Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I Need to Learn to Multitask

As I stated in my last entry, my editor (That sounds self-important, doesn't it?  I mean the editor with whom I am working.) sent me her edits.  I should be working through them, but I just can't seem to bring myself to do it.  This is partly because I am afraid to dig in and make the hard changes.  But it's more about another weakness of mine, one that people wouldn't expect from a teacher.  I am just not good at multitasking.

I have until May 30 to get my National Board Certification renewal work completed.  It involves video recording, gathering artifacts, and doing 28 pages of reflective writing.  I've been working on it in earnest since January and am one entry short of being completely finished.  I don't work on it every single day, but, and maybe this is just me making up excuses for being lazy, I really struggle with the idea of shifting gears between this work and editing my book.  While I'm still not finished with my NBCT stuff, I have no interest in any other work.  There's this voice in my head saying that if I'm going to do any writing, it needs to be on the renewal or nothing.

It might also have to do with the fact that we're nearing the end of another school year, meaning I'm nearing the time I have to say goodbye to another bunch of senior with whom I've fallen in love despite my best efforts not to.  I start getting depressed about this time every year and don't cheer up until summer school starts.  This saps another modicum of motivation from me.

I guess I need to learn to do with my writing what I've already learned with exercise.  It's just something I do, like eating, sleeping, showering, and brushing my teeth.  I don't even think anymore about whether I feel like it (unless I'm sick or hurt).  So how do I get writing to be part of that list?  Suggestions?  Anyone?  Anyone at all?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

When Editing Gets Scary

I am both ecstatic and petrified that my editor has sent back her work on my first manuscript.  I'm ecstatic because I'm one step closer to being published.  But I'm petrified because I fear the idea of  taking a scalpel to my baby.

In the most recent edition of Writer's Digest, I read about the dangers of self-editing.  I am (at least in part) avoiding that by listening to the advice of a professional editor, but, simply put, I couldn't afford to pay her to do a full edit on the whole book, so, with her help, I'm editing a large portion of the book myself.  I fear I won't be as ruthless (in a good way) with my words as she was willing to be because I'm too attached to them. I'm already struggling with accepting the suggestions she has made in the section she did edit.  Her main objective, at the suggestion of an agent, was to work on pacing, so she showed me places where the narrative dragged.  The book is, in large part, action driven, so she showed me where the narrative stood still.  I understand her thinking.  On an intellectual level I can even accept her thinking.  She's the pro.  She knows the difference between a book that's publishable and one that isn't.

But this is MY book.  It's different.  Those dead spots that don't move the action along are essential to giving a nuanced, full picture of my main characters.  She just doesn't understand.  I have to spend three pages on breakfast.  Harry's a foodie.  It takes three pages to portray that, despite the fact that the following action scene is not even two.  I know what's best for my book, right?

Nope.  I bet you saw that coming.  Maybe I need to work on my plot twists a bit more.  If I'm going to write for publication and not just my personal satisfaction, I have to come to grips with the fact that there are certain indulgences I simply can't take.  Readers of my genre want action.  Yes, good characters are important, and good dialogue is of the essence, but nobody paid good money to get into a Sylvester Stallone movie in the hopes of watching Sly wax poetic for an hour and a half.  No, they want someone they can quickly identify with and understand on some level, but mostly they want bombs, guns, and the bad guy gets in the end.

And besides, if I'm going to succeed in building a series around these characters, I can't give the audience everything in the first book.  I need to keep some secrets and let the audience come to know and love Harry and Dee Shalan the way I have come to over the years.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

When Words Fail Us

As a writer, my stock in trade is words.  Like a carpenter uses a hammer, drill, tape measure, and screw drivers, my tools are words.  But times like this are when I find that words are just not sufficient sometimes.  As I watched the aftermath of the bombings at the Boston Marathon, I was texting with a good friend who once lived in Boston and is a fellow runner.  We shared those extra connections to the event.  We both tried to express just how stunned and horrified we were by what was unfolding before our eyes, but there simply weren't words to fully describe the boiling cauldron of emotions we felt.

The one thing that could have been sufficient was simply impossible.  All I could think of was how badly I wished we were in the same room experiencing this because I longed to have that physical connection.  I just really needed to hug her.

And I have also found that, though this is probably a cliche, I really need to express to the people I love just how much they mean to me.  I don't want to feel like there is something I want to say to someone that I have waited too long to say.  It feels more true than it has ever been in my lifetime that we literally have no idea when our last moment is coming, or when the last time we saw a loved one will actually be the last time.

So if you are reading this and are a loved one, please know that I love you and you should expect to hear that and be hugged as soon as I can arrange it.