It Begins … Again


Well, last night and the night before I did something I haven’t done in a long, long time.

I opened my WIP manuscript and did some editing.

It’s amazing. It’s been about 18 months since I even looked at the stupid thing. I realized several months ago it’s going to need major revisions, but I lacked the energy to aggressively attack those issues, so I let it languish a while longer. (Here’s an interesting phenomenon: When I go to write or edit anything – anything at all – I get sleepy. Any other writers experience this or similar?) Well, I got tired of looking at it there on my desktop, mocking me. So I opened it and started … well, editing.

I’ve called this my second draft, but you know what? It’s really still my first. I had no idea what the heck I was doing when I wrote this thing in the first place. I had no idea what story structure looked like, what things should go where. I was armed with the maxim Omit Needless Words and I interpreted “needless” as “adverbs ending in –ly” so I set out to destroy them. Now I read through the prose and it feels like I’m looking at someone else’s work. Someone else who’s a two-bit hack who has no business trying to be published.

I look back on the evolution of this thing and realize how many mistakes I made along the way. I wrote it as a serial for my deviantART page and the readers I’d acquired there (all but gone now, since I’ve been SOOOO inactive for SOOOO long). So the books isn’t really divided into the logical scenes it might’ve been had I planned it as … well, as a novel instead of as a serial. In fact, I never intended for this to be a story at all. My wife basically hounded (read: nagged) me into keeping it going because she really thought it was something special. I guess time will show but what started as a writing exercise finally grew into a complete, if not well-written, story of its own.

Now, I have to fix it, and the more I learn about the craft of writing, the more I realize it’s broken. It has plot holes, research issues, prose problems, and is completely devoid of –ly adverbs outside of dialog (which I don’t intend to change, btw). But the basis for the idea is there, and I wonder if it’s worth the effort required or if I should just abandon it and start something new.

It has its fans. My buddy Raga, for one. I met her because she found my blog through Bryce’s site and fell in love with one of my characters. She read the story from start to finish and came out of hiding when I called my lurkers out. She is my greatest non-spousal fan and biggest non-spousal supporter and I’m eternally grateful for her. (She’s a fantastic, loyal and loving friend, too, if I’ve never said it before.) Because of her, and people like her, I don’t know if I can just give up on my poor, battered, deformed, miscreant little manuscript. I don’t know at what point I should move on. Or rewrite the damn thing (which isn’t an exciting idea, at all). Or forget it, leave it as it, compile it into a PDF for those who are interested and let it be finished. Move to a new project.

*Sigh* Many decisions, few brains. What to do?

Any opinions?

-JDT-

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13 thoughts on “It Begins … Again

  1. I have a dirty dirty mind. You know that. You really have to stop opening posts with sentences like that first one in this post.

    HA! Yeah, I guess I need to account for the WIGSF factor a bit better than I did this time, don’t I? Sorry bud!

  2. I will tell you that editing is like that. I’m trying to wrap up the edits on FAITH & THE UNDEAD and find it taxing and annoying. I’d much prefer to be working on book two right now but I know in the end I have to get this first one out there.

    Now mind you this doesn’t mean that I don’t have things I’ve put to the side. JOTA still mocks me, but deep in my heart I know I’ll pick it up when the time is right. For now FAITH & THE UNDEAD is the most important thing for me.

    If you get a chance I’ve posted a sneak peek over on undeadtrilogy.wordpress.com.

    Hang tough bud, sometimes we have to make decisions we don’t like. If you are talking about Ghost Hunters, I’d finish it. Don’t tinker to much. Get it done and subbed someplace like Library of Horror. I’m sure Dr. Pus would love to have it!

    Thanks for stopping by and the advice, bud. Appreciate you sounding off. 🙂

  3. First and foremost, I’m ecstatic to hear you’re dipping a toe in the water again.

    Aw, thanks sweetie. 🙂

    But your question is a toughie. It seems like the specter of GH really sucked the life out of you. At this point, I’d say the question is *drumroll* what do you WANT to do? You knew I was going to say that. But it’s true. If the thought of making this book publishable fills you with dread, maybe you ought to let it go while you work on another book. If it’s as bad as you say, then it’ll probably take as long to get it fixed as it would to write a whole ‘nother book.

    Lots o’ truth in that last para, baby. I know you’re right. I’ve been pecking away since I wrote the post and I have to say it’s moving. Slow and steady, like a glacier, but moving. I’ve combined a lot of chapters — because they’re really only scenes — into others and cut out a lot of BS. Still — I can’t tell if the prospect of getting it publishable fills me with dread or if I’m hit by that sleepy thing EVERY time I try to write. It’s a lot of work, yes, but deciding whether it’s worth it is hard.

    But if the thought of working on GH fills you with anticipation, then I say go for it. I felt that excitement for BVA when I was finally ready to start writing again, and it’s working out. I couldn’t have manufactured the excitement, wouldn’t have worked.

    I can’t wait any longer for excitement to jump me. I’ll be 80 before I do anything. I have to write through these doldrums, I think.

    Play with it for a few days and observe how it makes you feel. You’ve got nothing but time.

    Well … yes and no. Our situation is deteriorating, remember.

    • I don’t think the sleepy thing is dread. I get it too. But my point about feeling excitement is that if you aren’t excited by GH specifically, then you should work on something else that you are excited about. In other words, don’t feel like you have to finish it if you aren’t feeling it.

      Hm. Interesting. You get it too? What do you suppose it is? Supreme cases of procrastination? I can’t figure it. It really, REALLY ticks me off, though.

  4. Ugh, I hate editing. If it were me I would go over it again just because I know it is a skill I will not acquire by avoidance. Sheesh, even the things I am passionate about have parts I don’t enjoy. Buggers.

    I know, what is UP with that?! 😉 Thanks Jaymie. Very solid advice there.

  5. Reading between the lines, it sounds to me like you’re looking for permission to move on to a fresh start with a new project. Something that excited you 1.5 years ago is no longer where you’re at. It’s really nice to have people who encourage you not to lose heart when you’re blocked on a project, but if it’s not where your heart is anymore, maybe it’d be best to move on and start something new.

    Y’know Sparky, I think that’s pretty good advice. Matter of fact, I’m starting to wonder why I can’t do BOTH, y’know? 😀 I don’t think I’m asking for permission to move on, but I do think I’m a person who likes to finish what they start, so moving on feels like quitting on this one. No reason that has to be the case. Thanks!

  6. Hi am trying to reply to this over the phone so lots of typos and such.

    I have been in a situation exactly like yours with a long short story. If you are struggling with structure u got to get the skeleton rt first.

    Simplest way to do this:

    get a bunch of index cards

    take each scene in your wip condense into a line or two and write on index cards

    say u got 200 I dex cards

    now take a biggish table or boosts works best and arrange and rearrange them till you are more or less happy

    feel free to add cards with a line or two on new scenes

    likewise feel free to delete scenes by removing some cards

    now number the cards and follow for structure

    a cheap softboard is best so u can always have the cards before you as you write

    you don’t have to stick to order and number of cards you got in ur final arrangement but it will help give u the big picture and an idea of structure. I promise

    hope this helps

    The tried and true Index Card method! Fantastic stuff, Damyanti, and yes, it helps. I actually have index card software I can use for this. Getting the information ON the cards? Well, that’s the tricky part. 🙂 Thank you so much for working so hard to get me this comment and hugs from oceans apart!

  7. I get sleepy every time I write. Coffee doesn’t help in the least.

    I’ve noticed it happens whenever I even THINK about doing ANYTHING writing related: Editing, writing, plotting, heck, even writing exercises. As soon as I decide I have the time, the sleepiness sets in. WEIRD.

    Whatever you decide to do, make sure it is what you want to do and not what somebody told you to do. But you know that.

    I’ve got novels I’ve finished and those I haven’t. What do you want to be able to say 6 months from now? Those 6 months will pass whether you work hard on this or not.

    You’ll figure it out. We’ll support you.

    Thanks. I know I’m needy in that way and I’m trying to grow up. In six months I’d like to say I did something. So I’m doing something. Slow, tedious, but sure.

  8. The first book I wrote needs a major rewrite, since I also had no idea what I was doing. Reading books on craft and joining a crit group helped me to see that my work was crap. No one but my husband, former co-worker and mother-in-law has read it. I haven’t even opened it in about a year. The only binding it’ll likely ever see is the purple folder it’s in. Sometimes it’s best to move on, but only you can know for sure.

    I have one like that, LOL. It’s NEVER going to see the light of day again. I thought about self-publishing it, and my wife gently (and I mean that, very tactfully) discouraged me. She said it wasn’t the right story as a little bit of misdirection (because saying it was crap would’ve wounded my widdew ego too much). I don’t think this one’s total crap, but it does need major reconstructive surgery. We’ll see. 😉 Thanks, CV.

  9. Is that the book you had posted on your other blog? I haven’t been on that one in a while, so I don’t even know if you’re still blogging there.

    The one I’m currently editing is posted over there in rough draft form. (I’ll be pulling it down a few weeks before I start seeking representation for it.) The one I said would never see the light of day, however, is stored safely on my PC (and why I keep it, I’ll never know; my wife says to use it as a marker for how far I’ve come.)

  10. Um, would that be the Darcness blog, like the press-me-idiot button on the right might suggest?

    Things getting confusing? No, my fiction blog is over here. THIS is the Darcness blog. Let me know what’s confusing over there so I can clean it up! Thanks, Courtney!

  11. I still check deviant and watch your page! (:

    Well thanks! It’s been a long time since I’ve updated my fiction blog OR my devART page though. 🙂

    It’s fun getting back into something that makes you happy. Maybe a little scary, too, but you’ll do great. Sometimes the best things in life need to be stepped away from for awhile to realize their potential, or if you should move on to something new.

    It’s kind of like a relationship.

    You’re right. I think the time away helped. I can see this thing with a much more jaundiced eye and do what’s necessary to improve it. 🙂

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