The Writing Moment

Eighteen percent of The Light of Memories remains to be edited and revised in the third revision session. Small percentage but over a hundred pages. Once it’s done, another round of reading it through will begin. Figure I’ll read and edit until I reach the point that I’m not confused by anything I’m reading, that it reads smoothly and fully, that I’m not pausing to make corrections.

Then I’ll offer it to others. So, maybe this century. If not, the next.

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.


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.

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.



The Character Dream

Kanrin came to me in my dreams.

Kanrin is one of the main characters in my current work in progress, a series called Incomplete States. I’m editing the last book in the series with dreams of publishing them next year.

I’ve recently been dealing much with Kanrin. A fully-fleshed character who is well-understood, he’s the main character/star of the current chapters being edited and revised. It’s going well, meaning no problems have been discovered.

In the first dream, Kanrin and I were there, and he was talking about his situation. We were outside for this, and I was watching him in profile. The day was late, with night’s purple shades being drawn. A chilly wind and dropping temperatures had Kanrin in a jacket with his hands in his pockets. Wearing a hat pulled low, he was looking out over a rough, rolling green landscape as he talked. Past him in the dimming light were pastures, fences, and stone walls. I don’t know if he was aware that I was there. He didn’t deliver anything that I didn’t already know, but he did put it in some new way.

Awakening, I considered going to the computer and working on the ms. As it was four thirty in the dark and I was still groggy with sleep, I declined and nestled in for more zzzs.

Imagine my reaction when I dreamed of Kanrin again, essentially talking about the same thing that he addressed before. Okay, odd. I must be really into those chapters. Perhaps something bothered my subconscious.

About thirty minutes had passed since I’d awakened from the first dream to when I awakened from the second dream. It remained too early to go to work. I went back to sleep.

Which gave Kanrin a third opportunity to visit me, addressing again the ideas, concept, and story that he’d addressed before.

It was seven thirty when I awoke from the third dream. I got up now, but didn’t go to work. I went into my usual routine of feeding the rug floofs. If whatever Kanrin was sharing was important, I was certain it’d come out when I was editing and revising today.

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


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.


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.

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