I learned to crochet first. When I began knitting, I didn’t know I could use a crochet hook to fix mistakes several rows back. I thought that a purl, which should have been a knit, would remain forever a mistake, unless I was brave enough to try ripping out the last few rows (and by some miracle get all the loops back on the needle). I thought fixing mistakes in crocheting was easier, because after you rip back to the error, you have only one loop to pick up to start again.
Now I know better.
As I ripped out line after line of Tunisian crochet back to the place where I went from 24 to 23 stitches per row, I wished I was knitting.
Sometimes editing is like knitting. Sometimes there are things that can be fixed without taking a whole scene or a whole chapter apart.
Sometimes, editing is like crocheting. Rip out and redo.
I ripped Featherfolk down to the base chain when I started draft II.
Ah well, back to work.
Raven got his first solid rejection yesterday!
And as I’d hoped, it came with useful criticism on pacing and plot issues. The more distance I get from that manuscript, the more I suspect there is still plenty of editing work to be done, and now I have a few ideas of what direction to take.
We’ll see what sort of answer comes from the other agent who has the manuscript in her hands.
I haven’t been at this very long, but I have two pieces of advice for writers beginning the submission process:
1: Keep writing while your manuscript is out. Start something completely unrelated. The more I get excited about Featherfolk and other stories, the less I feel Raven and the Trinketeers is the pinnacle of my work. I’m still on the uphill climb, still improving. There are even more amazing things to come. So if I can’t ever get Raven into shape for publication, I’ll be fine.
2: Remember that you are not your story. You are not even your career. You are a son or daughter of God, and whether or not someone likes your work or wants to publish it has nothing at all to do with your worth as a person. Good news or bad news can’t rock you if you remember that.
Now, back to scribbling.
I spent a lot of yesterday playing around with maps. For research purposes of course.
Did you know you can walk around at ground level in Google Earth? It’s far easier to control than the flying simulator, and looks just as cool.
Anyway, lots of pieces have fallen into place for ways I want to rework the magic systems, setting, and pacing of Featherfolk. There will be more research to do as I go along, but I’m to a point where I can start. Today I tackle chapter one.
I’ll be doing my best to finish the second draft before November, so that I don’t have to take a break of indeterminate length in the middle of the draft while I figure out how to care for a newborn.
Now go play with Google Earth. I dare you.
While Raven is stepping out on submission, I’ve decided to turn my efforts to his sequel, Gwenolwyn and the Crystal Vault. This was my NaNoWriMo project last November, and while I “won” NaNo by hitting 50,000 words, I have not finished the first draft of Gwen’s story.
In addition, I sort of went off the rails around 30,000 words and most of what followed will need to be scrapped.
So where to start?
I’m starting by stepping back and deciding what story I want to tell.
I’m brainstorming. I’m letting go of what the manuscript is and looking at what it could be. Once I figure that out, I’ll pick up roughly where I left off, but tell the story as it should have been. When I reach the end, I’ll go back and retell the beginning until I meet myself in the middle. (Hey, it worked for Raven.)
I’m not worrying about how much work it will take to incorporate some of the ideas I’ve come up with. After all, watering a live plant is much more productive than watering a dead one.
Gwen’s story is more complicated than Raven’s. It gets darker. It gets more dangerous. But I want to tell it.
I’ll keep you posted.
P.S. Happy Independence Day! Our country is far from perfect, but it’s the only United States of America we’ve got.
Last night I hit it again. That wall where suddenly every comment on my work puts my hair on end, and I wonder how I ever thought anyone would want to read this manuscript. After scrolling with mounting ire through a few more comments, I look at the clock, and oh… that’s why.
I tend to get to that state by about 9 pm regardless of how much editing I’ve done during the day. (And yesterday I’d binge-edited eight chapters by that point.)
So I said “I’m done,” and tucked my manuscript in for the night. Even though I wanted to finish up the draft, it just wasn’t going to happen. I have learned that editing while tired is more likely to result in frustration and tears than improvements to the draft.
Hey, look, a metaphor!
Millstones had patterns of radiating arcs cut into them so they would grind better. Periodically the patterns had to be re-cut because they would become worn down. This is one of the millstones I saw at the windmill by Sanssoucci Palace in Potsdam, Germany.
Don’t try to keep grinding away at your draft with a dull millstone. Rest when you need to.
Here’s to a new day, new energy, new insights, and new creativity.
Does this sight make you jump up and down with joy? It should, but it doesn’t, right?
As feedback from my lovely beta readers trickles in, I realize I’m not as good at taking criticism as I want to be. So I wrote up some rules for myself. Enjoy.
#1 Thou shalt not take any critique personally; receiving feedback is a sign that others do indeed think thee and thy manuscript are worth the effort.
#2 Thou shalt not get defensive (thy readers may actually know what they are talking about).
#3 Thou shalt break critiques into manageable chunks.
#4 Thou shalt consider EVERY SINGLE SUGGESTION.
#5 Thou shalt ask thy reader(s) for clarification.
#6 Thou shalt thank thy reader(s).
#7 Thou shalt revise.
#8 Thou shalt solicit more feedback.
#9 Thou shalt not give up
even though thou art clearly a horrible, horrible writer who shall never accomplish anything with thy life.
#10 Thou shalt reward thy diligence with breaks and treats (within reason).
Now I’d better get off the internet and work on #3 and #7.