Tag Archive for novel writing

Update On The Proofreading Mom Dilemma

You may or may not recall that my mother, who is one of my beta readers, received an edited version of my first book, with most of the naughty bits taken out. You can read about it here. A while after the book came out, we Skyped, and she casually mentioned that she used my dad’s Kindle to download and read the published version as she wanted to know what the finished product was like. And then she mentioned even more casually how much she liked it.

I have a sneaking suspicion that this might be her way of telling me that she’s okay with the gay sex.

Cyclical Depression and the Joy of Writing

No blog posts until just before Spectacularly Broken was released, and that was over two months ago. The hell?

Unfortunately, this happens to me sometimes. Without trying to make it sound pretty – I have depression, severe anxiety and adult ADD. There is a lot going on in my head. I’ve struggled with this most of my life, and it has all steadily gotten worse to the point where I can no longer function without medication. I still try to keep the amount of meds low, taking some of them only on an as-needed basis (which is cleared with my health professional, of course). Unfortunately, even the meds can’t fully pull me out of the valley when my depression hits a low point, and then I tend to distance myself from the internet. Facebook posts are less frequent, I don’t tend to answer emails, I just plain don’t interact. That goes for real life too. I don’t generally leave the house much during these episodes, unless I absolutely have to, or I make myself take a walk in an attempt to feel better. So if you’ve tried to contact me, please forgive me for not getting back to you right away. I will eventually. At some point, the hypomania hits, and then I’m productive and full of energy, I clean the house, I cook and freeze food like a crazy person. I dance a Vienna waltz around the kitchen with my son.

(No joke. My kitchen is huge. It’s the largest room in my house, actually.)

Most important of all, I write. I get close to despairing when I’m in the valley because my head won’t let me write, and when I force myself to do it anyway, what comes out is the worst piece of writing in the history of mankind, or at least it seems that way to me. And then, once I’ve managed the climb, I’ve got ideas and energy and I write and write and it’s awesome.

I just wanted to put this out there. Now I’m gonna go back to writing about an artist and a baseball player and a little sister who steals condoms to use as water balloons.

Not This Again

New writing endeavor, new protagonist. I thought that after Lysander, who makes an art form out of being contrary, I could handle anything, but nooo. Protag and I are already at odds.

 

Me: “‘Kay, good plot and all, but this is a romance, so we should probably start working on your love interest.”

Protag: “Oh, he‘s cute!”

Me: “…that’s the antagonist.”

Protag: “Gimme!”

Me: “No! You’re shy and he’s an asshole!”

Protag: “Is there a gentle, vulnerable soul hiding beneath his rough facade?”

Me: “No. That’s not how this book works.”

Protag: “Gimme anyway!”

 

*headdesk*

Character Attitude

Most authors I know occasionally have the same problem I do – sassy characters who just won’t take direction. Usually, they make for the most interesting protagonists because their ‘tude is memorable and entertaining. Lysander was definitely one such protagonist. When I was emailing a friend the other day and tried to describe what writing him was like, it went something like this…

“Okay, let’s start on this scene where you talk to Finn-”

WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF MONSTROSITY IS HE WEARING?

“Um, who cares? You’re supposed to be talking about-”

OH GOD IT’S TIE DYE. KILL ME NOW.

“No, stop being so dramatic. First you need to-”

I REFUSE TO LOOK AT TIE DYE UNLESS I’M REALLY REALLY HIGH. ALSO, HAVE YOU MET ME?

“…fine, I guess we’ll deal with the tie-dye crisis first then.”

WITH FIRE!

“You are not setting your cousin on fire.”

BUT HE’S WEARING TIE DYE!

On Writing

…or rather, on finishing. Because I feel like sharing the sage advice I’ve acquired and been putting to use.

Get it? GET IT?

I’ll wait.

…anyway.

I’ve made up stories since¬† I can remember. By myself, with friends, plain or illustrated, spoken, written, or often nothing but a play in my head. And I always knew I could write. Despite the occasional self-doubts, which are entirely normal, it’s probably the one constant thing that I could always fall back on, that confidence. Like some people feel destined to be musicians, or painters, I always knew I was a writer.

While I was never perfect – and I have a Mount-Everest-sized pile of weird-ass, half-finished stories that argue for the prosecution – I kept at it. And I’m still at it.

I’ve learned over the years, both through my own experiences and from drinking in the advice of accomplished authors I admire, that there are two basic truths that apply to the vast majority of fiction writers:

1. Ideas are a dime a dozen.

2. Finishing is the hard part.

This is pretty much why, even though you hear lots of people saying they have a great idea for a book, those books hardly ever get written. Putting stuff on the page is the hard part. Trudging through tens of thousands (or sometimes hundreds of thousands) of words is the hard part. And it took me a long time to figure out how to do it. I still have trouble with it. But I know now that I can do it, because I have done it, and that helps a ton. But the most important thing?

Just finish it.

No matter how ugly. No matter how stupid you think it is. No matter that this new idea you just had sounds twenty times better than the crap you’re trying to get done.

I put post-its in my writing space that say stuff like “Just. Write!” and “Don’t even think about stopping”. I instruct my husband to remind me not to overthink or waffle around.

Just finish it.

It’s hard. It’s incredibly difficult for a large percentage of writers, but they all figured out a way to get past it, which is how they got published. It’s a mental tour de force for me, and when I write endings I feel sick, desperate, overwhelmed, ready to scream and tear my hair out in frustration. But when it’s finally done, it’s like I just finished a marathon. I feel drunk on the accomplishment for days, if not weeks. And then, when I come back down to earth and have my head on straight, I edit. That’s usually when I realize things like Hey, that wasn’t so crap after all and This part works much better than I thought.

While editing isn’t a walk in the park either, I do it with the knowledge that the hardest part is over with. I finished. Doesn’t matter what. Doesn’t matter how. Just that I did.