Hiatus

So I’ve been quiet lately, and the reason for this is, I’ve not been thinking about my manuscript much. I’d love to say I’ve been busy working, but I’ve mainly been busy job hunting. Still, I felt like I needed some time away from my manuscript. The only work I’ve done on it lately, is correct grammar that beta readers have pointed out. And when doing that, I wasn’t really doing much reading. I simply read the sentence with their corrections and then decided “yes” or “no.” Most of them were “yes” but some suggestions I chose not to take for stylistic reasons.

When I wrote about delving back into my story, I think it was premature. I think I had eaten and breathed my manuscript for so long, it had really consumed me to a point that working on it was not only “not fun” it was actually starting to depress/annoy me. I wasn’t shocked that my novel wasn’t flawless, but I’ve had very little push back from readers on things that actually pertain to the story. This is something that I am proud of, but it also makes editing hard for me. I can read what I’ve written over and over, but it will never look “wrong” to me, because I feel the sentiment behind every sentence. I’m honestly at a point that requires a fresh pair of eyes, and so I’ve been sitting back and letting my betas review my manuscript. Many of my more micro-reading betas are still going through the manuscript (they send me two chapters at a time) which is good, but I think I’ve had enough time away to really look at the first 1\2 of it with fresh eyes myself. Or at least, I hope so.

Hopefully this means I will be blogging more. Comments tends to keep me going =)

Advertisements

Restored

Click me! It should send you to a youtube clip of the song.

So I would like to thank everyone for reaching out to me after my post yesterday. I tend to get down every now and then, and blogging it out sometimes helps. I am not sure if that is what did it, or if things just looked better this morning, but I’m back to working on several projects so I think I’m fine now.

Although today started off gross, it has now become nice enough that I can take a walk. I know I’ve blogged about this before, but I really think walking for about 45mins-1 hour a day really does me a lot of good. Even if I don’t go that far, something about getting out of the apartment, into the world, just helps. It’s become my little quick fix healing spell.

Losing

So you might have noticed that for the past month or so, I’ve been pretty good at keeping positive. Alas, today ended my streak. Honestly, today I feel like a loser, especially in the “writer/author” world. I had really hoped to be further along in the fine-tuning process of manuscript, but I have yet to even open the document. The idea of going back even putting in the corrections that my betas have found is exhausting. I keep thinking “What’s the point?” Of course the answer is there “Once it is fine tuned I can begin to query” but today the idea of querying is a lot less exciting than it has been before. I’m not sure if it because the reality of it is soon to come, or if it is because it won’t come soon enough.

I have spent so much time on this book, that it annoys/pains me that it just isn’t done at this point. I’ve taken time away from it, and still love it, but today, I feel burdened by it. It’s this huge rock, which I have chipped away at, and I can start to see the sparkle, but the few steps left to get the last bit of debris out of the way seems so delicate that it is exhausting.

I hope that tomorrow I remember how good it feels to work on my novel, but today, that feeling is not there.

Returning

I think it is really amazing that people don’t talk about how many times one has to return to a book, before it is finished. I’ve had a nice break, and have received a pretty decent amount of feedback. Some of the people who have yet to finish my manuscript have told me why, and I am happy to know that none of them have had difficulty getting through the material.

Still, I am kind of both dreading and excited about returning to the world of my book.

Part of me really does want to just correct a few bits of grammar and start shopping it, but I think with a little more fine tuning, shopping it will be easier.

Don’t say it, you’ll jinx it

So in the past 24 hours or so I got most of my feedback from my very brave Betas who volunteered to read the full manuscript. It was incredibly humbling, because for the most part I was told I “had a hit” of a novel. I found this especially incredible as several of my betas said “I saw on your blog that you wanted harsh criticism, but I honestly couldn’t think of things to improve.”

What I am mainly taking away from this is the follow kudos:

  1. The characters in my novel are good, and people care about them.
  2. The pacing of my novel is correct, as many people found it difficult to put down.
  3. The plot to my book is engaging, and people generally want to know what happens next.
  4. My terms of art are explained well enough to not be confusing.
  5. All sexual elements in the novel are kept within a certain level of taste

Things Betas have pointed out to varying degrees:

  1. I need help making the first chapter as awesome as the rest of the book.
  2. I need to do some tinkering in the first 100 pages to help sprinkle in some more background on the pre-existing relationships of some characters.
  3. I need to do a “find/replace” and change all “alright” to “all right” (I was misled about which was correct during drafting! *shakes fist in air*)

Thing I always knew in theory, but now feel I have practical experience with:

  1. No matter what. Some people will always wish I had provided more information, while others will find much of the information I supplied as “unnecessary.”

Still, the thing that was most enjoyable about these past 24 hours is that I feel pride in my work. It might have taken a year to write, but clearly it was worth the blood, sweat, and tears!

What were you thinking?

So hopefully by Monday, many of my readers will have gotten back to me. I only have official comments from one person, and knowledge that 2 out of 6 people have opened the document I sent them about 2 weeks ago. Thankfully both who told me they opened also said they had difficulty putting it down.

That said, I will admit there was a certain amount of anxiety in submitting my pages to these beta readers, as well as the betas who are going through it in small pieces. I keep worrying somewhere within my manuscript there is a “WTF!” moment. A moment that makes the reader put the book down, and NEVER want to pick it back up. For 2 of my readers, I am happy to know that moment didn’t exist.

As someone who is also acting as a beta reader I have seen a few of these moments. When I saw them, I let the reader know “If I was an agent or publisher, I’d probably stop here.” I would then proceed with a LONG description as to why this is. Since I was a beta though, I would always stick it out, and read the remainder of what was sent. I realize that my book has a few pebbles that people can trip over in the beginning, and I look forward to smoothing that surface a bit more. That way people will have a smooth run from page one all the way to the end. That said, I wonder if I’m a little too harsh as a beta reader. My comments are usually constructive. I say usually, because there are places in my comments where I say”I don’t know if this is a problem, but I don’t like X” technically that is not constructive so much as it is admitting that this is a bias I personally have as a reader.

Still, my first chapter (that I completely deleted) definitely suffered from “I would stop reading this” syndrome. That’s why I deleted it. The beginning was slow. Sure it built a lot of stuff, introduced you to people, etc., but it did so at a snails pace. I got lots of muted/polite feedback on that chapter, and I kind of wish people had been harsher with me. It is for this reason, I am a harsh reader. I give praise, when earned, because I think it is helpful. However, the bulk of my notes are about problems.

Which would you prefer? A harsh critic or a muted one?

Fear of Spoiling

So one my betas asked why I was a hesitant to foreshadow more. Personally I feel like I foreshadow plenty, but I think he was asking me to do more, so that he could get a better idea of who a specific person was earlier in the book. He’s right, that is something I need to/will address on my next revision. Yesterday I talked about my fear of stating the obvious. Another reason I feel less than awesome at giving readers every detail of everything I know/see as the author, is that I am really sensitive to clues.

The reason I NEVER want to write a murder/mystery book is this, if I know who did it, it will be IMPOSSIBLE for me to leave clues, because I will want to cover my own tracks. This is just something about the way I’m wired, since I used to believe I was dumb, I assume every clue is an obvious one. So I don’t like to give them, because I’m afraid any clue will be a huge flashing neon sign. This makes me feel like it ruins all tension that I am building.

Of course, readers need  these details, so I adore having betas ask me for more information. It lets me know that I’ve been too conservative with my clues/details. Now that I’ve been getting some form of feedback every day (for a whole 3 days) it is really addicting. I’m enjoying it. All of the feedback has had been a relatively nice blend of complimentary feedback, as well as constructive “this needs work.”

Today one of my betas told me she read my book in 12 hours. She burned through the first 200 pages in about 2 hours, and then she would reward herself for 30 minutes of studying by reading 2 chapters at a time. 10 hours later she was done! That made me feel pretty great. She was pleasantly surprised how much she didn’t want to put my book down, and so am I.

That’s Obvious!

This was the poster on my door as a kid =)

So today I got some more feedback, and I felt inclined to argue with some of it. Not in a “you’re wrong” way, but more of a “well I said this, isn’t that enough?” kind of way. It’s not particularly useful to do this, so I held my tongue, but did ask questions that hinted toward this. The answers provided were useful in helping me determine just why what I said was ambiguous. This is something I suffer from as a writer, and it is something that when criticized I have to ask a lot of questions about. I think it comes from being an actor. On stage you have lots of help telling a story. There are sets, lights, costumes, etc. You don’t have to establish when and where you are at every given turning point in a story like you do in a novel.

This is a reason I ADORE my betas! I need to know what was vague. When I read my book, I see it unfold just like a movie. It’s a fun ride, and one I really enjoy, but I’ve seen it too many times. I can walk you through scene by scene,  almost line by line. It’s a blessing and a curse. It’s great to be able to respond to questions and comments with 100% certainty what the answer is, and why I thought it was clear. It’s a curse because, since I know all the answers, clarifying them for everyone else is a lot of hard work. I fear overstating the obvious and/or giving away things early and ruining tension.

These are things I often deal with in life in general. I was told I was not smart for many years, which I understand is not entirely true. I’m first to admit I hate math, HATE IT, but I know now there are other types of intelligence. That being said, I sometimes fall into a bad habit formed when I was young. If I learned something fascinating, like that our currency is no longer determined by the gold standard, I would try to slip this into conversation as a way to prove I wasn’t a moron. I would usually do this and expect one of two reactions:

  1. “The devil you say, I don’t believe you.” (Or whatever the 21st century equivalent that you might prefer)
  2. “I didn’t know that! You’re so smart.”

Unfortunately, the usual response was “Well duh, everyone knows that. Why did you bring it up?” The fact that this happened a few times as a tween made me believe that if I knew something, certainly everyone else did. It wasn’t until I took my first writing course in college that I learned this was not true. I wrote a story about Maria Callas, assuming everyone knew she was a famous opera singer. In my entire class, two people knew that, and one of them looked it up after reading my story. However, I am certain this is where my fear of stating the obvious comes from.

I will discuss “the fear of giving things away early and sacrificing tension” tomorrow 🙂

In the Mind of Another

So normally when I get word from a beta that they’ve finished reading my work, I question whether or not I should break out some liquor before reading their thoughts. Fortunately, I only chose to read thoughts with a glass of wine once (the beta warned me that almost every sentence had been commented) but today I got my first feedback for the full manuscript. Since the notes came in around mid-morning, I knew drinking was not in the cards, so I took a big gulp and opened the e-mail.

I’m happy to report that my beta, Steph Wortel, liked the manuscript for the most part. Her thoughts were all very constructive, and some of them I suspected, and just needed someone to tell me that it should be changed. None of the modifications needed to address her concerns were problematic. The nicest thing about it was that she read it in over the course of two days basically. I always worry my book is easy to put down, and I also worry that I torture poor people who volunteer to be beta readers. That anyone would bother reading it so quickly is amazing to me.

The rest of my betas only have a few more days before they are supposed to have finished reading. While I doubt I’l luck out as well with EVERY reader as I have with Steph, I feel a great sense of pride today. It’s nice to know that I entertained at least one person with my book.

I definitely feel that I am one step closer to querying agents. Hopefully this means I am closer to get the book off my computer, and in the hands of readers!