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Writer, Messenger, and Professional Weirdo
NOTE: I’ve come to the conclusion that it feels sort of fake for me, one to whom verbal cursing comes naturally, to try and cover every f-bomb with something clever (that is very rarely actually clever) – and we’re all adults here, right? Right. I apologize if swearing offends you, but it’s starting to grate on me and this is my blog so bugger it. Onwards!
I am convinced that the entire internet exists for no other reason than to make me uncomfortable while in the very same moment making me insanely jealous at everyone elses’ apparent expertise with social media. Lookit me blog this! And Facebook that! And Instagram this! And Twittertwittertwitter!
I still do not get Twitter. Or Tumblr. It’s frustrating but for me it’s like barging into a party like a clumsy ox where everybody knows everybody so now you stand around awkwardly going, “Um, hi? Hello? Will you be my friend please? I make cookies!”
I do make cookies, by the way. They are awesome.
This time of year is also a very uncomfortable year for me. I grew up surrounded by pomp and circumstance (Catholic) and thus all the Season-y Greetings started to grate and nowadays I can’t stomach them for very long. I’ve also developed some fairly strong opinions on things that tend to clash with the cheery feel-goods of the holiday season.
*Gets out soapbox.*
I’m an atheist and while I give zero fucks how many “Merry Christmas!”es I hear in a given season, it’s also very difficult for me to not launch into a tirade every time I hear things like “Remember the reason for the season!” while people are breaking down the doors at the nearest Target to get the new Barbie doll or whatever.
I do all my Christmas shopping online (yes, we do celebrate – with a TARDIS on top of the tree and everything!).
It’s also the season of bell ringers and it’s always very, very uncomfortable to walk by the box and not drop anything in. I haven’t donated to the Salvation Army in years because while things may not be as bad as they seem, they are bad enough that there are better places to spend my donation money.
*Slides soapbox back under the bed*
So it’s a stressful time of the year for me for a bunch of different reasons. November is usually a lot of fun, because NaNo, but this year I found myself stuck with hours and hours and hours of overtime. I left work every morning and the last thing I wanted after 60 hours (6 days of 10 hour shifts) was to be responsible about something. About halfway through the month I realized that writing was so far down the list of priorities for the month that winning NaNo was not going to happen.
And once I realized that, the pressure was off and winning NaNo did, in fact, happen. Barely.
This year NaNo taught me several things:
But I still managed to make words on pages happen in large chunks during the very small amount of free-time I had. That’s got to count for something, right?
So now it’s back to working on the book and some short stories and maybe if I grow a spine I’ll send some off and we’ll see what happens.
…And while I’m dreaming I’d like a pony…
Whoops. I’ve been waaaaaaaaay lax with the posting. Mostly I’ve been lazy and the longer I go without posting something, the guiltier I (inexplicably) feel and then I continue to avoid it and it all just sorta spirals until oh right this thing exists in the world.
So hi there!
But I have been working and the first half of the story is very near ready for line-editing! Also: In just a few short days it’ll be NaNo time! I enjoy NaNo in that I love making myself write so much in so little time. It’s not good writing, and a lot of it is rambling and babbling and incoherent, but it’s fun nonetheless. This year is the first year I’ve made myself sit down and plot it all out. I’m taking a break from writing about Nephilim and decided to write about cliched Circus Vampires ™ in the 1930s American dust-bowl era and their groupies instead.
Told from the first person (ew ew ew I hate writing in first person why did I decide that would be a good idea) point of view of one of those groupies …After she’s been committed to an asylum in the 1940s.
So it’s a family-friendly story.
On a whim I decided to try the snowflake method of outlining because I stumbled across it via Google and it seemed like a good idea. What I’ve ended up with is the entire book in non-prose form, so that should make this November slightly easier. Considering how many hours of overtime I’ll be working, that’ll come in handy. We’ll see. I’m usually a pantser but considering how much re-writing and trashing and restarting and and and — that I’ve done on The World Outside I’m going to try something different this time around.
So anyway, that’s what I’ve got. It’s not much but it’ll do for now. I’ll hopefully remember that I have this thing when I need to whine about how November is (or isn’t) going! Maybe I’ll stick a lil word counter up in the sidebar.
This is going to be a short post, mostly because the upswing hasn’t come ’round yet and I’ve spent more time dramatically sobbing into a pillow than actually being productive. That may or may be hyperbole, but when one of your beta readers is asked the question, “Would you read past the first chapter?” and their resoundingly honest answer is a very blunt, “No.” it sorta bruises the ego.
Thing is (and this is why I haven’t posted any teasers of the first chapter), I know that bit is broken. It’s (no seriously) attempt fourteen or fifteen (or more, I lost count) at starting this dumb thing and every time I try to fix it, the entire story ends up getting changed. Tweaked. Fixed. Rearranged.
That’s not bad, and it’s not that I don’t appreciate it, but it is exhausting. Eventually I’ll be head over heels thanking dog for honest editors, but right now all I have to go on is a no and a vague idea that the info dump is too much, but not where or how. What makes it worse is this particular reader works days while I work nights, he lives an hour away, and has a small toddler at home. What this means is that I am astonished and humbled that he’s actually taken the time to go through my mess, but it also means that sitting down and talking through where the weak spots are and what about them makes the weak is just shy of being a massive headache.
This upsets me because he is actually qualified to tear the ‘script apart and the novel would (will, I suppose because I will figure this out) benefit from every blow he can throw at it.
The silver lining: the Editor (capital-I-am-being-paid-for-my-time-E) is working on it and she is equally qualified to rip it shreds. Obviously. I mean, I wouldn’t be paying her otherwise. She’ll also be much easier to get in contact with.
The second silver lining: People, if you’re going to marry someone, marry someone whose job it is to teach other people how to write. My wonderful husband took a gander and gave his professional assessment:
I think I know how fix it and no, you probably won’t have to rewrite the whole thing but I need to, like, show you because trying to describe it is hard. But like I need to go to rehearsal (did I mention he’s also an actor?) and you need to go to work so we’ll go over it in the morning.
Seven years of wedded bliss people. This is why. Of course now the big jerk won’t wake up…
noun, plural ca·thar·ses [kuh-thahr-seez]1. the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music.2. Medicine/Medical , purgation.
3. Psychiatry.a. psychotherapy that encourages or permits the discharge of pent-up, socially unacceptable affects.b. discharge of pent-up emotions so as to result in the alleviation of symptoms or the permanent relief of the condition.
From here. In relation to where I’m going with this, what I’m talking about is FEELING ALL THE FEELINGS EVER FELT IN THE ENTIRE WORLD AT ONCE.
Which is pretty much how my whole week has been going. How’s your week been?
Essentially it’s started out like this: Hi! It’s June, which puts me in the interesting and uncomfortable position of going to my beta readers and poking them on the shoulder asking them to maybe give me a little bit of feedback. In other words, to reword my post into something more polite and send it off in an email to the list of like eleven who asked to read the currently raw manuscript.
And I have to do this because while I’d love to be able to, I really can’t afford to have a professional structural edit done. Especially since a copy edit is not really optional (it is but it isn’t) and I’m looking to get some cash to my cover designer by the end of this month.
So that’s fun.
But every time I open up my email program this happens:
It is literally exactly that. I stare at it for about thirty seconds and close the window with a “NOPE!” face to rival NOPE faces. I don’t want to bother people, even though the rational part of me knows better. I have been told as much by the very people I’m terrified of bothering. That doesn’t change the visceral reaction.
So I guess this post is more me working through how to get over myself and, y’know, bug the people who put themselves into a position to be bothered. And I’m sure that, by the end of June (which was my deadline for myself because if I haven’t gotten something by then…) I’ll have finished feeling feelings and have a few less cares to give. Hopefully that promised relief will come.
Five times now I’ve sat down to do this necessary thing and five times I’ve immediately turned into Nathan Lane in The Birdcage.
So it could go either way, really.
I fully accept that I am a complete and total pansy. You guys should see the posts that don’t get published. I have many many opinions, and many of them expressed with more four letter words than can be found on the Jolly Roger. Blessing in disguise for you guys, really.
Of course, that could change once I get comfortable with the idea of saying things that might be wrong holy crap.
I don’t think I could have picked a worse time to start blogging. This has been me all day:
Don’t worry. I’m medicated.
That probably isn’t reassuring to you, but is to me. There really is no good reason for the waterworks either. Confidence issues being what they are, I had a moment of “What am I doing?!” this morning and it just sorta snowballed. Getting up early and wasting an hour and a half smashing my face into the pixelated brick wall that is the WoW Raid Boss of the Month (I have nothing good to say about you Horridon, nothing) didn’t help things. Oh, and then there was work.
Which, oddly enough, made things better.
I actually like my job. I know that sounds weird, but the job itself is pretty straight forward: I talk to people. For ten hours a night I sit there with a headset on talking to people – but – I know what I’m doing. The people I talk to fall into one of several categories:
During the day there’s maybe one or two other categories (I forgot my sunglasses at the funeral home is there anyone there? – though I get this one at midnight too…) but for the most part they’re easy to deal with. Even when the caller is screaming and/or crying I know what to say. I know what tone of voice to use. Outside of work my social interactions contain a lot of uncomfortable silences because being able to form words at other people I barely know is a skill I never actually mastered.
I’m a writer because I’m not a speaker.
So imagine my dismay upon finding out that I need to actually force myself to talk to people I don’t know online. I don’t consider tweeting or facebooking or commenting on blog posts writing in the traditional sense, by the way. I’m interacting with people in mostly real time and I don’t know them and there is no way to make me explode into tears faster than trying to make words happen at strangers.
Obviously, success is a thing I would like. I have no delusions or even intentions of quitting my job (because again, paradoxically, I like my job) but money isn’t what’s important here. Producing a book worth reading is and in order to do that I have to talk to other people. I have to let people know that I am, in fact, doing things. I have to pretend that I can make people care. I have to find a copy editor and a cover designer (latter is taken care of and she is wonderful hooray!). The stage I’m at right now is the dreaded “Hurry up and wait” beta stage which is both awesome and terrible.
Awesome because I know every single one of the readers and therefore asking them wasn’t difficult. Also awesome because just mentioning that I had an unpolished finished project brought people out of the woodwork that I never expected and it was overwhelming in a good way. For the next two days I pretty much just loved everybody.
Terrible because now that they’re reading I want to know what they think without hovering over their shoulder going: “So so so so?!” And going back over the manuscript didn’t help because once I’d done that I had another nervous breakdown because oh my god this isn’t ready I actually let people read this drek!?
So you may be noticing a theme here.
Thing is – and this is what my paranoid side doesn’t quite understand – you can’t do things like this by yourself. You need the people who will read what you’ve written and tell you what’s right and what’s wrong with it so you know what needs to be fixed. And as the loving spousal unit tactfully (har) pointed out, sometimes they don’t know what to tell you because they don’t know what you’re worried about. General questions don’t work.
So okay. Asking them specific questions isn’t difficult, really. Of course, not knowing what works and doesn’t because you’re too close to the work gets in the way, but the question really is when do you ask them? How long do you give your friends who, remember, are doing you a huge favor, before you start gently nudging? And how do you do it without annoying them into never picking the book up ever again? I’m terrified of alienating people to be honest, but I’ve been working on this dumb thing for over four years now and I want to get this done and out the door sometime this year.
I decided on mid-late June, which should give me plenty of time to craft a request for specific feedback (I did give them things to watch out for, but now I gotta get even more specific). Also I’ll have enough time to scrap and rewrite until it doesn’t read like nails on a chalkboard.
We’ll see how it goes.
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