Revision’s Threshold

I feel the edges of a new threshold pressing around me.  It’s the Cave of Revision, and it’s dark.

I take comfort in the knowledge that many other writers have passed this way, some famous, some not so much. Some of these writers are my friends, who have given me advice, or written books or blogs about how to keep going.  How to keep pushing yourself into a better writer.  How to push yourself toward being published, past the level of the hobby writer.

I do note, however, the few who wistfully warn me away from going any farther down this road.  Their forlorn words are weathered signposts, encouraging me to stay on the path of the blissful hobbyist.  Keep Away!  Turn Back Before It’s Too Late!  Don’t Go This Way!

But it is too late.  I need to tell the story that burns too brightly in me.  Not for fame; I see how it ruins so many lives.  Those it touches contort into impossible shapes to keep that limelight on themselves.  And not for riches; that is its own kind of hair shirt.  I have no need to get-rich-quick.  I simply want to be spoken of with affection by those that know me, and make a comfortable living doing something I love.

Writing is my second chance, my “do-over”, but only because I am already doing it.  I have other choices, and some of them could earn me a living if I focused on them.  Art is in my hands, and in my head, and in my heart.  I will still do other arts; I’ll never give up my anarchistic hobbies, and the soothing rhythm of needle and thread can free your mind to pull apart plots and characters, then stitch them back together, better.

My beta readers have given me enough to see my way, at least the first steps.  I have some hard work ahead, and even harder decisions to make. I’ll hone the edge of my skill against the words of my bookish mentors, and hopefully kill my darlings mercifully. They won’t stop the story burning its way out.  (Hey, maybe I should get a Doctor to check that.)

So, like the archetypical Hero, I ignore the warnings, tighten my belt, gird my loins, and check my weapons.  Looking back down the path, I see the lessons I’ve learned.  Some were painful, some were fun, all were necessary.  I glance at my companions, those I’ve gathered along the way, and step forward, into the Cave of Revision.

Damn, anybody got a light?

Climbing the Next Step

I handed off my first manuscript to my first round of beta readers.  It was a leap of faith in myself, that I could someday tell a story well enough to publish it.  I’m not saying it was exactly like leaving the house without my infant for the first time, putting her care totally in hands other than mine, but it was.  I’m trying to not worry.  I worry.

I simply can’t afford an editor, and the time and money to find the right one (who will actually improve my work) aren’t resources I have at this point in my writing career.  So I educate myself as much as possible, learn the tools in the word program, and rely on a circle of close friends who also read/write.  They will guide me up the next step toward self-publishing.

Self-editing had become a round of avoiding the manuscript, not writing other projects because I was using my limited writing time to edit, and editing grammar in scenes I wasn’t sure should BE in the manuscript.  To re use the over used metaphor; I could see the forest, loved the trees, but suspected some of those trees need the axe.  I called in the beta-lumberjacks, because they’re ok.  Even if they wear suspenders and a bra.

I could see the non-vicious circle of self-editing becoming a comfortable home, and how so many writers live there.  Endlessly picking and adjusting, never showing their work to another person because “It’s not ready.”  I have new respect for the writers who have overcome that fear, and more empathy for those who haven’t (yet) taken that step.

To help distract myself from the counterproductive editing, I managed to pick up one of my other projects, and I’m trying to get it into the shape of a rough draft.  The feel of applying pen to paper, gliding across in loops and squiggles, is a productive effort and hugely creative.  Daily word count is so much more self-affirming. I remember this joy.

It’s crap.  But it’s glorious, visceral, and colorful crap.  Crap that can be useable, once refined.  This time, the estimated word count is manageable, something that could make the rounds for small publishers.  It’s also vampires.  Simultaneously popular AND overdone, but the story wants what it wants.  <shrug>  So, we make it fun, sexy vampire romance crap, rolling in modern cultural jokes and stereotypes, while picking apart the legends and applying science like a halogen lamp.

And my search history gets weirder…