Time is Against Me Now

This always happens, damn it.  I give myself a reasonable, decent timeframe to finish the line edit for The Persistence of Memories, and something comes along and says “OH HEY You need to get this done first, there’s a couple of errands you also need to do outside the house, and oh, by the way, Day Jobbery has been busier than usual, so chances of you sneaking any writing in during the day is slim to nil.  Oh, and remember those blogs that you ignored all weekend because you were too busy shopping and doing housework, and watching the new X-Files episodes?”

Grumble grumble whine whine.

But you know, I’m not going to let it get to me.  This has happened enough times that the most I can do is work around it.  I’ve read too many blog writers and webcomic artists that have this same issue, and that’s all you can do:  soldier on the best way you can.  I say this, as it seems my original schedule has gone a bit wonky.  I’m pushing the release of The Persistence of Memories out a few more weeks, mainly because after this line edit is done, I’m going to need to give it another surgery.  It’s great as it is, but it’s still far too long at nearly 169k words.  That’s actually about 15k more than A Division of Souls.  The response to that book, by the way, has been quite positive, except for the words no writer really wants to hear: it’s too long.  And Book 3 is even longer than Book 2, which is not a good sign at all.

But!  But!  It’s a piece of art!  You’re supposed to savor the pace both when it’s fast and slow!  Why does no one understand my genius?

Heh.  Yeah, right.  More like, “….Oh.  Yeah.  Huh.  You’re right, that bit’s pretty sluggish.  I should definitely speed it up.”

The thing with self-publishing is that you’re going to see it, warts and all.  The original 150k version of ADoS is still out there as an e-book and a trade until I get around to re-editing that.  On the one hand, as a writer, I feel like a failure because I put the book out there well before it was completely ready, and now No One Will Ever Trust Me as an Author Ever Again.

On the other hand, I can just get back on the horse, fix what needs fixing, present it again, and move on.

Whatever works, kids.

 

Granted, I’m also giving myself quite a lot to do in the next six months.  Editing and revising books 2 and 3 in the trilogy, as well as writing Walk in Silence.  My original plan for WiS was to have it released in April, but due to the trilogy editing and re-editing, work has been embarrassingly slow on it (about 2 handwritten pages a day, which really isn’t much).  I’m thinking that one will end up being released during the fall semester.  I’m okay with that…as long as it’s done by some point this year.

And then, maybe, finally, I’ll be able to work on new stuff.  Maybe.

On Writing Longhand

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Featuring the Pilot Metropolitan pen that A got me for Christmas. I haven’t used a nib pen in ages!

I’ve been writing and editing via my PC for so long that it still feels weird to be writing new things longhand.  The last major project I wrote longhand was The Phoenix Effect; the trilogy was written completely on the computer, using MS Write and MS Word.  I still have the 3″ floppies containing all the early .wri files, come to think of it.  I did do a lot of the world building and the brainstorming longhand, mostly on scrap paper from work (these were the Yankee Candle years), but the new words were all generated downstairs in the Belfry, tapping away on my PC.

Even later incomplete and/or trunked projects like Love Like Blood, Can’t Find My Way Home and Two Thousand and even the earlier versions of Walk in Silence were started or at least primarily written on the computer.  I liked working that way for varying reasons: I could chart my daily word count and my production in general; I could edit while writing when it was clear it was needed; I could open multiple documents for reference use and note taking; and peripherally, I could keep myself amused and entertained with my mp3 collection playing in the background.

Writing on the PC can be a great thing, and I still enjoy it, but over the years I’ve realized its limitations as well.  I have a penchant for distraction, whether it’s multiple games of FreeCell and Solitaire, futzing around with the tags and the arrangement of my mp3 collection, or the continued refreshing of my Twitter feed.  I’ve also been hiding myself in Spare Oom far too long.  And then there’s the fact that I already work from home, so I’m spending most of the day back there already, sitting on my duff for eight hours.  Spare Oom may not be a man cave, but over the years it began to feel like I was using it as a hideaway from the world.  It’s the one room in the apartment that has the best view (see the banner picture over at Walk in Silence), but I don’t look out that window nearly as much as I should.

 

Starting up my personal journal a few years back was my way of combating all this.  Its original purpose was to divert my kvetching habits from social media to paper and curtail them somewhat, and it worked almost immediately.  I also made it a habit to write its entries away from my desk.  For the last year or so I’ve been writing in it during my midmorning break, sitting on the loveseat across the room where I can glance out the window as well.  Much to my own surprise, I’ve kept it up consistently since then, skipping only weekends and vacations.

Early last year, when it was clear that I’d be wrapping up the trilogy project by year’s end, I started writing the new Mendaihu Universe story.  This was the first new story I’d be starting completely longhand, in a yellow-covered 3-subject spiral notebook I picked up at Target.  This too was kept up consistently until late last year when I put it aside to self-release the trilogy.  Once that project is finally wrapped, I’ll be able to pick it up again.  In the meantime, though, I’ve been starting new projects longhand, such as this latest version of Walk in Silence.  My return to artwork and renewed dedication to weekly poetry have finally torn me away from the PC as well.  In addition to that, I’ve been trying to make a concerted effort to work more often on my laptop out in the living room (where I am currently typing this) if I need to use MS Word.  And yesterday afternoon during the two football playoff games I sat at the dining table, writing a few WiS pages.

I’d commented elsewhere that I don’t plan on turning myself into a Luddite writer; I just feel the need to change up the habits to keep everything fresh.  I can view using the PC as a positive work process rather than a distraction or a slog.  I’m not chained to it, and shouldn’t be.  When I was working on the trilogy back in the early ’00s, working on the PC was something I looked forward to as an evening process, maybe even as ‘going to the office’ for my writing career, and I kept that separate from the rest of my life.  Returning to longhand after so long is sort of a return to that.

I’m curious to see where it takes me next.

More Thoughts on Self-Publishing

I’ve been seeing a few articles here and there lately, both old and new, about the business of self-publishing.  They’ll come from both sides of the conversation.  Some say the field has never been more robust and user-friendly, so it’s worth checking out; others will admit that it’s a viable avenue, but hint that you’re probably better off building up patience and going pro.  [I usually avoid the oh god don’t do it, you’ll shoot yourself in the foot and will NEVER BE A LEGITIMATE WRITER EVER articles.  In fact I usually avoid any article that hints that Everything Is Ruined Forever.]

I’ll admit, it’s not for the weak, and it’s not for the Day Tripper either.  You’ve got to dedicate time, space, and money to it.  You’re doing most of the work yourself, or at least farming it out to freelancers, and that doesn’t come free.  You’re essentially producing, funding and recording your own album, in musical terms.

But that’s not to say that the non-writing part of it is like pulling teeth, especially if you’re going it completely alone like I am.  It’s career knowledge, and it will definitely come in handy down the road, even if you end up going pro and signing with a publisher and/or an agent.

Formatting can be a tricky bastard, both for e-books and physical books.  Both have their own idiosyncrasies that need to be ironed out and tamed before they should be sent out into the wild.  Editing is just as tricky; there’s a reason writers joke about reading their own work using their Editor Brain rather than their Writer Brain.  The cover may not be tricky to put together, but you certainly need to have an artist’s eye (and again, not the Writer Brain looking at it).   In essence, you’re looking at the same object from multiple and often conflicting angles.

As I’ve said here before, I haven’t been doing all the work on the Bridgetown Trilogy on my own because I don’t trust outsiders toying with my work (or worse, that I think I can do it so much better than the pros).  I’ve been doing it because I want to.  I want to learn how to do it, and how to do it right.  Okay, I admit, there’s a streak of selfishness there, that I enjoy being self-taught rather than shown how to do it, because that’s how I understand it more fully and completely.  But the point remains:  it can be done, if you’re willing to dedicate the time and faith to it.

After all, that’s the whole trick to writing, isn’t it?

 

ADoS Update: Galley Edit Done!

YES!  The galley edit for A Division of Souls is finally DONE.  Which means all I need to do is do one final reformat and cleanup, upload the new file, and the print version will be available at CreateSpace for all to ogle at and buy.

In the meantime, Things I’ve Learned Via Self-Publishing So Far:

–Preparing the e-book is a hell of a lot easier than the print version.  E-book formatting entails fewer fiddly bits.  Create and upload cover, create a hyperlinked table of contents, fix any typos and errors, basically do what the Smashwords site suggests.  Boom, done.

–Formatting the print version, on the other hand, entails the following: create a wraparound cover, write the back cover summary, delete the table of contents, right justification of the main novel, order a proof copy for galley editing, fix the kerning errors that come from right justification, fix orphan paragraph screwiness, make informed decision about the font and line spacing (Garamond 12 with 1.15 line spacing works just dandy), etc etc etc.

–On the plus side, do the e-book first:  that way you’ve already got most of the heavy work done, leaving you with just the reformatting, cover creation and galley editing.

–Selling yourself on various platforms really does boil down to trying to get on that impulse-buy table, and keeping yourself visible.  Sales are currently dead for ADoS all around at the moment, but that’s mainly because I’ve been avoiding the sales part of things while working on the galley edit (and the TPoM e-book edit).  But when I was briefly featured on NoiseTrade Books, I got a good couple hundred downloads, and that ain’t bad at all.

–I still really don’t like sales, but it’s a necessary evil.  It’s gotta be done, so I’ll do it. Even if I hate it.

–The galley edit goes a lot quicker if, y’know, you actually work on it.

–Related, if you’ve got an extremely full plate already and it’s the December holiday season, it’s kind of understandable if it falls by the wayside.  As long as you pick it up again.

–I really like the quick turnaround time between creation and release.  I mean really like it.  It makes the nonconformist rebel in me all giddy.  Granted, I need to keep in mind that that’s no excuse for releasing a steaming bowl of crap.   We will sell no wine before it’s time, in other words.

–I just seriously aged myself there with that last sentence.  I’m turning 45 in a few weeks, so I suppose it can’t be helped.