I faced a number of challenges and accomplishments in 2012, both personally and professionally. I completed and published my first full-length novel, The Daemon Whisperer. I stood by my father’s side as his medical advocate for most of the year while his health slowly declined and then arranged for his care after he’d passed in October. I worked on engaging projects in my programming job, only to be laid off in November due to the impending fiscal cliff of doom. (DOOM! doom!) In December I picked up writing the next book in my Liminals series, and then began edits for the first book in my Sci-Fi series at the end of the month over the holidays, all while job hunting.
Oh, I left out the up and down battle I’ve run with my epilepsy. At times over this past year medication has kept things well under control. Recently, despite all the meditation, yoga, vitamins, and exercise, I’ve slipped downhill in my fight. What can I say–epilepsy sucketh! Can I get a hell yeah?
As you can imagine in this 2012 retrospective, there are lessons I will take and continue to learn from, grow, and nurture. Despite the frustrations, I wouldn’t change last year’s journey for the world.
If you remember my post from last year, then you know I don’t do resolutions. Instead I keep a running list of goals and tasks. Well, multiple lists of to-dos. (Don’t laugh, they’re sorted by subject…anyway.) I’ve noticed something wonderfully awesome, and I wanted to share. I’ve blogged and tweeted before about how writing gets easier with practice. Recently, I’ve hit a similar threshold with editing.
Now, I know I only have two books published, so let me give you a bit more perspective on my writing path. I’ve also written the first two books of a Sci-Fi trilogy, The Depths of Memory, and have another two books (in two different series) which are mid-process. The Sci-Fi books I’ve edited a ridiculous number of times. I can’t rightly count how many, to be frank, because I’ve rehashed the material many times over the years. There’s a long story there and well … whatever.
You get the point. I haven’t reached this editing threshold through just working on two books. It’s taken years, at least for me … your results may vary. I’m unusually stubborn. You might be pliable as a willow frond. I can’t predict these variables! Right?
Yet want I want to convey is the sense of where I’m at now. The utter freedom. I’ve had it with writing for some time. Once I’ve imagined a scene, or at least the components and have the base elements of the research I need, the words flow. Heck, even if I’m missing something, I’ll put in placeholders and come back later and plug-in the things I didn’t have at the time.
I mean, honestly, do you know about pentilic tiles? No? I bet you know about frescoes, though? Thus, research! I mean, I’ve held those little buggers in my hands in Pompeii, but could I remember the name? Nope. Anyway, I digress.
There’s a freedom to editing too, and it comes with practice. I used to hate editing. From what I hear, it’s the norm. Yes, it sucks when you’re up against a deadline. I’m not talking about external forces, I’m speaking of the mechanics, and the creative flow of the editing process.
Revisions are the most creative part, when rework is required to enhance the flow or cohesive integrity of the story. What do I love most about revisions? Visualizing the architectural flow of the plot, like a spider’s web, and tracking all the ways the revision ‘threads’ into flow, for continuity. Invariably one new section requires slight to moderate adjustments in other areas, and catching all the connecting areas of the web is a wonderful challenge.
Then there’s the rework of catching overused phrases, or where characters and/or settings just aren’t fleshed out well enough. Those are easy to do once they’re located.
The repetitive, but oddly satisfying work, includes reducing unnecessary adverbs, removing crutch words (whichever yours are), honing the wording in key scenes where you want the reader’s focus drawn (I mean, strive to improve it everywhere, but especially there), and eliminating passive voice where ever possible.
Those are editing steps I take. But then there’s the mental leap: letting go and accepting the process. Treating it as a journey, and not a sprint.
It’s the same for me as writing, or exercising, dealing with my epilepsy, or any number of things. Yes, I have an end goal in mind. Sometimes there’s a daily time limit, sometimes not, depending on the activity. Sometimes it’s just about the mindset. My head space, if you will.
Yes, there’s the butt in chair, hands on keyboard, internet browsing off aspect. The other part is knowing the steps, and a willingness to dig in and do the work until it’s done, simply because you love it.
No, you may not love every step, but you love your book. Or, you did once, back before you wrote it and edited it twelve times and then worked it over with a chainsaw with your editor four times. Yeah, back then. THAT book.
That’s the book you’re editing and the book you’ll eventually publish. When it’s ready, and you’re proud enough of it to stand behind it and put your name on it.
All you have to do is embrace the journey. Your journey.
And put your butt in a chair.