less than 100k.

For years I’ve known that I tend to, shall we say, over-write a bit on my stories, which tends to bloat word counts beyond what they should be.  This time I tried something different.  I didn’t describe everything down to the last fold of cloth or breath.  It finally occurred to me that it might be unnecessary.  The average reader has a fairly vivid imagination and so I can leave some of the basic stuff to that imagination.  Describing just what was significant or different from normal is a new thing for me, but somewhat liberating.  We’ll have to see what my test readers say when I get this to them.  That said, it gave me more room to write the story.  As much as I’d like to just let a story run as many words as it needs, I never stop being aware that I would like to sell my stories at some point, that this is a business and with that comes certain expectations.

I’m still pondering how I want to go about publishing this, when it’s ready at least, and I’m very torn.  Part of me very much wants to go with traditional publishing, for the support system you’re supposed to get, for the physical object you eventually get, the broader distribution, all that.  And (this is going to sound perhaps really bad) for that stamp of approval that is implied with traditional publishing, that unspoken message to potential readers that it can’t be that bad because an agent and editor(s) have read through it already and were willing to spend money to bring it to you.  And then there’s the costs I don’t have to spend money for up front (money I don’t really have at the moment, to be honest).  But it’s a very uphill battle for someone entirely unpublished for me, and I’m not long on confidence generally.  In fact, I rarely give myself the credit that some of my friends argue I deserve.

There is a definite historical stigma to self-publishing.  I find it in my own attitude, even.  In my opinion, it’s lessening now in this the age of e-publication, but I think it’s still there to at least some extent.  Perhaps it is because you do find plenty of books out there among the self-published that were written by someone clearly delusional about the level of their own talents.  You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones that come across as someone’s first draft, with spelling and grammar errors and confused narrative.  And I don’t want to be mistaken for one of those, but I’m aware that there’s a growing tide of those who write very well jumping on this train.

There are several advantages that are definitely starting to make the traditional publishing route look less attractive.  The biggest is control.  I would have control over my work, how long it’s available, where and at what price.  I decide how often I publish a new book.  I can have the cover I want.  It would happen sooner than trying to fight that uphill battle of traditional publishing.  And more of the money is mine (so is the financial risk, but nothing worth doing is without risk), with fewer people being paid a percentage of the book’s sales.  I have to agree with Dean Wesley Smith on this.  He’s talked about it in his blog before.  Actually, he talks about a lot of important business stuff in his blog.  But the salient point here is that I did the work of writing this, inventing it in the first place in fact, spent my time and effort to make it a reality.  They did their job once.  They don’t keep working on the book after it’s published in some cases.  Why should they get a percentage paid to them for however long the book is available?  If I’m willing to learn that business side and find people to do the work for a flat fee, to spend the time dealing with the business end of things, there’s no reason I shouldn’t do it that way.  Actually, the more I write this post, the more I think I’m going to end up going self-publish, e-publish.  I may or may not get rich that way, I may never realize the dream of writing full time, but at least I would get to do it my way.  Besides, even in traditional publishing, being able to afford to write full time is unlikely, as I understand it.  I think it’s time for me to get down to researching and learning when not actively writing.  I have a lot to learn before I get this in people’s hands (e-readers).  And I may change my mind on this.  It wouldn’t be the first time.

In the meantime, as I go through all of this and think about all of the above, what will I be doing?  Digging into another project.  I’m more than a little torn on that.  I want to work on The Ailing Tree, but I don’t think I’m ready.  There’s still a bunch of stuff I’m letting simmer with that one.  I want to work on the second book in the Mirrors trilogy, currently going under the working title Possession, while I’m still very much in the vein of that world, and I’m leaning toward that, working on and finishing the trilogy before moving on to another world.  I don’t expect major story or world reworking to come out of the feedback process for DM (though you never really know), so I could at least start ordering my notes and working on an outline.  I’m also throwing around possible new titles for DM, but not really sure about any of them yet, so I won’t be sharing them at this point.

I’d like to close this post by saying that I’m amazed how much better writing The End feels this time.  It might be because this time I didn’t do it knowing I’d have to do significant rewrites, so it really feels like The End.  There’s still work to do on it, and I don’t yet know how much, but this time it feels like so much more of an achievement.  I like that 🙂

Surprisingly on Schedule

I should have posted last night, and I did mean to, but I could barely keep my eyes open, so I went to bed and slept in. As it’s the first day of my vacation, so I felt entitled to do that. Given how late I slept in, I probably needed it more desperately than I was aware of.

The past couple of days have been good ones for writing, writing in the 3700 range each day, and I’m up to 36.5k on the second draft of Dark Mirror. As an aside, I can no longer even mention the working title of the novel without thinking how much I need to find a title that works better, because DM no longer even remotely fits. Oh well.

My ten days of vacation start today and I expect that my totals will go up as a result, since I can slip in and out of writing all day now. I’ve written a couple of key scenes in the last two days, and I have some more coming up, so it’s an interesting time. I’m very aware that these are important scenes and I’m trying to sculpt them a little, which is part of what’s slowing me down a bit. I want to come through this draft with something actually readable (not publishable yet, I know that’s too much to ask from even a second draft) plus I know I’m going to be building on these scenes as I work toward the end, do I need to make the right choices now where my outline has room for choices.

On the subject of my outline, I’m surprised to find myself right on schedule from a words versus length of outline perspective. There are 37 entries in my outline (the level of detail and length of storyline in each entry is highly variable, but it averages out mostly I think) and I just finished entry 13. Given I’m shooting for about 100k again for final word count and I’m a little over 36, that puts me at a third done on both scores. That shocked me, because I had felt that I wasn’t getting through my outline fast enough compared to words, that this was going to end up as an excessively long draft, but it hasn’t turned out that way, so far at least. I’m not really sure why it’s worked out this way either. Maybe it’s just a testament to my subconscious’ skill as a writer (yeah right, whatever).

What I currently find most interesting is that it feels like I’ve been writing this draft for a while, though when I sit down and add it up, it’s only been nine days, not including today. I don’t think it’s that I already wrote a draft of this either, because the story I wrote for NaNo had significant differences. To me, the feeling seems to stem from a combination of two things. The first is how much I’ve learned to this point as a writer, which is an immense amount during the outlining and writing thus far, and the second is the amount that has happened in the book, and that too has been a lot. I experience this sometimes when reading a book, even more so when I go racing through a series that spans years of in-book time. I finish, realize I’ve only been reading for a month or however long, and feel like it has to have been longer, because the in-story time was so much longer. It’s kind of fun to get that feeling from my own work, because it suggests that I’m on the right track with it, that it’s managing to engross me enough as I write it to mess with my sense of time like work from my favorite published authors. Highly encouraging to this fledgling author who wants to be published one day.

In other news, I have yet another idea tugging at me, and it’s starting to shape into something more than a character and ability sketch. Time Lord, as I will be referring to it, is starting to develop into a story! The main conflict is starting to shake itself out of the dust, as well as the main character’s more personal conflict. It’s an interesting idea too, and will make demands on me as a writer for growth and attention to detail. I’m not sure if I’m skilled enough yet to write it well, but we’ll see. I also have to keep in mind that the first draft is more about getting the story down than being good. I’m a long way from starting that first draft on it anyway, so I have time to grow. I think The Ailing Tree is more likely to be my next story anyway, as I’m continuing to work on the outline a little, when I need a break from DM. Too early to worry about that though, anymore than I’m thinking too much yet about whether to go traditional publishing or self-publishing for DM. Too much work to do yet for that question to really get on the radar. Hell, I probably wouldn’t think at all about it, but I keep reading in blogs here on WordPress about other writers having the debate with themselves, which inevitably leads my mind to the question for me. Oh well, a worry for another day. First, to finish second draft of DM.

Oh, I hear Fay and Tavis calling, so I have to go now. Take care, everyone.

Progression and Insight

Before we get to the more usual writing portion of today’s blog entry, I would like to announce two personal things. One, I get to keep my job for a while. I’m in a temporary contract position that started in the Fall of last year, was supposed to be six months long and keeps getting extended to my general delight. I mostly like my job, the majority of my coworkers and my boss. The pay is fairly good and it’s a 15 minute bus commute between home and work. Working could be worse, except that every couple of months I get to have the angst of not knowing if I will be extended. Given the tough economic times, though, I’m counting my blessings. I have a job, which is a big blessing that many out there lack. And today I got word that I am being extended another couple of months. That makes me happy. The other announcement is that I am again looking at my beautiful iMac on my desk. Yes, it is finally fixed and I am grateful for warranties. Always nice not having to fork over 1170 bucks for repairs.

Now on to what you’re all really here for, the writing news. It’s been a good past couple of days as I put the weekend’s post-draft-completion panic further behind me and think things through. More insights have come, including some fundamentals. One was so big that I wrote it on a piece of paper in big letters and taped it to the wall where I can see it from both my desk and my bed, which is where I tend to write. Yes, major stuff. What’s really funny about this insight is that it seems so basic, and I mean the earth is round kind of basic, but I had never quite thought of it before, not so directly, and it’s making me re-examine some of my favorite books and stories in this new light. It’s that stories are at least partly about the choices made by those in it. And I’m not just talking about the main characters, even the minor characters and villains, their choices help fuel and tell the story, to shape it. I have to remember that when I’m thinking stories up, outlining them, and telling them. I have to ask myself what choices are they making and why are they making that choice rather than others. And the answer can never be any variation of “just because” either. Like I said, seemingly basic, but it has changed Dark Mirror a lot, and is helping to shape other projects too.

I didn’t do any writing, didn’t read anymore of the first draft of DM, but notes and a new outline for the second draft are coming along well, and that’s awesome in my books. Some for the old events are going to be in it, though in different order with some details changed due to the very altered nature of the story I’m telling now, and others will be gone entirely. Some characters are being relegated to the background, others made more prominent. It’s almost like watching a Rubick’s Cube solving itself, except it really is me turning things over and finding ways that pieces fit better now. I think I have a better idea of what this story is about now and whose story it is. It’s Fay’s story, though Tavis is still very much part of it and has his own story interweaving with hers. This is going to change how I tell it a lot. The sub-plots are clearer, and will be apparent earlier. It’s also going to be a more active story, just by one single change I made that unravelled the old story into something better. And I’m really glad that I’m doing this, because it’s teaching me more about writing, story construction, all of that. I think something way better is going to come out of this, even if it means writing another 100k plus in 30 days. That’s fine, I can do that. I’ve already proven that much.

While I’m doing all this work on DM, I’m also still doing some of the same work on The Ailing Tree, though at this point that’s mostly world building, getting to know the characters better, things like that. I’ve only got a couple of items in the outline so far, and they’re only the very start, but that’s okay. I don’t plan on writing AT for a while yet, not until it’s ready. Maybe for Camp NaNoWriMo in either June or August, for the first draft. We’ll have to see if it’s ready then and if I’m still head down tinkering away at DM. Heck, I might just welcome writing the first draft of AT as a break from working on DM.

Right now, though, all of this just means that my iPad is living with me and getting a lot of love. At least I feel fully justified in giving it to myself as an early Christmas present this year. It kicked me back into writing in a big way, gave me a great tool (yay, omnioutliner) to work out my stories, and I find that just looking at it seems to make my brain want to think about story. Definitely no regrets there.

I think that’s it for now. It’s certainly all I can think of. Back to working on writing. Second draft doesn’t plan or write itself anymore than first draft did.

In A State Of Flux

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled semi-almost-kinda sane author. I must apologize to, well, a few people, for what happened on Sunday. I know, the post doesn’t look that bad, but I think by the end of the day, I was in full panic mode. Maybe it’s because I’d never gotten to the end of the novel before, but I really expected The End to feel more like an end. Instead, it felt like this overwhelming beginning, and I panicked about how much there was to do.

In retrospect, it was a familiar feeling, because it’s what I used to get mid-way through first draft when I’d look at how much more I had to write, and then revise and then…. You get the picture. So really, I was kind of advancing a step, but it does get better. Because I remember why I didn’t do that this time, how I got all the way to The End without panicking. That’s good because that (along with soothing phone calls and words of wisdom from friends) helped me get past it.

I have to remember to take this one step at a time, one piece at a time, and not let me get ahead of myself. Keeping that firmly in mind, I’m only doing notes and stuff on Dark Mirror right now, asking myself a lot of questions, finding unexpected answers and thinking about the implications of those answers. Dark Mirror is shifting, and I’m not entirely sure where it will come to rest, but I know it’ll be better for it. Major changes, though, and I probably won’t even end up using the old manuscript as reference. Sad, I know, 107k words that will likely never see anyone’s eyes but mine, but it’s for the good of the story. Part of the process, so some wise person told me lately.

Funny thing is, I’m not letting that make me stop working on The Ailing Tree at all. I’m letting lessons learned and learning from Dark Mirror instead go into the process of prepping The Ailing Tree. I’m hoping for a better first draft, a better overall story coming out of first draft when I go to write The Ailing Tree.

On another note, I can tell I haven’t been actually writing lately. I’m tired, though some of that might also be work stress. Only Tuesday and it’s been a crappy week, probably partly from panicking on Sunday. Sometimes I think everything in my life is a bit circular, or maybe just elliptical…

Catastrophe or Opportunity?

Yes, I know, I was all victory on my last post so this might come as a bit of a surprise to those reading this now, but I am trying to be honest here about my experience.

So, after typing the end, I tried mightily to ignore the manuscript other than backing up in a number of places, having conversations of congratulations with friends and family. I watched a couple of movies I’ve been the mood for in the last couple of very busy weeks and started outlining The Ailing Tree. I was going to leave Dark Mirror alone for a couple of weeks before I touched it or read it, I swore to myself. Um, yeah, that lasted until I woke up this morning feeling bereft from not having Dark Mirror to work on today. I know, I’m a strange one. You’re not the first to think it, everyone who knows me knows this. So I started reading the PDF on my iPad. I discovered something, and I’m not sure what to make of it (as shown in the title of this post). I knew, I said, that there would be some substantive rewriting required for at least the first half, and some minor ones probably for the second half. Reading the first dozen pages or so this morning and thinking about all that I remember writing in the last 33 days, I realized something. The whole thing needs to be rewritten. Em, don’t cry or scream at me, there is good reason.

You see, everyone, I realized this morning that there are rather large inconsistencies in the story. Worse, some of the things that happen don’t make any sense when taken only with what is in the book, as opposed to taking it with what I know I intended. Actually, some of it doesn’t even make sense to me regarding why people do the things they do. That is very very bad. It’s supposed to make sense. Motive should be clear to the reader, things should follow logically, though some of it doesn’t make complete sense until the end or can be misinterpreted before then. So I think this means the manuscript is, well, critically broken.

Now, I can look at this as catastrophe. But I don’t, not really. For one thing, I really do miss sitting down every day in anticipation of writing. Yes, it was blood, sweat, tears and broken brains for just over a month, but I miss it and felt alive and happy doing it. For another, it’s a learning experience, and one that stems from doing about two weeks of planning at best before jumping into page 1. I now know what I need to consider beforehand now. So draft 1 was more of a trial run (and a mess) that you will probably never see. I’m already working on it though, listing out what needs to change or be fixed. I may take it down to one viewpoint, instead of trying to do both, though that is far from sure right now. If I do that, I may actually switch this to first person, rather than leaving it as 3rd person limited, which it is right now. I have a tendency to try to get cute in 3rd limited and show things that the character isn’t actually aware of, and I get mad at myself when I catch me doing that. It’s a bit juvenile and unprofessional and I have to kick that habit.

So, as I write all this, and look at my notes, I’m leaning toward opportunity. And don’t worry, it won’t delay things much. I just did 107k in 33 days. With some time spent on just notes, I can do it again. My brain is in surprisingly fine working order (none of you can be as shocked by that as I am) and I view this as part of the process of learning to construct good, coherent stories. It’s teaching me things that are also being applied to my outlining work for The Ailing Tree. I need to ask why more often, of my character, the world and events that drive the story. If it takes completely rewriting Dark Mirror to get there, to learn that, it’s a small price to pay. It was only a month’s work, and it’ll still pay off. Even knowing I can get to the end is a precious thing that will help me get through to the end of a second draft.

So yeah, opportunity, definitely more opportunity than catastrophe, since I seem to be on the road to fixing it already, since I know how to fix it. Catastrophe would be me staring at it and wanting to delete it all for lack of ability to salvage anything. Actually, that sounds more like tragedy.

There are no words to describe how I feel right now. An odd thing for a writer to say, I know, but it’s true. I’m sitting here staring at my NetBook’s screen, seeing the magical words I just typed and all I can manage is a kind of stupefied amazement. I did it. I wrote it all, beginning to end, it’s all there. I made it to The End. Dark Mirror, first draft, is complete.

Wow. I mean, just… Wow.

It’s been a busy few days since November ended, officially ending NaNoWriMo. I’m still tagging this post for that, since it’s only a few days into December, and Dark Mirror is still very much a creature of NaNo in my mind. Life, as always, tries to get in the way and I came home and wrote anyway. Last night was the most mind-boggling yet, mostly because I wrote the major climax scene and sat there beforehand telling myself, “it’s all been building to this, don’t screw it up”. Way to take the pressure off, huh? But I wrote it, and I think it’s pretty good, not that I’ve really read it much. Today was wrap-up stuff, which I found harder. A character I hadn’t anticipated added himself to the story only a few days ago, and he ends up figuring heavily in the wrap-up, so I had to completely revamp that part this morning. I’m not completely happy with the ending, but it’s first draft and that’s allowed. The important part is that it’s done! 107,454 words and complete

So, the question is, what will I do with all this free time I now have, with the first draft done? Well, I still need to do some rewriting on the first half (thanks Tavis) so I may at least assess how bad that is and, if not too daunting, I may do that before sticking Dark Mirror in the drawer to age a bit. And if I don’t do that, or afterward if I do, there’s another idea kicking around, that I’ve been making some decent headway with, and I may start outlining that. The Ailing Tree has some serious promise, and the characters are starting to make themselves clearer to me every day. I’m looking forward to that one, possibly more than I’m looking forward to editing Dark Mirror.

I want to again thank you guys, everyone who reads this blog and my friends and family on Facebook. You guys were a big key to getting through this whole first draft, to writing every day and getting it done. There was something about having an audience and a place to report my progress that was very motivating to me. On the nights that I didn’t feel like writing, what got me pounding away at the NetBook anyway was the thought of having to confess to you guys that I hadn’t written, or hadn’t hit my goal for the day if I felt like quitting with less than 1667 words for the day. I don’t think I would have managed without that. It would have been too easy to tell myself that I’d catch up later and get into the habit of letting it slide, then not succeeding. Thank you for helping me keep on target.

So now I give my poor brain a little bit of a break, just notes for a couple of days. I think I deserve it. I’ll update you guys when I get started editing this beast. I’ll need some place to cry about it anyway. :p

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