Tag Archives: deadlines

The Finish Line

That panting sound you hear is me getting close to the end of the finish line. After weeks of increasingly hard work, I’m getting oh-so-close to finally putting Fugitives from Earth to bed. As of this morning, I have approximately 6,000 words left in the phase 2 revision; that’s only five scenes or so (a couple of them are pretty short). Once those are out of the way, we have a week-long final read-through, during which I start handing pages over to the copy-editor.

Speaking of which, I have to thank my lovely wife for volunteering to do the copyediting. She doesn’t have the technical qualifications that a lot of professional copyeditors do, and more unfortunately, she’s already read the book. However, she possess an enviable attention to detail, forthright determination, and the ability to break bad news to me gently. She’s doing me a tremendous service, and for that I am profoundly grateful.

I’m also quite grateful to be finishing Fugitives from Earth. I’m reasonably happy with the way that the story’s ending up, and I won’t be embarrassed to sell it, but still. My skills have advanced so much over the course of writing this book that I’m measurably a better writer now than I was. That’s great. But it also means that I’m finishing a novel that was, in large part, written by someone who is not as good a writer as I am now. The only way to fix that would be a complete re-write, and at this point, that’s not worth it.

That’s what the next novel is for. I’ve been thinking about it off and on for several months now, and I’m raring to go. Look foward to some information about that in an upcoming post. First, though, I’ve got a ton of short story ideas that I want to get off my chest. I also want to have a plan for mixing up shorts with my novels so that I don’t get as close to burn-out as I am now.

That’s all for the future, though. Right now, there’s only this weekend, and those last few thousand words. See you on Monday.

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Mea Culpa…Again

I just realized on Saturday that I didn’t do EITHER of my blog posts for last week. That’s by far the longest I’ve gone without posting and it ruins a reasonably consistent streak that I had going. Suffice it to say, I’m not thrilled with myself, but there’s nothing to be done about it now. And, at the very least, I had an excuse.

So, I’m just closing Part III of the novel, and my deadline for finishing Part IV is Sunday. That’s not a lot of time to write a dozen scenes, much less the climactic scenes that need to get done. So…things may get stretched. That’s okay, though; I’m not working for a major publisher and I can allow things to get squishy. Plus, some of the things I had allotted their own separate time interval–things like cover design, layout, back-cover copy, and so forth–can overlap with the copyediting phase. I’d prefer that I had enough time to really focus on each thing as it came, but whatever.

I spent this entire week working at NaNoWriMo-like intensity trying to refactor and conclude Part III, which seems like it wouldn’t be hard, but it kind of was. It seems that despite my best attempts to the contrary, my rate of production has slipped a fair amount. Obviously my prose is a little more polished and the ideas are a little more sound when I’m writing slowly, but I’m not sure the tradeoff is worth it. That’s a┬ásecondary point, though, because I need to write 2000+ words a day this week just to squeak by, and if the prose happens to suffer that’s barely worth thinking about. I will, after all, get one final revision for word choice.

As something of an aside, I find it interesting that when I NaNoWriMo ends, and I start thinking about my writing on a deeper level, I spend so much more time writing the same amount of text that it becomes almost sacred for me. I’m so reluctant to can what I have and redo it because the weight of all that time hangs so heavily over me. So I try to adapt and tweak, adapt and tweak, and in the end, more often than not, I have to can it and redo it anyway because it doesn’t work. In the long run, trying to save time, even if it is half subconscious, takes more time. Anyone else noticed that?

For better or worse, that’s no longer relevant for Fugitives from Earth because the end is so near. It’s definitely something I need to think about for the next novel, though, whether I write it for NaNoWriMo or not. Here’s hoping I don’t slow things down even more by trying to misapply the lessons I learned from FfE.

The Sitch

How do things stand at the end of week one of three? Well, I finished Part II. Parts III and IV are yet to come, so it might seem like I’m on schedule–one part per week–but I’m not. I want to have at least a few days to read through what I’ve already done and streamline it. My current edits are a bit scattershot and that’s something that will probably need work.

So things are a bit hectic. I’m still pretty optimistic about my original deadline, but some things are going to get a bit squished, I have no doubt. Strange to be so concerned about a day that’s still two and a half months away.

I’m going to do a couple of hours of writing tomorrow morning, and then not much for the rest of the weekend. Sunday is moving day, and even though we’re only moving a mile or so, I’m not going to have much time for writing until Monday at the earliest. Not the best way to spend a three-day weekend, I tell you what.

So if you don’t hear much from me for the next few days, you’ll know why. Rest assured, however, that I’m cracking down as hard as I can, trying to get as much sleep as possible, and just putting words on the page.

Until then.

Let’s Roll

As I have long held, the release date for Fugitives from Earth will be OryCon in mid-November. Let us work backward from that in order to create a rough schedule for the next couple of months, shall we?

I want to reserve a month, if at all possible, for final proofing and ordering. So that brings us to mid-October. Then, I’ll need a week or so for layout and cover design–the hard work on the cover is largely done, it just needs some tweaking–so we’ll say that brings us to October 10th. It’s my sincere hope that I can get a copyeditor to go through the whole thing in three weeks, which beings us back to September 20th.

So, then. Three weeks to finish the writing. No pressure, eh?

There’s some wiggle room in there, but not much. I can’t really afford so much as a day of slacking off, and I’m probably going to have to make some compromises on the re-write. No vast, sprawling edits, just aligning and tightening what’s already there. A week or two for line-editing, which I’ve been doing as I’m going along (and some of which will happen in that final month, anyway). You might say, then, that I have two weeks to get the plot/character portion of the novel finished.

Anyone up for a NaNoWriMo-style write-a-thon? I’ll probably need to pull 2500-3000 words a day to get things finished on time. I’ll need to write mornings and evenings. It’s strange how release can be so far off, and yet there’s so little time to get everything done.

Unfortunately, it’s even worse than it sounds. I’m moving this weekend, so until Sunday I’ve got serious competition for my attention. Then, the weekend after, I’ll be out of town at the in-laws. Gonna be hard to write there. Then there’s my weekly roleplaying game, which I’ll be preparing for. This is all stuff I really want to do, but so’s finishing FfE.

Fortunately, I think I have what it takes. If there was ever a time for me to earn my pro stripes, this is it. Damn the torpedoes, gentlemen.

A Stiff Shot in the Arm

Jay Lake made me late for work this morning.

This might not be entirely fair. It’s not like he was in my apartment keeping me from showering or eating breakfast. He didn’t call me at a bad time, or send me a Twitter DM, or anything like that. On the other hand, it was entirely his fault that he wrote a fascinating piece of advice for new writers that hit me right where I live. I couldn’t not finish reading. Check it out here, at Shimmer magazine.

Seriously, if you’re into creative activities at all, I’d highly recommend you read it before continuing.

Done? Okay. I’ve been thinking lately about goals. I pretty much have just one right now, which is to finish Fugitives from Earth before OryCon, and then to start on the next novel. That’s all very sustainable, but it’s slow. Very, very slow. And right now, I need to do something, even something emotionally risky, to show myself that I’m making progress on my career.

So I’m going to throw caution to the wind and submit a damned story. I’ve written a full dozen shorts in the last year of varying quality, and a few of them are even what I might call “finished.” But I’ve got too much emotional attachment to those; we’ll just call those practice. What I’m going to do instead is take this weekend as a break from FfE, finish a half-written story that I feel is really workable, and submit it somewhere, anywhere that’ll pay.

It’ll probably get rejected, but that’s the point as much as anything. I feel like there’s a glass ceiling of possible rejection that forcing me to stay close to the ground. Rather than being afraid of the possibility of rejection, I want to feel its certainty and know that it can’t kill me. And like Mr. Lake says, with every rejection, the next one gets easier to take. I want to have that trunkful of rejection slips he mentions, because that means that I’m making progress. I’m still writing, and if I’m challenging myself, I’m probably getting better. And hopefully before that trunk fills up, somebody will decide that one of my pieces is worth buying.

I know that writing probably won’t ever make me much money, but sitting around waiting for the “perfect moment” doesn’t pay much at all. So, time to throw caution to the wind, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

Whew!

On a slightly more prosaic note, one reason I feel comfortable doing this is that I’ve been making excellent progress with Fugitives from Earth. I’m probably 15% done at this point, I’d say. I have about 5,000 words to write before Part I is complete, and I expect that Part II will go somewhat more quickly. The last half of the book will be the real sticking point, so I want to build up as much momentum as possible before charging into it. Still, things are going well.

So, 5,000 words to finish my story by this weekend, with the final email going out to some market by Monday night. Wish me luck.

Compulsions

Yesterday I was browsing Netflix Instant and I stumbled across an A&E documentary series that demanded to be watched. It’s called Hoarders; perhaps you’ve heard of it? Each episode documents the cleanup/intervention of one or two compulsive hoarders, showing their incredibly hostile reactions to people trying to throw away the garbage that has utterly consumed their homes. It doesn’t go for cheap, exploitative finger-pointing, but tries to get into the head of someone who’s life is run by their obsessions.

It’s kind of cathartic to watch. “At least I’m not like those people,” you say, watching a woman break down in tears because she needs to throw away the rotted pumpkins on her floor. Yet, the longer I watched, the more I identified with those people. In one of the episodes I watched, a young man with clinical OCD had become convinced that if he threw away any of the dog hair clogging his carpet, he was directly shortening the lifespan of his dog. He loved his dog, of course, and so even while he was telling the show’s host, “This is stupid, this is so stupid,” throwing away that dog hair took a physical effort.

There are times–more times than I like to admit–where writing is the same way for me. I consider myself a good writer, and I think that I could make a career out of it. But when I actually sit down to write, the idea of not writing well paralyzes me with fear. I don’t mean failing at writing, I just mean writing poor paragraphs and scenes. That’s stupid, right? Obviously your writing is never perfect, and the earlier the draft, the less perfect the writing. The only way you fail at writing is not to write, and yet…it’s damned hard to start typing. And then I feel guilty that I haven’t started yet, and that starts a this downward spiral.

I don’t like to complain too much on the blog here; I feel like nobody wants to listen to me whine. Yet, I think this is literally by biggest obstacle to getting published and getting a career, and if there’s any chance that airing it to the world can help be overcome it, then I’m willing to tolerate some uninterested people.

You can’t tell a depressed person, “Just cheer up.” Likewise, telling myself, “Aw, just write,” doesn’t seem likely to help. I’m not sure what the solution is, here. I’m going to try to write a thousand words a day over the next week, just to get back into gear. It’s always hardest to start writing when I stop for awhile. Then, we’ll see. And hopefully, next post, I’ll have some better news.

Oh, and I don’t want to sound like, “wah wah, my life is hard,” because it really isn’t. So, don’t expect these types of posts to suddenly become the norm.

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Also, within the next two weeks, you’re going to see some changes around here. I’m finally going to be adding such novelties as a blogroll and list of links, and more than likely some pretty major formatting changes. I’m not sure what’s going to happen exactly, but I do know this: you won’t want to miss it.

A Very Productive Day

As of just a few minutes ago, I’m halfway through my Fugitives from Earth revision, and probably only a week or two from sending it to the beta readers. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the power of the deadline.

Also, I’m starting to actually feel good about this novel again. I spent a lot of time cringing during my re-read, as you probably remember. Fortunately, the draft’s looking a lot better for a spot of revision, and I daresay I won’t be humiliated for sending it out to the beta readers.

Not that it’s going to be perfect, or anything. That’s going to take a little more time.