Sorry for my blogging absence (again…). It’s becoming more and more difficult to squeeze blogging into my very busy schedule. Since taking on lots more contract work (thank goodness!!), my free time is limited for this sort of thing. As well, my host has been having some issues and my site has actually been experiencing problems lately. I apologize for the inconvenience. Still, I want to keep you all apprised of what I’ve got going on. I am hard at work on the third Tale from Niflheim, don’t you worry. It’s actually that manuscript that I’d like to talk about today.
I don’t typically discuss my works-in-progress very often. They’re messy and filled with perils of their own and it can produce odd feelings within to talk about them with others. I think, however, that sharing my struggles with my current draft might be of some use to other writers out there, so here we are. My issues with this project began last year. I published Silent Shades (the sequel to Night Bells) in the fall of 2012, shortly after publishing the first book in the series. I worked on some other projects, but then got back to working on the third book. When I tell you that I felt like I was running uphill with a bag of rocks on my back, I don’t mean to over-exaggerate. This book has been the toughest book I’ve ever worked on.
I soon needed another break from the third book and began work on other stories. I also published a novella called The Dark Ship in early 2013. I had every intention of plowing through the third Niflheim book and then releasing it sometime in 2013. AND then real life happened. A lot of real life. I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say that I was given many, many opportunities for growth last year and that many of them took up all of my attention, strength, and emotional reservoir. My writing suffered. My other passions suffered. I fell into a deep writers block that seemed like it would never end.
At the end of 2013, I was bound and determined to get my writing back into the productive-zone and I pulled out the third Niflheim book. It was still hard. The manuscript was a mess, full of holes, clunky prose, awkward dialogue, and poorly envisioned scenes. As well, I had a mountain of rewrites to get through just to make the first draft make sense. I also had to finish the darn thing (which I haven’t yet). Since (let’s be honest) writing doesn’t pay the bills for me yet, I realized that I don’t have as much time pressure to publish as other authors do. It’s already been awhile since I’ve published anything, so I know I’m kind of “out of the public eye” at the moment.
I don’t say all of that to wallow in self-pity. On the contrary, I think it’s a great thing! I’ve decided to fully focus on my craft; on the fun of writing; on my characters. NOT on the publishing aspect or the marketing. Those things are important and are definitely relevant to the self-published author’s life, but it’s not as important to me as enjoying what I do. I want writing to remain a passion in my life and because of that, I have pursued other means of employment to keep myself occupied and to keep food on the table.
I suppose I should get back to the main point of this post, however, and discuss my process for dealing with a troublesome manuscript. *Ahem*, here we go:
1. Take a break, but only a short one. // I didn’t tuck tail and run at the first sign of trouble in this manuscript, but after several had worn me out and sucked all my zeal for the project, I did decide to take a break and work on other stories. It was refreshing, allowed me to keep up my practice of the craft, and enabled me to keep my brain active in the story-telling process.
2. When you jump back in, READ THE MANUSCRIPT. // I know this may be an obvious tip, but it can sometimes be hard to read through a mess of a draft and make sense of it. Do it, though, because you’ll be able to pick up the threads you want to keep and weed out the plot lines or characters that don’t make any sense. Make copious notes for yourself about things you’d like to tweak, change, keep, or get rid of entirely. It will make continuing your draft a lot better and help you plan a little bit (if you’re a pantser like me).
3. Work on coherency. // I’m a big believer that first drafts should make sense. If you’ve got all kinds of rats’ nests in there and things just aren’t meshing well, WORK THAT CRAP OUT. It can take a really long time. I’ve done several rewrites on this draft just so that I can get a coherent story out of it before I finish it up. It’s grueling work and it can easily burn you out, so be sure to read a lot of fun books during this time to keep your faith in writing and also work on other projects at the same time if you need to.
4. Chin up. Writing is hard for everyone. You are no exception. // This is something I often forget. I tend to imagine all the other awesome authors living on clouds with rainbows and sparkles all around them when they’re sitting there tumbling out the words. That’s not how it works. Sure, some authors may be insanely more prolific than others, but just like you those authors are working hard at their writing. Besides, what do you care if another writer has it easier than you? You can’t know that (a) and, besides, comparison is the thief of joy (b). Worry about your own work and be positive. Be your own biggest fan.
5. Keep going, even when you just want to quit. // There have honestly been times when I thought about shelving this story for good. My love for these characters, however, have kept me going. Someone has to tell their story, or they’ll remain forever in my own head. As well, it warms my heart to no end when I hear people asking about the third book and when they can expect it. That alone is enough to keep me going when it gets tough.
This manuscript is still a hot mess. I still have plenty of rewriting to attend to before I can even think about finishing the book, but I know that it’ll all get done. I have no idea when I’ll be finished. I’m not going to put that pressure on myself. I am, however, going to pressure myself to keep going when the going gets rough. I’m going to think positively and be my own fan again. Writing used to be a passion for me. Characters and scenes would pester me when I was trying to sleep at night. Though I’m still sort of in a slump when it comes to my author’s enthusiasm, I’m determined to get the spark back; even if I have to get flint and tender and create it myself.
Happy writing, happy reading until we “meet” again.