status check


If it’s important…

Let’s just say that this year has been epic, stressful, and full of ridiculous, massive changes in both my personal and professional life. If you had told me in January any of the stuff in my life right now would have come to pass, I might have laughed at you in disbelief.

So. Wow.

I apologize for being a bit vague. When I decided I wanted to a recap, I sort of forgot that I am shy and also private. Still, I can tell you about all the good stuff, like being a part of Pandamoon Publishing as their editorial coordinator, a shift which took me by surprise (to say the least). I also have more energy than I did at this time last year, thanks to more judicious managing of my mental weather, and even though I’m swamped with All The Things I Want To Do, that’s… really not a bad thing. Inspiration has snuck its way back into my life, too, and I’m working on projects that I’d either set aside or was allowing to percolate, and I am forging better relationships with my family and taking more action to accomplish my goals.

The frustrating and stressful stuff I want to leave behind with 2015, and even if they follow me, they’ll — of a necessity — be different than they were and hopefully more conquerable.

Part of why I think I’m had a pretty danged good year comes down to a single moment and, like all truly life-changing moments, it was brought about by a cat.

Over Thanksgiving in 2014, I brought home a cat from Colorado. Her name is Pica, and she’s probably the cutest cat on the planet. (Not that I’m biased.) I bring her up now because when I was trying to sort out the logistics to bring her back with me, my friend told me something that sort of settled in my bones. I was upset that he’d have to go to great lengths to get her her shots on short notice, and that it would be inconvenience and effort on his part because of something I’d done that could have been avoided if I’d gotten my act together earlier.

He said: If it’s important, it’s worth the inconvenience.

I’m probably paraphrasing a little, because time and turning it over and over in my head has polished it down. Those words — if it’s important… — stuck in my brain. If it’s important, it’s worth the obstacles. If it’s important, it’s worth the pain and inconvenience and dealing with your own failures. If it’s important, it’s worth making it work despite the hard stuff. Packed into ‘if it’s important’ is a wealth of meaning, about throwing yourself forward and picking yourself back up and taking action after action after action.

If it’s important, it’s worth the inconvenience.

There’s an underlying message of compassion in that, when said from one person to another, but I think I was struck most by the acknowledgement that important things are hard and sometimes those hard things are larger than just me. And, sometimes, in being larger than just me, they will leak out onto others, but that doesn’t make them any less important. Or any less worth it. Or my friends any less willing to help me make things happen.

What really gets me is that ‘inconvenience’ is never a factor for me when I try and help others, so I have no idea why the rules were different for me. Now that I know that they were, however, I’ve been working this past year on internalizing this idea of ‘if it’s important…’

I credit this handful of words with a lot of my drive in 2015. In evaluating what I found important, it made me make changes in my life that gave priority to the stuff I wanted to focus on, and helped me decide to live a little bit more outside of my head and in the real world where I can actually make a difference.

So here I sit, at the end of 2015, doing what I love, in a place I’ve made my home, with friends I held onto despite the distance, at the end of my first full year with the most adorable cat in the entire world.

And, friends, I believe that’s important.

Pica in a Box

So very important.


Note to Self: Take Better Notes 1

Today, I’m pissed off at myself.

Not for anything dire, luckily, but I’m still mad enough that I think I can get a blog post out of it. *grins*

I’ve been participating in #1LineWednesday on Twitter. It’s… run? Prompted? Encouraged? By RWA’s Kiss of Death twitter (@RWAKissOfDeath), and it’s a lot of fun. I’ve found more awesome people to follow through #1LineWednesday than I have doing anything else on twitter.

Yesterday’s theme (for the 21st) was ‘Last Lines of Chapters’, which – okay fair enough. The only problem is that recently I’ve been writing short stories, so I didn’t have a lot of ‘last lines’ to choose from. So I went spelunking into my dropbox where I keep my projects and skimmed through a few of my oldest novels. Good news: some of them aren’t awful and could probably stand to be reworked and finished! Bad news: none of them are finished, and some of them need a great deal of work.

Of particular note is that I found one of my old NaNoWriMo novels and started to skim it to find chapter ending lines. Cue me being a little floored, but it’s actually good? About halfway through skimming, I just straight-up started reading (and editing in my head, but mostly reading). I mean, there are some parts that straight-up suck, especially because I had no idea how to manipulate the tension I was building, and the prose is way too dense and heavily overwritten, and I’ve improved by leaps and bounds since I wrote it, but – ??? ??? ???

The reason I never finished it is because I’m more of a slow-and-steady writer, so that NaNoWriMo’s mad scramble for for 50k-in-a-month is just a little on the ’causes intense project burnout’ side of things. Also, I think I was mid-other-project and doing nano that year to figure out if I could write villains that didn’t suck so ‘finished project’ was a priority. But! For whatever reason, I tidied up my 50k, dropped the project in a metaphorical drawer, and never looked back.

The thing really cheeses me is that I stopped at the end of the ‘second act’ and wrote a paragraphless wall of words to explain the ending. It’s one page long, uses some sort of shorthand that I don’t provide the key for, and that’s it.

What was I thinking?!

How on earth did past me expect future me to sort out this block of unmitigated nonsense?!

I went to bed angry last night because why, why did I do this to myself. I knew for a fact that it was the most ‘solid’ book I’d written up to that point. Why. Whyyyyy.

It’s worse than just ‘I don’t know how to finish my book’, though.

Friends.

Friends.

This is a Time Travelling Serial Killer novel. A woman tries to rescue her brother from the killer’s clutches while time deteriorates and the past and future become unstable. There are at least four timelines and because of the ‘type’ of time travel I picked, my MC experiences linear personal time while the alternative timelines are created and destroyed around her. It’s very important for me to know what happens, when, on which day, in which timeline, and how the main character (who is also travelling in time, because, you know, why make it easy) experiences each event and in what order.

I need like 10x more notes than I have. What the heck am I supposed to do with lines like, ‘Dragons don’t have pockets!’ and ‘Remove the shark-jumping bits!’?

I’m so mad.

Friends. Take better notes than I do.

Especially when you’re writing about time travelling serial killers and stop (whyyyyyyyyy) just before you get to the good part.


Dancing in September

The reasons for my radio silence the past month-and-some-change have been myriad and of varying levels of ‘excuse’. August, however, was slam-chocked full of travel. First weekend was a wedding in which I was maid of honor (Hi, Kimi! Congrats! I hope wedded bliss is treating you well!), the next weekend was a funeral for the boyfriend’s grandfather (15 hour round trip in the car), and then a week and a half ago I spent the week with my grandma after a thankfully brief medical scare (she’s fine, whew). I haven’t been home a lot, and when I have, I’ve been working on a novel edit. There will be announcements at some point. Eventually.

Suffice it to say that I have been obscenely busy, and when I edit I slip into tunnel-vision-mode and drop off the face of the planet. Here I am crawling back on-planet and maybe dancing a little because my month of Going Everywhere and Doing Everything is over.

Your regularly unscheduled writing-related posts will (hopefully) recommence sometime this week.


Philosophy of Editing

This particular post has a twofold purpose. First, to let you know where I am with my projects (!) and the second to sort of explain what sort of editor I am when I’m editing someone else’s work. Hopefully, the reason they’re mushed together in the same post will become evident rather quickly. ๐Ÿ™‚

My ongoing writing projects have only been lightly touched this past week, so they’re in a bit of a stasis. Still trying to fix the danged ending of Station (it’s just about giving me fits), and I’m working up an old short story to my current skill level. However, I haven’t had a lot of time to work on them because I had a freelance editing job to accomplish and I still haven’t quite figured out how to balance personal writing with professional editing. The edit went rather well and I have a couple of other opportunities to chase because of it, so hopefully I’ll figure out balance here rather quickly.

I’m also trying to figure out how to explain the type of editing I do so I can put it up here on my website under its own heading. Yanno. Just in case.

And with that segue, here’s my attempt:

I like to call myself a developmental editor. There are several different kinds of editing, and sometimes the definitions thereof are a little ambiguous and somewhat overlapping. See three different sources: Here, here, and here, for case in point. So, as in any chat about editing, I should probably clarify my terms before we get too much further.

I usually classify them into three major categories. Copyediting, line editing, and developmental editing.

Copyediting (and/or Proofreading, because some people make a distinction between the two) is about getting down the very last stage of polishing and is primarily concerned with the what of what is actually set down on the page. It’s the grammar. The syntax. It’s making sure everything is spelled correctly and hyphenated correctly and that you’re using the correct slang. It’s citing your sources (in nonfiction) and making sure that you’re consistent in your capitalization and you’ve eliminated as many typos as possible. This is the very last stage before your piece of work goes live. This is the type of edit that I always seek out before I send anything off for real because even at my most accurate, I start seeing what I meant to type and not what’s actually there.

Line editing is a bit looser and more concerned with the how of how something is written. This is going through your story line by line, paragraph by paragraph and looking for both logical consistency and flow. This is the place where word choices are first challenged, and all of those sentences with jarring parallel construction are pointed out. This is where I nudge people toward a consistent style, and try and suggest ways to develop atmosphere and tension within a scene and what they’re accomplishing with the words laid down as-is.

Developmental (or Substantial/Structural) editing is the most abstract of the categories, and it’s primarily concerned with the why of the piece. Why is this scene here? Why are you developing this theme? It addresses concerns such as building tension and releasing it early, or overwriting scenes that don’t need emphasis. Being a developmental editor is like being a rollercoaster designer; it’s all about making sure the story will guides the reader from the beginning to the end on a smooth path and contains only the terror and thrills you mean it to.

Classifications defined, I must say that developmental editing is what I enjoy the most, mostly because I get to I wade into the story, knee-deep, and sort of muck about. Some of my most favorite discussions with people have been wrangling about the construction of novels and movies, and over the past couple of years I’ve transitioned that love of discovering why I enjoy a thing into something useful by practicing on my writer-friends.

My philosophy of editing is very much about figuring out what story the writer wants to tell. I’m not sure how other editors approach manuscripts, but I’m of the opinion that the only way something can be ‘wrong’ when writing a book is if the author does not convey what they were trying to get across. I also firmly believe that a necessary part of editing a book is knowing why something isn’t working.

Partially, my desire to make sure my writers know what’s going is because I’m constitutionally incapable of accepting a ‘correction’ if I don’t know the reasoning behind it. I have editors I trust to know what’s up, but my process requires knowledge of all of the ‘whys’ and mechanical underpinnings of what my words are doing. Sometimes an editor can suggest something quite good and it just won’t fit with what I was trying to accomplish; if I modified my piece, then my goal would be that much further away. Not only that, but I don’t learn and grow as a writer unless I know why I’ve missed my mark so I can hit it first try next time around.

I assume that other writers have a similar growth process and a similar attitude towardย  grappling with the underpinnings of whatever piece they’re writing. Granted, sometimes that’s not true, but I default to explaining everything and modify based on author preference.

I need to wrap this up because I’ve spun off two other blogposts via digressions (not included) already, so I think my general conclusion is that, when I edit, I approach it with an attitude of figuring out what the writer’s goal was, and then helping them discover how they can accomplish that goal. I disagree with the idea that there should be some sort of conformance to a mold, even in genre writing, though I do think that there is power in using established conventions to convey meaning.

Developmental editing, for me, is all about finding patterns and making connections. Plus, feeling around inside the mechanical guts of a piece of writing has the fun and interesting side effect that sometimes I end up explaining to my authors what they were trying to accomplish by instinct in the first place.

Though I admit my investigations have been limited, I’ve not found a lot of information on how other editors (especially developmental editors) go about editing philosophically, so if anyone reading has any thoughts or resources, I’d love to compare notes. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 


Happy 2014! 3

Ah, how things change. Seeing as how I posted last in September of a whole other year, I suppose it’s time for an update.

Currently working on a novel with the working title of ‘Station’. It is – and this is, for all intents, my elevator pitch – a story along the vein of the old west gunslinger novels, where our lone hero rolls into town and challenges the status quo. Except in space. My heroine is a cyborg left to stand sentinel over the time stream, and she visits times and places where something (or, more accurately) someone is changing the future. As per her programming, she is supposed to be the agent of fate, to stop whatever sea change that will take the future in a radically different direction. However, she is always left with choice, and sometimes she chooses to stand by – or even help, those she was sent to nullify.

So that’s the story, more or less. I would feel regret about dumping my vampire romance, but I have been beating my head against it for the last year and it was time to let the darned thing go. I’m optimistic, however, because I love adventure scifi to the tips of my toes, which is exactly what this new story is designed to be. It’s more in my wheelhouse, and to be honest, I think that was a big issue with Broken Bond; vampire romances aren’t really my thing and I was flailing a little in the dark with it. I might come back to it eventually (especially since my writer’s group and anyone who I’ve showed a sample chapter to loves my male lead), but for now, it’s best I let it lie.

Anyhow, in other news, I have a novella that I am in rewrites for (the ending needs a bit of a tweak), and several short stories that I need to get off my duff in post to Amazon. It was a surprisingly good year despite moving across country (oh, I’m in LA now as of March!) and sort of struggling through my New City Blues. My writing has picked back up thanks to the all-or-nothing ridiculousness of Nanowrimo, and I’ve got my roadmap for 2014 all sorted out.

Hilariously, and as sort of a footnote, I’m considering adding my skills as a developmental editor to my website. When I couldn’t write this year, I honed my editing skills, and have gotten good feedback on my developmental and structural editing. Namely, Genevieve (whose link I have plastered into my sidebar over there), has been trying to convince me to hang out my shingle in a more official sense. So, perhaps I shall share the love and open up my inbox to taking on a few more projects.

We shall see.

2014 is dead, long live 2015! ๐Ÿ™‚

 


So far so… well, I’ve been really busy!

Interesting fact: When you no longer have a 9-5 job, your days become really full of all the stuff you used your 9-5 job to avoid. Like… dishes. And grocery shopping. And helping people move. And going to conventions. And editing. And spending time with people

Actually, I’ve started back in on my vampire romance novel that I began last November for Nanowrimo. Despite having it’s roots in a ‘write all the words’ sort of challenge, I’m pleasantly surprised at how coherent it has been during my edits. I’ve improved since I started it (oh my god, have I improved), but there are moments that I’m actually really proud of. It’s the piece that has my clearest authorial voice thus far, mostly because it’s both set in a contemporary Denver and I’m not worrying a lot about building some ridiculous world or conforming to a particular era.

I’m also damn pleased that it’s a vampire romance novel. The genre is one that I think needs having a few tropes turned on their heads. I am… apparently not terrible at doing that, according to my very kind writing cheerleaders.ย  Granted, that’s like saying your mum likes your fingerpaintings, but whether I’m fingerpainting or fiddling with tropes, I have a great deal of fun. That’s all that counts right? Right? I mean, if I’m having fun, hopefully my readers will be too. That’s the idea, at least.


First day of the rest of my life

So.

Friends.

I quit my 9-5 job to have more time to write. Currently, that means I’m having my first Monday without a desk job since I convinced someone to hire my inexperienced self right out of college. It feels like it shouldn’t have been as easy as it was to quit, to be honest. I feel like it was almost too easy and that I should be looking for the catch that will pounce me anyyyy moment now.

It’s odd. I’m kind of deviating from ‘the script’ by my own recognizance, and I am pleased and satisfied with that, but I am also absolutely fucking terrified that I’ve made the worst mistake ever. We’ll have to see, I suppose.

I figure I’ll get back into the habit of blogging. I used to do it pretty regularly when I was in school, for whatever reason, so I might as well return to the practice. I think it’ll also help me keep a bit on track with this whole writing thing.

Not a lot of writing planned today, unfortunately, because I’m in the throes of edits for a community gift project. Once that’s complete, however, I’ll be diving in to… something. Not sure what. Too many ideas, not enough focus, and it’s far enough out that I’d rather just concentrate on edits before I galumph off and leave the project hanging.

Actual plans for today: existential angst and website design.

I haven’t done website design since I made a really shoddy website for my aunt and her business. I wonder what happened to that one. Hrm. Either way, I am going the WordPress route this time because my website skills are at least half a decade out of date. Doesn’t mean I can’t at least try to make this thing look pretty.