Lowering the Scalpel

The past number of weeks I’ve been busy with revisions to a novel manuscript. A publisher requested them, and I have a deadline, and it’s been an interesting and challenging task. My first thought when I got the email requesting them, of course, was, I don’t know how to do this!

But I soon found out that, also of course, I did. It turned out to be a pretty logical process, once I took a few minutes to think about it. Re-read the manuscript, because it had been some time since I’d actually looked at it. Make copious notes about what to change and how to change it and how best to address the concerns. And then—do it.

The reading and note-making took the bulk of the time, because I wanted to be thorough. It’s also sometimes a precarious undertaking, to start tinkering with the innards of a novel manuscript, because if you’ve done it right, it all stands up, nicely stacked and interdependent like a house of cards. Switching out and adding in new cards after the fact can cause the entire thing to come tumbling down, so it takes a lot of care and a steady hand.

I got to a point eventually, though, where I knew it was time to turn on the change-tracking feature and start making those changes. Beginning that part of the process was something I had to push myself into a bit. To switch analogies from cards to medicine, starting to mark up the manuscript felt like the start of a surgical procedure. The scalpel is in hand, you know it’s time, but you haven’t cut into the skin yet, and there’s a moment of hesitation. You have a plan, but you don’t really know how much blood there’s going to be once you start to cut. Any number of things could go wrong. Once you make that initial incision, there’s no going back—you’re committed to seeing the whole thing through to the end.

However, the surgery is the only treatment option, and you know it. And I knew it. So I pushed past that moment of hesitation, and so far the surgery is going well. It has a ways to go yet, but I think the patient is going to survive, and emerge stronger than ever. I’ll report on the prognosis as it becomes available.

Photo credit: chrisgan


I’m putting this lucky ladybug I drew as my illustration for this post, because I am feeling very fortunate right now. A number of good things have happened lately, not all of which I can talk about in detail, but I can throw out some hints. :)

Well, as to the first one, I can talk about it freely–I have a short story collection scheduled to come out later this year. It will consist of many of my previously-published short stories and probably one new one. My editors and I are working on the TOC now, and cover art is pretty much done. It’s exciting! It’ll be available in print and ebook formats.

I also have a publisher interested in one of my novels–provided I can make satisfactory revisions. That’s a somewhat nerve-wracking proposition, but I do have some ideas and will be diving into the project in the next day or so, once I clear a few more items off my list. I have a couple of months to make the changes, which should be do-able. We have a vacation in there but I’ll work around it. This is also, of course, hugely exciting, but I am trying not to get too worked up over it since nothing’s certain until those revisions are done and meet with approval. Of course I can let myself enjoy the fact that they liked the story enough to ask for revisions. :)

The third item was an invitation that I should really keep quiet about for now. But it’s very nice.

Will share more details on all of this as I can. For now–feeling lucky indeed!

Secret Project

So, I’ve added a new secret project to the long list of things I’m working on. It’s one of those things that you think you’re just going to work on in tiny bits, and then you look up and realize you’ve put the last five hours on it without noticing.

You’re wondering what it is, I know. Well, I can’t tell just now because, you know…it’s a secret. It’s still in the initial stages, so I don’t want to jinx it by saying too much. But so far, it’s going well.

I promise, when I have more to tell, you’ll be the first to know.

The Writing Room

Yesterday I happened upon this video, wherein writer Laurie Halse Anderson chronicles the building of her writing cottage. Wow, it’s beautiful. And she quotes Viriginia Woolf, who said:

“…a woman must have…a room of her own to write fiction.”

Note that I don’t think it’s only women who need a dedicated writing space. I think all writers deserve that spot where they can go and feel that they are in “writing mode”. It needn’t be a room, if space constraints don’t allow it–but it should be a place where you can get away from distractions and know that it’s time to write. (If you Google “writing room” and choose images you’ll find some lovely inspirational rooms to look at.)

I’m lucky enough to have had a “writing room” since we moved into our house fifteen years ago…it was a different room at first than it is now, but I’ve always had the space. I’m grateful for that.

But as I look around it now, I’m not sure that I’m being the best caretaker of that space. It’s pretty cluttered and messy and probably dirtier in the nooks and crannies than I would like to think about. So I’ve decided to overhaul it, clean it up and make some changes that I’ve wanted to make for a while.

Now, this decision makes me nervous, because I know my brain. I have a lot of writing and writing-related projects on the go, and my brain often chooses these times to cunningly push me into some big project that isn’t writing, because it doesn’t want to work that hard. So rest assured, I am not going to drop everything and start my office overhaul. I’m going to use it as a reward motivator instead. For every hour spent on writing, I will spend half an hour on the office. It will take longer to get it done, but I think it’s the only smart way to do it.

So now I’m going to go and take some pictures of it in its current pathetic state. These “before” pictures will not be revealed until I have the “after” pictures to go with them. By that time, you’ll all have forgotten about this project, I’m sure. But don’t worry, I’ll remind you.

Juggling Projects

Sometimes I have so many writing projects on the go that it’s hard to decide what to work on or settle in to one thing. I’m a good multi-tasker, but that only goes so far.

So sometimes it’s easier to just put it all aside and write a blog post. :)

Lately I’m working back and forth between Third Person Press‘s Airborne anthology, and doing type-ins for my scifi/fantasy/mystery/romance novel The Murder Prophet. Both projects are on deadlines (albeit to some extent self-imposed ones). Both are also coming along really well. I wonder if that makes it more difficult to choose between them? I expect if one were a horrible slog and the other was flowing merrily, I’d be much more inclined to work on the latter and let the former wallow in its own misery.

I’m very fond of The Murder Prophet. No one else, not even my trusted first readers, has seen it yet, so that feeling could change in the next few months. I hope not. It was tons of fun to write, I love the protagonist, and I’m adding a slick little subplot now at the eleventh hour that is making me smile. Its mixed-genre lineage might make it difficult to place, but that might also work in its favor for niche or quirky publishers. However, that’s a worry for another day; right now I just want to get it to a point I can call ‘finished’ so some folks can read it.

Work on Airborne is also progressing nicely. We’re finishing up line edits on the last few stories now, so that they can go out for author approval, and I’ve started typesetting those that are already done and approved. The typesetting this time around has been a breeze; after figuring out all the hard stuff while working on Undercurrents, it’s a much faster process now. Not that I don’t run into any problems at all, but I have a better idea how to solve them, at least. Also, we have an almost-finalized front and back cover, an ISBN and barcode, and someone very cool lined up to write an introduction, so we’re pretty pleased.

I guess that’s enough procrastinating for now; I’ve sent out one story for author approval so far this morning, so maybe I’ll do type-ins for a while and see how I feel after that. Juggle, juggle. Sometimes the writing life is all about keeping the balls in the air.

*Photo by abeall. And my to-do list is never blank like that. :)