Editing isn’t easy, but it’s necessary

The hardest part of writing is editing.

The thing is when you’re writing that first draft you think you are the BEST WRITER EVER. Every word seems to flow out easily. The story feels fantastic! This is the best thing ever! It’s so original! Everyone is going to love it! This is as close to cloud nine as you are going to get in the writing process. Trust me.

But it’s a great experience and a good place to be!

Then you finish and it’s time for revisions. You  might think you don’t need revisions, but you do. So you go over the first draft and you make necessary changes and this part is pretty painful. You’ll see things you never noticed the first go through. You’ll spot logical errors and inconsistencies that are downright embarrassing. You’ll notice some characters are flat, some are ridiculous, some are unrealistic. WAIT, how did John get THERE, he’s supposed to be over here. And did I seriously just make a character stand from a standing position? You’ll spot grammatical errors, spelling errors, missing words, plot problems, etc.

And when this process is done you’ll think: Man! NOW it’s just about perfect.

At this point writers can go one of two directions. They can send the story to betas or to an editor. I chose to go with betas because I suspected there would be other major changes that would render editing moot. So off to the betas the story went and of course it came back with even MORE necessary corrections.

I haven’t even reached the point of sending my piece to a proper editor yet, and already it only barely resembles it’s original form.

I’m tired, irritated and frustrated and convinced that it’s CRAP.

Where is the shine from that first draft? Where is the confidence? I don’t know. I lost it somewhere between John’s teleporting and ‘I am must protect her’. Still, I know this is a necessary pain so I’ll push through.

Who knew writing could be such hard work!

Guess I Need a Hobby

I often hear people saying things like:

“I’m retiring… guess I’ll have to find a hobby now.”

“My kids are moving out, I’ll need to find a hobby to keep busy!”

And I wonder; WHAT?

Seriously, how hard is it to ‘find’ a hobby? They always say it with this hopeless tone like they have NO IDEA what they’ll do with their time.

What would I do if I didn’t have a job? ALL THE THINGS!

I’d learn violin finally, I’d take singing lessons, I’d continue my writing, I’d make more Youtube videos, I’d volunteer at all the places I wish I could volunteer, I’d play all those video games collecting dust on my shelf, I’d finally finish that damned Tardis blanket, I’d learn how to quilt, I’d study Mandarin again, and French, and German…

Heck, I do most of those things already with a 60 hour work week.

Finding a hobby isn’t hard, it’s finding TIME for all the hobbies I have and want that’s hard!

I suppose it’s hard when you’re a parent though. If you give 100% of your energy to parenting you’ll develop tunnel vision. Your kids will become your hobby but when you’re single and childless, like me, the world is your oyster. All the hobbies are there, just in the peripheral and it’s easy to see them because you don’t have anything but work to stand in your field of view.

For those newly retiring folks, don’t worry. It’ll be easy. You’ll soon find there are a bajillion (that’s a real number) things to do besides work and now that you’ll have time for them it’ll be great!

For parents whose children have grown and left, now’s the chance to renew your focus and look at the world around you. Maybe you can volunteer your time to help other families? Maybe you can discover your creative side? There’s so much to do! It won’t be hard!

As for me… One day I’m going to wake up and say: I need to quit my hobbies, they’ve taken over my life.

Or not.

What is life if not the pursuit of those things we love?

Rejection – A Necessary Evil

There seem to be two kinds of writers out there… well, three actually.

1. The ones who are completely devastated by rejection.

2. The ones who see rejection as one more step on the path.

3. The ones who don’t care because they’re already published.

I guess none of these positions are bad but the first attitude can be extremely detrimental to your creativity.

Here’s the thing, you can’t be perfect. Sorry, it’s just not possible. And because you’re not perfect, you will face rejection. Most agents are going to say no, most publishers are going to say no, and some readers are going to hate your writing. The good news, however, is that it’s okay! Just keep working, keep writing, keep growing in your art and as time goes by less people will dislike it and more people will like it.

Or at least, that’s what I tell myself. Breaking news! I am NOT a published author. I’m just some girl who likes writing and who sends queries out now and then.

I’ve been completely torn apart by critique groups.

I’ve been insulted by people who HAVE published their work.

I’ve been rejected by agents and publishers.

And it’s okay! I see each rejection as an opportunity for growth. They said no? That’s okay, it just means I need to keep working.

Rejection isn’t easy, but don’t let it define who you are. You aren’t the reject, your work just isn’t ready yet.

Keep working!

Keep growing!

Don’t ever give up!

I’ll be over in the corner here not giving up with you!

Dear Indie Authors: You’re Ruining Indie Publishing

Dear Indie Authors of the world. No, not you. No, not you either. This is aimed at those of you who will do literally ANYTHING to pimp your product, even unethical things. You’re ruining it for the rest of us. Stop.

You know how grocery stores hand out free samples to people? You know why they sometimes have a limit of one per customer? It’s because you came along and took the entire plate. Because you were unethical, they were forced to make rules.

The same thing is happening now with Amazon.

Because you begged your friends to leave undeserved 5 star reviews to try and get your book noticed you’ve now pushed Amazon to come up with this new policy idea that could prevent Indie Authors from receiving reviews from friends.

If your book is as good as you think it is, you don’t need to be so freaking shady to get it noticed. Really. Just get on with your bad self and let people write HONEST and TRUE reviews. Stop trying to make yourself look good with false reviews.

Us readers aren’t stupid. We know those reviews were from friends, and/or people you bribed into writing them. We see that the person leaving the review only ever leaves good reviews and we know they were probably paid. Really, we’re not falling for it but because you did it you’ve made it 100X harder for the honest Indie Authors to get their business rolling.

You suck.

If your book needs that fake review to flourish, it’s not going to flourish.

Stop writing crap and maybe you’ll start to make headway.

In the meantime us ethical Indie Authors will pick ourselves up and figure out some way to work around this new obstacle put in our path because you’re a jerk.

Please stop making it more difficult than it needs to be.

Please.

Sincerely,

Indie Authors

PS: Please, for the love of all that is good, STOP releasing first draft crap. The market is ALREADY over saturated, we don’t need your unscrubbed piece of garbage added to the pile. Get a beta, get an editor, get a team of unbiased authors to read your work and LISTEN to what they say. Adding more sludge to the pile doesn’t help us, it only hinders us.

When you need to stop writing…

Starfieldplanet

As I’ve undergone this journey I’ve started to realize that sometimes the advice people give me is actually useful. Shock and amazement! I tend to be a pretty stubborn person. I’m self taught in almost everything so when people try to help me, or give me advice, my knee jerk reaction is to tell them to BACK OFF. Let me figure it out on my own!

Unfortunately my way is often the hard way.

But that’s okay too, it works for me.

Over the past two years people have given me a mountain of advice, most of which I completely dismissed.

1. You’re writing the wrong story. Put it aside and work on something else.

This was the most common piece of advice I was given. I rejected the concept and kept struggling away. Two years later I finally finished a draft I felt was ‘acceptable’, but by the end I wasn’t enjoying the story as much anymore. And because I wasn’t enjoying it as much writing really started to feel like a chore at the end there.

I still secretly think that draft isn’t everything it could or should be but I have no idea how to fix it.

But I’m finally at a point where I feel comfortable putting it aside. It’s close enough to finished that I can let it go.

Finally.

And letting it go was the single best thing I’ve done in two years. I wrote my second novel in just a couple of months and I enjoyed every single moment. I didn’t once stop in frustration, now that it’s done I don’t feel like throwing it out. I actually feel really confident in it, even though I KNOW it has some pretty glaring errors.

So, sometimes it is just time to let a project go and move on to the next thing.

Sometimes you’re just trying to force out the wrong story.

Part of growing is learning to recognize what stories need to be told and when.

2. Writing Groups are a distraction

Words can’t express how true this is. They’re fun! But they’re really just a gigantic time sucker. If you have the self control to step away, good for you! But I didn’t. Shutting them all down was the single best thing I did for my writing. The week I stopped visiting writing groups is the week I wrote 20K.

You don’t have to leave forever! But maybe you should leave long enough to finish your manuscript, at the very least.

3. Social media is powerful

Don’t ruin your reputation. Stop. Before speaking in anger, before flipping out on bad reviewers, before plastering your poorly written advert all over the internet, stop.

People online never forget, and once it’s out there, it’s out there. No take backsies.

As a writer your reputation is everything so use social media wisely.

This from the girl who has the worst temper in the world and who has probably made her fair share of enemies online. >.< Whoops.

4. Get an editor

I am must protect her!

Okay, never mind that. But seriously. No matter how good you think your English is, you are TOO close to your story to edit it properly. You absolutely NEED an outside set of eyes to go over it. Not only that, but you should probably get a beta too. A beta will help identify story logic errors that you can’t see because you have all the back story in your head.

Go get an editor.

Some of them will even be affordable.

5. This hobby should be fun

I used to get really upset with people who would chastise me because I didn’t seem to be having much fun. Fun! Whatever! This is SERIOUS BUSINESS. And to an extent I was right, not everything in life is fun. Was learning how to knit a sweater fun? Sometimes not so much, but sometimes very much so. Was learning how to ride a bike run? Nope. Not until I stopped falling…

but if you have completely lost sight of the joy of writing, you might need to take a break.

Taking a break isn’t bad! And besides, taking a break might help you to identify the problem I mentioned in 1. . Maybe you’re just trying to force the wrong story!

So take a deep breath, work on something else, and refind your joy.

In Conclusion

Writing can be just a thing you do for fun and never give much thought to. Writing can be a serious business. Or, if you’re like me, writing can be something in between.

The trick is figuring out what makes you happy.

The trick is not being afraid to know when to call it quits on a project that’s not working.

Goodbye Prelude. I’m so glad to be rid of you because now I’ve refound my joy and I’m back to loving every moment of writing!