Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I Miss the Mad Hatter

In my last revision I had worked hard on devleoping a complex character - the Mad Hatter. In the new revision he is not seen until Chapter 20, and then it's not even from his POV. It's so hard to develop a character from the opposite POV. How can I let the reader into his head, provide the reader with his motivation, how do I explain that some of his outbursts are caused by the little imp? As I lay in bed last night trying to get to sleep my mind drifted over my conundrum. Combined with the emotional bog I was in I thought of the possibility of creating a parallel story taken entirely from the Hatter's perspective.

It could be done. In fact I still have all the chapters that I cut from this draft. The idea is intriguing and I want to jump on the story. Just another of the multitude that have been flying through my head. Not wanting to forget any of my ideas, I open up new files and jot down the basic ideas. As new ideas for the story come to mind I jot them down in the file. But I have been trying to stay focused on polishing RABBIT SLAYER. My hopes is that once I get a fairly decent novel finished I won't be spending nearly as much time with the other books.

But editing and writing are two entirely different mindsets. The more I edit the more I understand this. Writing this blog has helped curb my desire to be creative. However, if I don't get this finished soon I think I'll go out of my mind!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Writers Emotional Rollercoaster

I've come to learn that writing is an emotional rollercoaster. There are points when you finish polishing a passage of your story and you congratulate yourself on your superior use of craftmanship. Then there are days when you feel like your whole manuscript is shit and its time to pack it into the bottom of a trash bin.

Tonight I'm in the latter of the two moods. I know that the emotions are to be expected and that it is all part of the process - at least that's what I tell myself. But then the doubt creeps into my psyche and I wonder if I'm good enough - or even passable. I've had some people read my work and reply that it is good, but then others just don't seem to get it. Granted that a story will not appeal to everyone, but still...

It's all quite frustrating and I try to refrain from being defensive; thus the use of this blog to vent. I hope I'm not the only one to get into these frames of mind. One of my characters - the Mad Hatter - has an alternate ego that is personified in his mind. He refers to the personality as his "little imp" - a voice in his head that is much different than his primary. (Too bad I cut those sections out of my book.) Tonight I feel as if my "little imp" has taken control.

Monday, March 29, 2010

End in Sight

Early in 2006 I completed my first marathon. It took me a little over 4 hours to do it, but when I was done I couldn't walk well for at least three days. I've since learned lessons on how to keep from damaging my feet, unfortanetly it has done little good to prevent the pain incurred during the past two weeks. A supervisor at my company had been released from employment so I stepped in temporarily to assist the abandoned employees. Though the effort has provide with vast amounts of rewards the price I've paid is the extreme pain in my feet. Walking around the production floor for 11 or 12 hours a day for two weeks has taken its toll. Not only has me feet suffered, so has my editing of RABBIT SLAYER.

But there is an end in sight. Tonight I'll get an hour or two to work on Chapter 20 then tomorrow the new supervisor will be taking over the production line, which will allow me to resume a normal work schedule. Meaning that I'll have more time to edit.

I have come to the conclusion that the little arm chairs in Barnes & Noble are not sufficiently big enough for a man and his laptop. If I prop my elbows up on the arms my shoulders press into my ears. If I squeeze them down to the sides I feel like I'm crushing my rib cage. Neither is particularly comfortable.

And I really do enjoy helping people. The is a gentleman here at B&N pulling up a book on triathlons, so of course I had to talk to him. He's wanting to do a Sprint Tri coming soon. I've given him the name of a few books that are much better than the one that he is currently looking at. I really do miss doing the triathlons. Now that it's starting to warm up I need to get back into it. I'm wanting to get back into it and loose the extra weight I've put on in the last two years (since I started writing RABBIT SLAYER).

Oh joy - a table opened up with a close by power outet. Time to start editing.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Back to it

The weekend is over and I have a clearer head. The sun is shinning and the warmth is returning once again. It is weird to think that yesterday morning there was several inches of snow on the ground with the white stuff still coming down. I can feel the first searing rays of the sun that signals the start of Texas spring - which last less than a month. Within a few weeks we'll be seeing the boiling temps once more.

I've got a few hours to kill before going to rehearsal so I've parked my butt at a local Barnes & Noble in preparation to embark on the agonzing journey of editing Chapter 20. I know that I have only eight chapter more to edit before completing this revision of the book, but these next few chapters represent a daunting challenge of several POV switches. It is the part which I have been dreading for weeks now and I think it shows in my procrastination.

I know that the only way that I'll be able to get through these rough parts is to push forward, but at least my psyche is in the proper place to perform the polishing of the prose. - Yes the use of "p-words" is purposeful.

The chapter is open now and calling my name. The first paragraph needs attention. I am uncertain if I have been able to accomplish the desired affect. Which just drew myself to another literary quandry - the use of the word 'but'. I have found that I have been relying much on the use of the word to tie two sentences together. For example in the above sentence "I am uncertain if I have been...". I had orginally wrote that line to say "I know the effect I wanted to achieve, but I am uncertain if my goal has been accomplished." The newer sentence is about four words shorter and I have eliminated the 'but' word. With less words I have managed to convey the same message. I only wonder if the voice is carried across. I'll have to look into that more as I write and edit.

Yes I am trying to delay getting to my editing. Does it show that much? Okay - I'm going.

Really this time I mean it...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Taking a Break

Every so often writer's must take a break from editing, writing, and reading. I think that I am in one of those moods. For the past few days I haven't looked at the book at all. This isn't the first time. Over the past few years that I have been working on RABBIT SLAYER I have found myself in what I call a "writing rut". I'm just not in the mood to pull up the book or to do work on it.

It's not a bad thing I think. Forcing myself to work on the book in these moods will only create bad writing. I need to have a polished book at this point, not half-assed work. Polished work is going to sell my book. So I can't force myself into editing mode.

So I have been reading up on writing, visiting QueryTracker, and looking into online critique groups. Not sure how critique groups work, but the itdea is intriguing. I have been working with a person from England that has been very helpful. I think with some others the both of our writings can improve.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Critique Groups

Tonight I need to vent. For several weeks now I have been a part of some online critique groups (would have some personal ones if I could ever find any), and have come to a conclussion. They are good - up to a point. A writer must know when enough is enough and that we will not please everyone - especially ourselves. It's so easy to fall in to the trap of thinking that our work isn't good enough. I am no different. I don't know how many times I have wanted to give up thinking that I suck at this writing stuff. But I pushed onward and I am still pushing.

I am not saying that all critiques suck, but they all aren't good either. I have decided to look at critiques as critically as I would when I edit my or other's work.

My first point would be the credability of the person doing the critique. I will look at the critique from an agent or an English major differently than a sixteen year-old highschool student with several unfinished works. I'm not saying that the 16's advice isn't good (considering I'm writing a YA book), but I'll be more selective.

Secondly, I'm going to look at the critique itself. I've noticed that lots of people will question things that really don't have a reason to be questioned. I've been getting the impression that some will critique just to say they are critiquing - but not really knowing what the hell they are asking.

Next I'll want to look at the suggestions themselves. People who say "I don't like this" but don't explain why or provide an alternative may not be worth taking too seriously.

I've also noticed that people have strengths. Some exist in grammar, others in puncuations, while others work well with structure. I think that I'll look at those areas first.

Lastly, what does everyone else say? If someone gets lots off comments on one area, but one reply is out in left field - then perhaps I should not be really looking at what that person has to say.

Well, I'll get off my soap box now and get back to my editing. Thanks for tuning in.

And if you have some across critiques that really piss you off - let me know. I hope I'm not the only one that feels this way.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Back to the Editing

I've survived the week from orchestra hell. My arms feel like mush and I'm exhausted, but it's done. I have a short (only two hours) rehearsal tonight and then tomorrow I get an afternoon to rest. I still have a couple of hours to work on editing, so I find myself at the nearby Barnes and Noble on the laptop getting ready to edit. I've found that the blogging has helped my in getting my brain switched from the madness of work to the madness of editing and trimming my manuscript.

Okay, I'm curious.

Where is the strangest place you've found yourself working on your writing? Better yet - what helps you get into the right "mindset" for writing?

Sorry for the short post, but I have a short time to write tonight...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A break in the madness

Sunday morning and I have about an hour to myself. It has been quite a hectic week for me. Why does it always seem like life wants to intefere with my writing (or rather, editing). Oh the woes of the writer. So what else has been going on with me? Well let's see.

I finished the book "I Am Ozzy". I had to read this book because it's Ozzy. Granted that he utilizes a ghost writer, but it really has the "Ozzy" feel to the prose. I can easily picture Ozzy sitting in front of a mike talking about his life, Sharon translating what he said, and Chris transposing it to word. The book has got to be one of the funniest things I have ever read. It's great to see all the 'rumors' put to rest with Ozzy's own account of what has happened - no holes barred. If you don't get offended easily, its a must read.

I have also been reading "The First Five Pages", by Noah Lukeman. An excellent book on how an agent sorts through the massive amounts of manuscripts they see each week - and how to get passed the cuts. There are a lot of good suggestions in the book - even if the writing is a bit dry.

Oh and I did go see Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" movie yesterday with my daughter. I love being able to have an intelligent conversation with my 16 year-old on the merits of a movie. She felt that the story line was weak and relied too heavily on the special effects. However, she did like the reference to the books that was played on throughout the movie. I'd have to agree with her for the most part. I'm still not happy with the over use of the "nonsense" talk as Carroll used in the book. I'm also amazed that they can make an entire movie based on the short nonsense poem that Carroll put in "Through the looking glass". Burton's imagery is outstanding - as in most of his movies - and the plot is fairly straight forward.

So here I talk about life getting in the way of my writing, but I have time to read and see a movie. Sounds fishy right? Wrong. All my work is on a computer, which means I got to get to my laptop, power it up, and connect to the internet (to access my files). Something that takes time, space, and an ISP. Unfortantely I don't always have that luxury, but it's fairly simple to bring a book and get in a few pages while idle.

But today will be the last of the packed days for a while, so I can get back to editing RABBIT SLAYER. I have gotten up to Chapter 16 - and its open right now, staring at me, calling my name. This was an added chapter so I am still debating on its inclusion to the final MS. It does develop the connection between Emily and Dinah and it serves to get Emily to Wonderland. A critical point. So I guess I keep it, but slim it down.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Mad Hatter

Wow, look at that I now have six gracious followers to my blog. I wonder if I now need to come up with some clever words to entertain and keep them. Nah. I'll continue writing as I have since I started this a few months ago. But the question today is what to write?

I'm still creeping along with the editing down of my manuscript. The first 56K words was a cinch really. Cut this chapter or that one and before I know it there goes the prose. It really is a shame though to see them filed away in the "trash" folder. There is quite a lot that the reader is going to be missing out by my deleting those scenes. I am seriously consider creating a companion story that will run parallel to Rabbit Slayer. It might actually be more interesting to see the story behind the "anti-hero" of the Rabbit Slayer - the Mad Hatter. In my thought he really isn't all "bad" he's just a bit touched, but his heart is kinda in the right place - right next to his two livers and the singe kidney.

You know it wasn't right what the other suits had done to his family. It was quite a shame and to go through life knowing that you are the sole remaining survior of your blood line has got to be difficult, so its no wonder that he gets a bit obsessed at times. Seriously, there is all sorts of germs climbing around people, and some are placed there quite not be accident. He still remembers the horrid green look on his Da's face as the poision ate away at his innards. Quite gruesome, even for the Hatter. And to top it all off he had to learn a trade, like any commoner. A hatter no less. Could he be blamed for being mad with the tannum and dyes seeping into his brain as a youth?

Then there is the imp that had taken residence in his head sometime after he begun his apprenticeship. At first it was only a small voice that spoke to him in times of great emotion. By the time he had advanced to a master hatter the imp had a full personality unto itself. If it hadn't been for the imp Time would still be in control. But the imp was selfish and had taken over the hatter imprisioning Time. The Hatter has tried countless times to find out where the imp imprisoned, but he won't say.

So in all the Hatter, though mad - isn't such a bad guy after all. He just wants returned to him what is rightfully his. And so what if a few commoners are killed along the way. In the end it really doesn't matter only family matters.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Editing Woes

Well, I was hoping to get through much of my editing over the weekend, but life had other opportunities for me. Saturday morning I kissed the wife good-bye (she's an accountant and had to go to work), turned on the radio, and sat down at the laptop for a full day of editing. I had gotten chapter 13 opened when the DJ on the radio reminded me of Ozzy Osbourne doing his book signing less than 15 miles away. I hadn't planned on going, but the sun was shinning and the dog was lounging on the back pourch - a sure sign of a nice day - so I decided it'd be a nice ride on the motorcycle. And if the line was too long I'd just turn around and head back home - no loss.

I got to the store and there were people, but not too much (or so I thought). At 12:30pm I purchase two books for Ozzy to sign. 3:30pm Ozzy finally arrives. 6:30pm they finally call my group to line up. 7:30pm I find myself standing in front of Ozzy. And then I am pushed away before I can think of anything clever to say. He signed both books and sent me on my way. Needless to say I got no editing done on Saturday.

Sunday, I promised to take the wife to Phantom of the Opera. At $50 a ticket (already purchased) I wasn't going to stay at home. No worries, I can edit when I get home - right? WRONG? A friend of mine calls up with some personal issues and I happily help him. He leaves aroung 9:30pm. So no editing on Sunday either.

Actually I did do a little. Sometime during church I managed to figure out what was wrong with my first paragraph of chapter 1. Out comes the iPhone and I write the new paragraph, much to the dismay of the wife.

Today, I managed to get through 13 and I got back Chapter 1 from a new friend across the pond who graciously looked it over for me. It amazes me how many times I can look over the same sentence and still not see what is actually written! My mind knows what I want to say, so my brain inserts or deletes the words that are missing. Yeah, I know I got to read it outloud. I promise I will, but I'd really like to get through the 3rd rewrite before going back to do the reading out loud editing.

And here I thought that writing the book was the hard part - and I have 8 of these things planned? I must me as mad as the Mad Hatter in my book.