Life choices, editing schedule and this blog

It’s Sunday and I’m trying to muster the initiative to get up and make some dinner. So far it’s not going particularly well, so I thought I’d procrastinate by writing a blog post instead. Because my head works so well when I’m hungry…

Life choices

Two days ago I finished my last translation gig on Fiverr. After doing far too much for far too long and ending up in a place where it’s not healthy to be, mentally, I paused my gig and decided that enough was enough. For one thing, it’s hard to be a writer without any time for writing. My life for the past 6 months have been the following: Get up. Get early to work. Translate a bit before work starts. Work. Go home, eat quick dinner (maaybe exercise first). Translate until brain stops working/you see double/you’re falling asleep at the keyboard. Fall asleep, repeat the next day.

I love languages, and I used to love translation, and it’s been a lifesaver, but when you sit down to work and feel physically ill just from opening the document… it’s not good. So now it’s DONE. I have time to write. I have time to do nothing without feeling bad about it. I can go to bed when I feel tired without pushing myself to just do another page first. I can go work out without feeling bad about the time I spend doing it. Do I need to go on? That first day, I rejected four jobs. Normally I’d feel bad after the first one, and do the remaining three. But now? Nope, I was polite but firm. Victoryyy!!! (aaaand that’s the cue for the song from Lord of the Dance to become stuck in my brain. Again.)

Editing schedule

It should not be a surprise to anyone that with a life like what I described above, I certainly did not make the editing deadline that Cicilie and I had set. By a long shot. Luckily (for me), she didn’t either, and so we postponed it. Again.

This time will be the last, however. I have made a plan over how much I need to write for the next month, and I am only a little bit behind. I have some days off now, so I’m actually confident that I’ll be able to catch up very soon. My ambitious goal is 15k today, which is doable for me, but I want at least 10k.

Our new deadline is October 1st. That’s the goal we are working towards, and which I’ve written in my new plan. We also have another deadline, October 16th, which is the absolute deadline. No matter what the draft is like and how much we have edited, it is to be handed over at that point, sort of like we did back in December. That will allow us some planning time before NaNoWriMo as well.

The actual schedule I’ve made for myself has me finishing the draft on September 24th, except if it turns out to be very much longer than anticipated. Then I will have one week, perhaps plus two more, to fix the new sections I’ve had to write. Time will tell if this is actually realistic this time.

This blog

…will not change all that much yet, though I’ve looked at new themes. However, I have a dancing/training blog that I hardly ever use, and I’ve also felt like three blogs is a bit much. I do write about dancing and health and exercise and whatever else is going on in my life here anyway, so it’s not like the change will be all that great. Any thoughts? Would you hate to see that kind of content here?

It should be said that if I do it, I’ll figure out a way to let you choose to see only blog posts from a certain category/topic. Besides, I feel like I cannot devote enough time and attention to maintain all my blogs properly, and perhaps it will be best to have one main blog in English where I do all my stuff. Seeing that it now has both writing and painting and drawing and language and photography (soon) and all that stuff anyway.

I really do wonder if I will ever be able to write more than one or two entries in a row without discussing something or other I want to change with one of my blogs…

What’s that? My plan? No idea what you’re talking about…

Well.

Apparently there was a plan. And a schedule. And a slightly overly optimistic writer who decided that YES, august would be the perfect time to finish the third draft of Rogue Sorcery. Nevermind that I have an insanely large translation job that I am already late with, plus two smaller ones. Or the fact that, after a long day at work and 4-5 hours (minimum) of non-stop translation, my brain is just a mushy ball of exhaustion. OK, sometimes I take the time to work out right after work, but without it, this kind of schedule just wouldn’t be possible. And did I mention that I’m beta reading not one, but two manuscripts?

Definitely not complaining about the last part, though. I like being able to help out, and both writers asked very nicely and had very interesting stories.

I had planned to use this weekend to (hopefully) catching up with where I’m supposed to be, word count-wise. It didn’t happen. In fact, I haven’t written a single word all weekend. Friday I had work and translations, so no dice there. Saturday… I woke up at 6 a.m., strangely awake, but being that my apartment was a disaster area, I tried my best to fix that instead. I don’t regret it, because now I can actually look up from the computer screen without hyperventilating. Let me just tell you right now that being a naturally messy person while becoming really stressed if everything isn’t tidy around you isn’t a good combination. I don’t even like spotless homes.

The rest of Saturday was spent organizing some photos (another project of mine in which I’m behind schedule), reading blogs and playing Internet games, and going to bed early. Today I did more of the same, and I went for a step class at my gym. Guess who forgot to eat before going? Yep, I did. And breakfast was three hours before I left home. The choreography wasn’t hard, and I’m usually good at choreo, but I just couldn’t follow it at all. It was far easier last week.

Aaaanyway.

Guess how far I’m behind? 28k. And that’s my small goal, if the story ends up at 100k, which it won’t. The optimistic goal of 120k is more likely, and in that case… 35k behind. Hooray. It also turns out that I’ll have no time to write next weekend, since I’m going away with my new job. I haven’t even started yet, but it will be very useful when I do start. I can get some writing done on the airport, though. Didn’t think of that…

Still, in order for this post not to become a total downer, I have vacation towards the end of the month, directly before starting my new job. I’ll try not to take on more translation work, so I can get a lot written then. I do think I’ll have to talk to my writer friend/beta reader about the draft though, because our plan to exchange manuscripts by the end of the month might be a bit optimistic. Just a tiny bit. I am able to write 100k in two weeks, but not while doing other stuff. I think. I did do 250k last November, with a work conference and stuff during the month, so maaaybe it’s still possible… At least she’ll need to get a draft where the end is actually written out instead of just being a summary (I ran out of time last time, too).

 

Somehow I feel I’m too disorganised and scatter-brained to ever have any hope of becoming a full-time writer. I certainly have some work to do in the “being organised” department…

 

The Grand Editing Adventure, Day 6

After my previous, rather jubilant update, this one is more… meh. In other words: I haven’t written a thing. And that means, people, that I need to write 10k today. I’ve been more optimistic in the past, and I’m not sure I’ll manage to catch up today.

On one hand, I do write very fast, and 10k days are usually no problem at all if I have the day off from work. Besides, I know (mostly) what I’m writing and some sections won’t need much of a rewrite this time around. On the other hand the list of reasons why it might not be possible to catch up today is a bit more extensive:

  1. I really need to clean my apartment today. It sounds like a bad excuse, but it’s gone past the scope of the word “hot mess” and moved into “catastrophic”. And when I’m already stressed out and exhausted, a messy apartment makes it ten times worse. Not a good thing.
  2. I’m a bit more than a week into my huge translation job and it’s taking a toll. Even if I try to take enough breaks, that many hours of the same type of content is very, very exhausting. I’m not actually sure my brain will cooperate today.
  3. My poor wrists. I’ve had several large translations in a row without breaks in between, and that many words for that many hours for that many days… hurt. They feel better today than yesterday, but if they start acting up I might have to stop, just in case.
  4. My neck. My posture is abysmal when I’m in front of a computer, and since I’m in front of a computer most of the day, and the bad habits have started to carry over into other situations, my neck has begun to act up too. Besides, I tense up when I’m stressed, so the muscles are really stiff. I’m working on it, but I will have to take more breaks than I usually would.
  5. “No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished” (book 3 in the Heartstriker series) by Rachel Aaron came out yesterday, and is already in my Kindle app. I’m not even sure I’ll feel bad about reading it instead of writing. Well, OK, maybe a little.

Today’s original quota was 5k. I will definitely have to write that today, and if I can’t catch up today I’ll have to do it tomorrow. If I start next week by being behind, I’ll definitely not be optimistic.

Still, to be fair, I haven’t reached the “I hate my story” point yet, so that’s good.

Writing progress! Woohoo!

Well! It’s finally under way! As you may remember, the editing/third draft for Rogue Sorcery kept being postponed, but finally. It’s being written.

I decided to take the NaNoWriMo approach to it, since Cicilie will have to get the entire draft at the end of August anyway and that’s less than a month away. So I found my trusty statistics spreadsheets again, and customised the different goals (you can have several different goals, and you can also adjust them so that you have a small daily quota on very hectic days, but a far larger one on days when you’re not working, for example)

Technically I’m a bit behind schedule. BUT: That’s because I didn’t technically finish the plan before day 2, and day 1’s quote was written the day before. But the stats don’t capture that, unfortunately, and I can’t be bothered to change the spreadsheet. It’s not nearly important enough, and I’ll catch up soon anyway.

So far the entire story is 12k, approximately, (2k written yesterday) and I expect it will be around 100-120k. I also have a feeling I will be wrong, in which case I will be lucky if I can give Cicilie a finished draft. Even if I have changed (but not actually written) the ending since she read it last.

On the other hand, it is a third draft. There will be sections where I don’t have to rewrite very much. I always write better when things get a bit more tense. The beginning takes time, mostly because there’s a lot of things I have to add as it was a bit too rushed and choppy.

Anyway. I hope I can report being back on track very soon 🙂

Wherein plans are changed

Cicilie and I have been reasonable for once – more incredible for me than for her, frankly – and adjusted the original deadlines for our spring projects. Not only does it allow us to have a finished story to post on Wattpad sooner, but it will give us more time to edit our novels (RS in my case) before exchanging manuscripts again. That last point is particularly important since I am a part-time student now, and have to study for exams in the first half of May. I can’t use my regular strategy of bullshitting my way through it either, since it’s business finance and I have to know stuff. Anyway, the new and updated plan (let’s all just pretend that I don’t actually love revising plans just as much as I love making them, which is a lot) is below:

April

  • Write the short Wattpad story, somewhere around 5k. (It’s fully plotted though! Yay!)
  • Edit the short Wattpad story, and actually post it (deadline 30th of April)
  • Enter the new ending for RS into the timeline in Aeon
  • Edit at least 10 chapters of RS

May

  • Edit the rest of RS (deadline 29th of May)
  • Re-read again
  • Finish the plot of the Wattpad novel

June

  • Write the Wattpad novel
  • Revise/edit the Wattpad novel (deadline 30th of June)

In the original plan I had some painting goals as well – they remain the same, so I won’t repeat them here. Except with the caveat that I’m not allowed to, you know, overwork myself, so I’m only going to do two of the six goals. One of them must be the goal of making a map of Wirun, since I need that for RS, but apart from that, as long as I finish one other painting goal, I’m happy.

So there it is!

Revised editing plan

Apparently I am more fond of making plans than I am of following them. On the other hand, planning can be done everywhere, and writing… cannot. Plus I haven’t had the necessary brain power, energy, focus or anything, really, to write for the past few weeks. Busy doesn’t even cover it. (Somehow we started talking about the number of jobs that I have, followed by a discussion of whether homework is good or bad, in my German class today, which led to this gem from one of my students: “If Catrine can survive everything, we can handle a bit of homework.” It was amusing.)

Aaaanyway. It’s clearly not just that class that was filled with digressions today…

I have made a new editing plan! This time I have even done some research! (Wow.) Also, I have edited. A little bit. Most of my research comes from the eminent blog of Rachel Aaron/Bach at Pretentious Title, who both writes books that I love, AND has perhaps the most useful writing blog I have ever encountered. There is something to be said about taking advice from people who write the kind of books you like to read, I think… Also I got some advice from Holly Lisle, whose advice I have read for years now and who has a blog post about one-pass editing. Perhaps the most useful advice from these two was that there is no editing process that works for everyone, and because of that, I have picked a little bit from both.

The magnificent plan, v. 4 (or something)

  1. Take the timeline and write down all the new stuff (that you know of), both big and small. DONE
  2. Find the old scene overview. DONE.
  3. Make a new scene map over the current story after the changes. DONE.
  4. Note down theme and a short summary of the story. DONE… sort of. Will probably have to do again.
  5. Write down everything you can think of that you need to fix, round 1. DONE. (But will need to be updated as I think of more things)
  6. Split up the Scrivener file by scene (currently the entire chapters are together) in chapter folders, to make it easier to move scenes around.
  7. Write the new scenes that are missing from the current draft. I have actually written one of these!
  8. Triple check that the ending works – something bugs me about it.
  9. Go through what the generals are doing this whole time, when they’re not shown in the story. Make sure they seem like they normally know what they’re doing…
  10. Write down the questions that need answering, and answer them. Does everything make sense?
  11. Plot routes and cities on map to check that they’re not using two days to a place to which it takes two weeks or months to travel to, or vice versa.
  12. Write the next draft.
  13. Read through and write down everything you see that needs to be fixed.
  14. Rewrite again
  15. Repeat the last two as needed.

As usual the “just a few” steps turned into quite a few, but I am more optimistic about this plan than the previous ones. It took me a few rounds to find something I think will work and which fits the way I work (without necessarily doing everything chronologically).

We will see! Considering I have already done a few steps on it, I think it is promising.

Why is editing so hard?

As I’ve mentioned before, February is my big Editing Month. I’m not overly familiar with editing – I have a rather limited attention span, and once I finish the first draft of any story, my mind is already on my next project. Resisting temptation is not my forte, to put it mildly. Now that I’ve done NaNoWriMo for so many years, the tendency is even stronger. Because of that, I misjudged completely just how much time I really need. I doubled the time I would estimate for a first draft, and should be at chapter ten or eleven by now. I’m at chapter four.

Editing is much harder than I thought it would be. In comparison first drafts are easy. You’re just getting it written and don’t need to worry about mistakes, if you manage not to get overly self-critical. Revising the plot (finding and filling plot holes, mostly, and fixing the “oops, I changed my mind” parts of the story) is harder. But the second draft is hard. How do I write that long period of time in which nothing exciting really happens, but which is important, without infodumping or leaving out crucial parts? How much do you show, and how much can you tell? My biggest challenge is that I easily visualize settings and scenes, but I find it hard to “see” how characters behave when it comes to those little things.

My favourite out of all my writing flaws is the glances. My characters always exchange glances and send very significant looks towards someone, or their eyes are <insert adjective here>. The looks are long, meaningful, quick, blank, confused, threatening and a whole heap of other things, but I doubt you could ever distinguish all that in real life, particularly if you don’t know the person. I can tell when my friends think I’m stupid or unreasonable (it’s not a very subtle look), or when someone is surprised, very happy, sad or angry, but that’s about it. And even then, eyes never act on their own. I’m not particularly good at reading people, especially those little things that people do (except if they are annoying things), so perhaps it makes sense that I struggle with writing people. (You should really think that a person who draws people so often would find those things easy, but alas)

Another problem area of mine is transitioning from one scene to another, particularly when they sort of belong together. I also struggle with not overexplaining things, or not repeating myself too much. I try to vary, both in sentence structure and dialogue and descriptions, but so far it doesn’t go too well. I struggle with making my character sound distinct from each other too.

At this point it’s probably smart to remind myself that it IS only a second draft, the first second draft I’ve written in nearly ten years. Of course it’s going to be hard. But it’ll be all the more satisfying afterwards. I hope.