April Showers 1921

I wrote about a new novel that came to me in a dream the other night (“Spinning Up”). One unmentioned aspect was the newly conceived novel’s cover. I saw it in the dream. The cover felt and looked so real and substantial to me that I was nonplussed. The title, April Showers 1921, was embossed gold letters on a silver cover. It seemed so real that I looked up the title to determine if that book already existed. Without surprise, I found songs, books, and short stories called April Showers, but none had the 1921 addition, and none featured silver and gold covers. I seem safe with it.

I’ve worked on April Showers 1921 some since dreaming about it, fleshing out characters, setting, and writing some scenes, but I didn’t throw myself into it. After two days of that, I wondered, why not? I realized that indecision caused by my greatest weakness, over-analysis, was paralyzing me once again.

It’s a familiar scenario. I overthink something. That drains my resources, and I stop making progress until I resolve what I’m overthinking.

Naturally, this paralysis is all founded on a writing issue, specifically — this time — finding an agent for the Incomplete States series. I think I’ve identified several potential agents. I narrowed my search to one lucky agent. I’ve written a synopsis and query letter. That’s where I stopped.

The Incomplete States series employs several styles. In terms of recent books, it reminds me of Cloud Atlas. My series science-fiction infused, but its mostly literary, except the first novel has a science-fiction military noir feel to it. Fantasy flares strong in another book, while yet another has the sensibility of historic fiction.

Yes, I enjoy genre B&B – bending and blending – whether I’m reading or writing it.

On a side note, the great and all-knowing Internet says, don’t mention any of the rest of the series when seeking representation and publication of the first book.

For grins, I hunted down the rejection records for successful writers. I’ve followed this path before, so it’s very familiar to me.

J.K. Rowling. Her Harry Potter series was rejected twelve times, you know. Dr. Suess was rejected twenty-seven times before he found a publisher willing to take a chance on his Cat in the Hat book. The author of  The Martian, Andy Weir, had given up on being published, but kept writing and self-published. When The Martian found success, publishers came running. Kathryn Stockett, The Help, was rejected over sixty times. Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time, had twenty-six rejections. Catch-22, Joseph Heller, twenty-two rejections. Twenty for William Goldberg, The Lord of the Flies. Carrie, by Stephen King, was rejected thirty times. Pretty amazing was that Still Alice, by Lisa Genova, experienced over one hundred rejections. After she self-published and had success, publishers came calling, and her novel was made into a movie starring Julianne Moore, who won an Oscar for her performance.

There was also Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, over five times, and Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, rejected one hundred twenty-one times.

Reading about these rejections is invigorating and inspiring. You gotta have hope, optimism, belief, and determination. You gotta keep writing for the love of writing.

Writing about my paralysis cleared matters up and broke the log jam. (I now have a featured image of logs floating through my mind.) I’m ready to submit. (Ha, ha, I love how that can have multiple meanings.) All they can do is say no, right?

The day is full of promise. I got my coffee. Time to submit, and then write and edit like crazy, at least one more time.

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Spinning Up

I’ve been conducting an agent search pursuant to having my novel published, writing the query and synopsis for it (and the series, as it’s the first novel in a series of five), and editing the novel (and series) again.

My agent search uncovered a lot of agent hunger for MG and YA novels. That seems to continue as a hot market. Apparently my subconscious took note, because the muses delivered a YA character, premise, and title to me in a dream last night. As I recalled the details this morning, other characters jumped into existence in my mind. Dialogue, scenes, plot details and twists began racing through my mind as I showered and shaved. Sitting down at the computer, I typed up dozen pages as I drank a cup of coffee, and then had a chortle.

My muses love novel writing’s inventing and imagining phase. A new project? Yes, naturally, they were excited. They kept on through the morning, punching more of the novel into me, spinning up my excitement as they fed me words. Like them, though, I enjoy the the inventing and imagining phase, putting it all together, playing with the logic puzzles behind motivation and voices that underpin establish a novel’s underpinnings. That shouldn’t be a surprise since my muses and I share a mind.

Got my coffee. Time to edit and write like crazy, at least one more time.

Summing It Up

I finished editing and revising An Undying Quest. I didn’t think I’d finish it in 2018 but by ignoring time and doing nothing else, I did, without rushing or being hasty.

The ending satisfied me. I think the five books are sufficient for the Incomplete States series.

I want to write The Final Time. Coming to me as a collateral concept to Incomplete States as I finished writing the first five books, I wanted to explore it, and began writing it. I understand that urge — I write to think, and it was a tantalizing concept, so I wanted to know what I think about it and how it develops– but I now know that the series itself doesn’t need it. I can write it later as a sequel, if I want to do that.

So many collateral stories, tangents and sequels can be written from this series and explored. Because, like other writers have discovered, and I discovered for myself, we take a slice of existence and ideas, explore and populate them, and decide where we begin and end the story, but it’s all bit arbitrary. It’s something that comes to intellectually and emotionally satisfy the urge that prompted me to write it, that now satisfies me as a reader as I finish editing it.

So, I’m done. I have a first draft of the five books of the series. In the rosy afterglow of writing, editing, and revising the books, I feel satisfied with where I’ve gone and where I landed.

Other steps are required for publication, like proper editing. As other writers know, this glorious mess is probably still a bit of a mess. I’ll address them on another day. For now, I’ll relax and rejoice about what I’ve done and what I have.

As a favorite writer’s character once said, “Goodbye and hello, as always.”

That pretty well sums it up.

Rough Diamonds

I’d hoped to have finished editing An Undying Quest, the fifth novel in the Incomplete States series by yesterday. Only two chapters, forty pages remained three days ago.

Issues were encountered. The chapters suffered from being the last ones written. As the final chapters, they’d not been polished, edited, and revised as the others had. They were raw, beta chapters. They needed work.

Among the issues encountered were a brief POV change and a few matters of grammar and punctuation. Dialogue needed tidying, but most critically, details were needed.

I love reading details in novels. I think they often add immense value. That’s how I tend to write, then. Not in the beta draft, though.

In writing’s first rush, I capture scenes and action, coloring in broad, fast strokes. It’s an intense rush. They’re here, they’re there, they did this, and then that, which resulted in this, but unexpectedly —

The writing is bang, bang, bang, bang. Even when they’re action scenes, more is required after that first rush to help the scenes breath and flow together. Sometimes changes are required to adjust to the characters’ past, and sometimes continuity matters exist.

I instantly realized that I’d not polished the chapters. The difference was clear because the reading cadence was mildly askew. That realization tempered my approach. I read both chapters completely before doing anything except fixing the most basic errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Everything else was left untouched until I knew the entire picture. After reading them, I’d established strong ideas about what to addressed, and then began reading, revising, and editing the chapter again.

So, An Undying Quest isn’t fini yet. I’d hoped to complete it by Christmas, and then by the end of the year. That may still happen today. I won’t rush it. I don’t want to be hasty or lazy. Number one, I enjoy the process. Number two, I don’t want to sabotage myself for such a silly, random idea as a self-imposed deadline.

Time to edit and write like crazy, at least one more time in 2018.

Still Having A Ball

Forty pages remain to edit in the Incomplete States series’ fifth novel, An Undying Quest. I’m still grinning with enjoyment as I’m reading and editing.

Just forty pages, I think. I should finish tomorrow. Then I begin writing the sixth book, The Final Time, with full-time energy and focus. I’m looking forward to it, because as I’ve been working on it on the side while editing, new, exciting, interesting ideas occur to me. The series gains complexity and textures as novels one through five progress, and what’s shaping up in book six spins my head.

I look forward to people reading the series. I know several friends and fans who will absolutely love the series. I can imagine them reading them and laughing as they realize what’s going on. I can imagine the final pause of thought after they close the last book. That ending is gaining substance in my mind, but there’s so much to write to get there. Each of the first five books have their intense chapters, but what I feel rising in the sixth book is such an intensity that my body feels like it’s thrumming like a guy wire in the wind as I contemplate it.

I caution myself, well, you might just be crazy. True enough, but WTH, I’m happy in my craziness, at least for today. It might be different tomorrow.

Deep breath. The coffee is gone, the fog is gone, the sun is out, and I’m ravenous. Time to stop editing and writing like crazy, at least one more time.

The Limit

Sitting up, I looked around.

Rain and fog had subdued the sunshine outside. My butt was numb and my eyes were tired.

I’d just finished editing the sixth chapter today. Lifting my coffee cup, I discovered nothing but dried residue inside.

What the hell?

I hadn’t been working that long, guessing it was two hours, but it was focused and intense. I loved what I’d written. I remembered being in such a zone when I wrote those chapters. It was just last June, June 2018. I’d hesitated to begin them, working around them for a few days before telling myself, just write them. Just do it. 

So I did, and they worked out well.

I want to go on, but I’ve hit some limits. Other things require my attention and presence, and why be greedy? It’s been an excellent day of editing like crazy.

There’ll be more tomorrow.

A Reminder

I was down yesterday when I began my writing and editing session. I’m still editing Book Five in the Incomplete States series, An Undying Quest. Halfway through it, I was bummed about what I was reading. I thought, man, I have some work ahead of me to fix these issues.

I didn’t feel like addressing those issues, so I made notes, and continued editing, working on subsequent chapters. When I did, I discovered that those chapters addressed the holes and plot issues, and fixed them.

I was friggin’ astonished. Thinking back to then, I remembering writing and arranging the chapters. I hadn’t realized I’d done this. By that, I mean, I knew that the story went sideways at that point. I knew it as a deliberate choice. I didn’t appreciate how sideways it went. I do remember thinking hard about it, recalling Part One of The Sound and the Fury (Faulkner, 1929), a book that I strongly admire. Back when I first read that novel in sixth grade, I remember gritting my teeth and thinking, “WTF? This is crazy.” Finishing Part One was challenging. But everything is illuminated (sorry,  Foer) with the subsequent parts. So I thought, be brave. Do it.

Now, after editing it, once I grit my teeth through the doubted chapters, the rest are magically explained. It comes together.

It’s not the first time I’ve done something like this. A friend, after reading one of my novels, said that he’d created a list of questions about things that bothered and confused him, then he said, “I was amazed because you brought it all together.” I loved that feedback.

So, I’m hanging with it as written. We’ll see if it makes publication, or what changes come about from outside feedback.

Meanwhile, it’s a powerful reminder that when editing, go through the whole damn manuscript before addressing any major changes. I specifically decided to edit the entire series before having any of them edited or read by another because the series is organic. Events opening in the first chapters of the first book are resumed in subsequent chapters and books. Changing one means hunting down and addressing those changes in other chapters and books. It has multiple points of views and storylines. It’s a complicated exploration. Events and decisions are rarely fully explained, as I like inviting readers to take the information and conceive the answers.

The series was originally conceived as a single, fat novel. I felt breaking it apart into eras of growing awareness and development lends itself to telling the story. I was also aware of my wife and her friends’ complaints about holding up large books to read, yes, even in this era of digital publishing.

Time to write and edit like crazy, at least one more time.

 

Dissatisfaction

I remain in my editing process, working on Book Five of the Incomplete States series. I’ve edited sixty percent of the book, An Undying Quest, but I wasn’t pleased with what I was reading and editing yesterday. In fact, I found myself dissatisfied.

That was ironic, because the chapter’s title is Dissatisfaction. As I read it, I found myself pausing to frown. The coffee shop was empty except for me (the baristas were in the back room), so I went back and read the chapter aloud, trying to feel the flow and understand what seemed wrong.

Too wordy and cumbersome, I concluded. Some cutting and editing is required.

I began reading it again to identify what bothered me, but it just bogged me down. Let me tell you, it’s not reassuring when you, the writer, finds that what you’ve written makes you wince. I gave up for the day, but continued thinking about it.

I thought, well, one, it’s just too wordy. Two, I’m re-hashing what’s already been said and done, so it’s not advancing the story. That’s also killing the pacing. I think I need to cut and perhaps write a brief summary – one, two short lines – to capture the sentiments.

With that in mind, I came back to it today and began anew. It wasn’t simple, but doing this, I’d discovered that the writing was passive. I told, and then told again. Little showing was there. Ugh.

And, interesting, it was too wordy for the character’s perspective. The series is told via several perspective. Each character has their own voice, and this character, Kanrin, is spare in thinking and speaking. He dislikes complicated, rendering things to basic and simple conclusions, and here he was, in convoluted thinking about what was going.

Now seeing how the complexities were entwined and the issues understood and clarified, I could process and edit more thoughtfully. Took time, though. All of today’s session was about reading and editing that chapter.  No summaries were required, just cutting and editing to reduce wordiness and tighten the pace.

I feel I need to edit it again, and will tomorrow. I’m too deep into it now to clearly perceive it. Then, I’ll see what happens on the next editing go-around, planned for the entire series has been edited. For now, it’s been another good day of editing like crazy.

Time to re-join life.

Laughing All the Way

I found myself laughing as I edited today, because I was dealing with the holes.

Still editing Book Five, An Undying Quest, of the Incomplete States series, I have half of the novel edited. The thing about the holes and the society that use them is that I hadn’t planned these holes. The holes in discussion are worm holes, but small, controlled to some degree, such as the way that we control water by channeling and funneling it, and managing levels and temperatures, etc., that are located in a cavern on another planet. The people use the holes to travel to other places, and sometimes to other times, and, if they’re brave enough, to visit the dead.

As noted, they were completely spontaneous when I was writing that section, and created a history and structure on the go. Reading, editing, and revising it today, this society’s depths, history, and complexities surprised me. There’s a sense in reading it that it’s historic fiction, and that you have some sense of what’s meant by the terms and relationships because that’s your history.

I quite enjoyed reading it. Will it work for others? Maybe, maybe not. I think it was James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon) who said something like, “Tell the story, and let the reader catch up, if they can.” That’s what I’m employing in this instance.

I must admit, one aspect of the holes was inspired by a scene from Field of Dreams (1989), when Terence Mann (James Early Jones) accepts the invitation from Shoeless Joe (Ray Liotta) to enter the corn. Love that scene.

Done writing and editing like crazy for another day. Off to join the real people, the real world, and the real sunshine.

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