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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Stopping

I’m in such an editing and writing zone, enjoying reading what I’ve written, surprised by the characters and settings. I wrote this? Are you sure? Because I don’t remember it. Yet the notes tell me that I wrote it last June. Ah, where is my mind?

Now I need to stop. Plans were made and time has flitted past with a hummingbird’s speed. I’ve been busy for hours, and sad about stopping. That’s how it sometimes goes, but I take satisfaction in that it was a good day of writing and editing like crazy.

Cheers

The Challenge & Reward

I read so often about how hard fiction writing is. I won’t lie, it offers some challenging times. Writing will drive you mad with character and plot choices, word decisions, and problems with story-telling and pacing. It’ll daunt you with the eternal question, “What comes next?”

But when it all comes together, when you’re in that flow, whether it’s writing, editing, or polishing, when you finally encounter your results, it can be so sweet and fulfilling. I encountered that today, another moment of being surprised by what I’ve written.

It’s all not pages of gems or brilliance. I have read my writing sometimes and gagged in revulsion over what I’d written, using up adjectives to describe how sickened I felt with my attempts.

It’s so rewarding, though, when the opposite is encountered, as it was today while editing the fifth book in the Incomplete States series, An Undying Quest. There’ll be many readers, critics, and other writers who won’t like it. I know that from talking to readers. I’ve heard them say about best-selling novels, “He’s a wonderful writer, but I didn’t like the format.” Or, “She creates beautiful characters. Her writing is like poetry, but there was no ending. The story didn’t make any sense.”

Writers bring intent to their efforts to write. Our intentions as writers often morph as our brains develop insights into what we’re thinking and attempting to show. The story we were originally telling becomes another story. The ending that we stumble upon changes how the entire novel and its concept is regarded.

Through it all are the words and the mechanics of being clear, and the effort to keep the reader engaged, rolling the dice on telling too much or not enough, hoping that the readers see what you’re doing, even though you know that they will find and take away meanings that you, the writer, never saw or intended.

Our brains just don’t work the same way. Our brains depend upon our individual knowledge, emotions, and experiences to find and assign meaning to the words that we read and hear. Although we have standardized agreement about words and their definition, each of us have our own twists and tweaks.

I write about this subject often, the joy of writing, editing, and revising one’s own novel. The process is engaging. It’s a daily escape for me, and today’s editing session kept me glued to my chair and deep in the novel. People came and went as the minutes raced passed. My coffee went untouched. A loud noise finally startled me out of my focus. Then I was shocked by how much time had passed.

It was a good day. But, there are other days…

There are days when he process can drain my soul, obliterating my good mood. Sometimes ideas and words begrudge coming out. Gritting my teeth, sighing, and gulping coffee, I just keep working it and working it, knowing that I’ll re-work it later, probably several times.

I’m pleased that I’ve progressed as a writer (at least in my mind), but I know there’s much more to learn, and so many more ways in which I can progress. I have more ideas, concepts, stories, settings, and characters idling in my mind. I look forward to my attempts to write them. I look forward to progressing as a writer, editor, and story-teller. Then again, effort, hope, and determination don’t promise anything as a result. I could end up flaming out.

It becomes an interesting loop, though — despair, effort, struggle, results, inspiration, hope, despair, effort, struggle, results — and so on. Trying, and finally succeeding with writing something that doesn’t cause me to choke with disgust inspires me to try again, and again. I tell yourself, “You did this once. You can do it again.” So I try, and try, and try.

That’s what it’s all about for me.

It was a good day of writing and editing like crazy. Time to chug down my cold coffee and return to life.

Cheers

 

Progress Report – Incomplete States

I finished editing and revising A Sense of Time today. It’s the fourth book in the Incomplete States series. It’s three hundred thirteen double-spaced Word pages, and seventy-five thousand words. I’ll begin editing and revising the fifth book, An Undying Quest, tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I’ve continued work on the side with the sixth book, The Final Time. I look forward to working on it full time after I edit the fifth book. Based on my projected social calendar and holidays, and my pace with the other books, I’ll probably finish editing and revising An Undying Quest by December’s end.

Done for today, though. It’s becoming cold outside. That bastard wind never relented and the sun is skulking behind layers of clouds. Time to go home, maybe have some hot soup for lunch.

It was a good day of writing and editing like crazy.

Progress Report – Incomplete States

I wrote five books (originally four) for my latest work in process.

I began work on this series in July, 2016. It was originally one book in concept, but what did I know? Eventually, it became four books. Then I felt it necessary to split the original final book into two books because it was over six hundred pages and three hundred thousand words. In an amusing aside, twenty-five documents were created to develop the five books, with well over a million words.

I considered the first take on the entire series to be a beta draft because the novels’ story lines were so interwoven. While written one at a time, I often edited and revised the previous books as I learned the story.

Now I’m editing the fourth book, creating a true first draft of the Incomplete States series by clarifying that story. Once the first draft is finished, another draft will be required to ensure that the same story is being told in the series’ five books (Four on Kyrios, Entangled LEREs, Six (with Seven), A Sense of Time, and An Undying Quest). Then comes another draft to sharpen and polish, and then it goes to the editors for their input.

I’d expected to have the series’ first draft completed by Thanksgiving, but my error (not saving a backup) set me back (lesson learned). I now have December twenty-first as my target date for completion. It’s not unreasonable, as long as I don’t do anything stupid.

Meanwhile, it is fun to read my creation. I’m enjoying myself. My writing /editing time is a sanctuary from existence’s frustration, pain, and weariness.

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

Coupling

It’s been three joyous writing (and editing) days. Having one such day always energizes and intoxicates me. Returning to life’s normal routines and patterns afterward is deflating.

But then, coupling three days together feeds the highs, giving me a sensation of feeling invincible and omnipotent. It’s empowering but frightening because it must be kept in context for what it is.

That energy can’t help but spill over into other things. It stirs something that’s deeper and more primal in me. The short and long of it is that I’m accomplishing, creating something tangible from my mind’s energy and my physical exertion, and that is rewarding. I set a goal, and I’m working toward accomplishing that goal. When successful progress and its accompanying energy continues over three days, this sense parlays into a belief that I can do anything, because, hey, look how good the writing and editing is progressing. Woo-hoo.

Common sense helps ground me. Writing (and editing) and the rest of life aren’t the same. Thinking of this reminds me of some hotel chain’s commercials. They went along the lines of, “Let me operate.”

“You’re a doctor?”

“No, but I got a great night of rest.”

It’s all about how you feel, and the self-confidence that it stirs. I think the chain was Holiday Inn Express.

Meanwhile, however, some of my mind views all this with deep suspicion. “Maybe you’re fooling yourself,” at least one advisor whispers. “You’re probably not that good.”

It’s an amusing proposition because it demands that I hold two contrary ideas in mind, that I am that good, and that I’m not that good. Parts of my writing is probably amazing, and parts are probably crap. This is a draft, and I’m the writer, and I wrote it for me, so if I enjoy it as a reader, mission accomplished. It’s natural that others will dislike it, not get it, enjoy it or not, decide that it’s, “Okay,” (shudder), or love it. None of that’s within my control except that I wrote it for me, and I enjoy it.

Am I conning myself? You bet! But I think I’m also being realistic. I know, too, that I’ll probably encounter days when I feel sick about reading what I wrote because it needs a lot of work.

Accepting that I must stop now is a reluctant choice. I love the immersion of writing and editing my novels. I know myself, though, and my writing process, and its capricious nature. I know that going out on a high helps sustain progress because I feed off expectations created by past success.  It at least makes it easier to get to the document the next day.

So, sadly, but joyously, time to stop writing editing like crazy, one more time.

SUCKS, In Caps

Decided to make a change in my novel in progress. This is Book Four, An Undying Quest, in the Incomplete Series. 

I’m not certain but I overwrote the existing file without creating a backup. Worse, I’d decided to make this change without first backing up my work, violating my cardinal rule – backup, backup, backup, and save often.

Realizing my error immediately, I went into recovery mode. The results were depressing. No ASD files, no WKP files, or TMP files were found as a match for the initial version. No previous versions found. The file wasn’t found on One Drive.

Unbelievable. Three hundred fifty pages of the revised novel were lost.

Back to square two. I have the beta draft in its raw form. I’d started revising on October 18th, so it’s only a few weeks of work, and about half the novel.

Now I’ll walk and bash myself for being hasty and thoughtless, and take some deep breaths. It’s not the world’s end, or civilization’s end, or anything like that. It’s just a foolish setback. I’ll just need to reset myself, go back, and begin again, with some bitter lessons learned.

Done editing for today. Cheers

 

Surgery

Today’s editing was like surgery. I wrote Book Four, An Undying Quest, in a coffee-stoked and idea-infused blaze. Feeding me, the muses took me in different directions simultaneously. One over-arching arc was eventually uncovered as definitive. Excising paragraphs, merging, and clarifying the one great arc and staying true to the final concept and story involved a lot of reading, thinking, and revising.

Thank god for coffee. Terrific day of writing editing like crazy. Time to call it a day.

I might go get a doughnut.

The Heat

Now we come to the part of the novel that I say, “Huuuhhh?”

I’m editing and revising the fourth novel, An Undying Quest, in the Incomplete States series. I remember writing these chapters last December and January of this year. First, there were five chapters, which became ten, a reflection of the multiple POV. These chapters were being written in parallel in a mad heat of intensity. The muses were crazy and insistent during that time, and I sat back and typed as fast as I could.

Typing as fast as I can leads to a lot of stumbling over the keys, and a great deal of swearing as I miss a stroke, realize it and back up, muttering, “Fuck, fuck, fuck,” as I do. The chapters were interesting to edit in the first pass after writing them because sometimes the tense changed. In reflection of that, I came to see how I was sometimes doing method writing, imagining myself to be the character to take in their senses, know their thoughts, and act correctly. I wonder, in retrospect, how that writing process affects my relationships and interactions with others. It intrigues me, too, that I can’t remember what I wrote, but I remember writing and editing it.

The weave pattern of these chapters means they’re more challenging to read and edit. The twists give me pause. To track them, to ensure they’re correct and consistent, delivering the end of that stretch while staying true to the concept, arc, and ending, required me to drop back and create another document. The document’s contents are, “This happened here,” and, “That happened now.”

Yes, it’s tricky, but it delights me. That worries me that I’m not being objective.

Yes, it’s tricky.

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

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