Saturday, June 20, 2009

Oh, crap, what have I DONE?

Is there such a thing as "submitter's remorse" when one sends out a manuscript? Heck, I haven't even sent it out for publication, just for an initial read by some friends of mine and now I'm thinking "Ack! What was I thinking? This is a self-indulgent mess!"

Then again, I'm grappling with a slight case of depression, so that may just be the serotonin deprivation talking. I suppose I'll find out whenever I hear back from the folks I sent it to.

Friday, June 19, 2009


So I did one last read-through, transformed it into a PDF and sent it to a short list of people I trust.

I feel like I just jumped off a cliff and have no idea what I'm going to land on.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Okay, remember that scene I'd retrieved from a previous draft and added back into the manuscript?

I took it back out again.

The perfect final ending I came up with didn't fully jibe with the scene before it and I realized that it needed to be excised for the thing to flow properly. I spent some time coming up with a better way to conclude the penultimate chapter and after a few tries I think I have something that works.

I'm still in the process of reading the entire thing aloud to catch any missed fuck ups and to purge any awkward language. Once that's done, then it's time for conversion and handing it to my initial readers.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I think it's at a point where I can show it to people. Not quite ready to be published, but ready to be run past some People Who Are Not Me to get a feel for how it looks from other angles.

I'm kind of elated and frightened at the same time.

I think one more read-through and then I'll be dealing with formatting and converting the result into a PDF and figuring out who to send it to.

Endings, again . . .

So I was at a networking meeting thingy this morning and somewhere in the middle of it I got clobbered over the head with a scene that I feel brings the novel to a proper conclusion. I rushed home to hash it out the moment I had a chance.

I think it's a good sign that when I read the last lines I thought "Yeah. Yeah, that's it."

There are a couple more scenes that I want to revamp, followed by one more going-over of the novel in total and then the next step will be rendering it into a PDF and finding people I can trust enough to show it to. I still don't think it's fully ready for publication but it is at a point where I can solicit feedback without whimpering in shame at the obvious flaws.

Monday, June 8, 2009

I Suppose I Should Explain That One, Hm?

As I wrote in my excuse note, yesterday I didn't get any work done on the novel because I was sitting in a parking lot watching people trade stories for drinks. Yes, really.

Once a year, the Starlight Drive-In (one of the last surviving drive-in theaters in the country) hosts an event called Rock n Roll Monster Bash, which features rock bands during the day and a double feature of monster movies when it gets dark. The Venn diagram of people who like rock music and people who like B-movies has a pretty significant overlap, so it draws quite the crowd. So what does this have to do with people telling stories for drinks? Officially, nothing, but my older brother has established a tradition whereby he brings his portable bar and offers people drinks in exchange for interesting stories about their lives. When people scratch their heads and say they don't have any interesting stories, my brother prompts them with the following suggestions--arrested, almost arrested, could have been arrested or naked. Pretty much everybody he says that to will light up and say "Oh, wait, I've got one!"

I mostly stayed in the tent we'd set up and watched people tell their stories. It gave me some interesting insights into what makes a good story. (In the interest of privacy, the examples here are composites of the kinds of stories we would get, rather than specific ones.)

1. Detail is good. Telling me about the time you were fleeing the police is not nearly as fun as telling me about the time you were fleeing the police, spilled your PBR in your lap and nearly set fire to your backseat when your cigarette flew out of your mouth because you had the windows open.

2. Plot is better. Okay, I know where you grew up, I know what drugs you used to take, I know you really love that band and, yes, that's a pretty nice tattoo. But that doesn't quite add up to a story.

3. Mystery is especially good. We've had more than one waking-up-and-not-sure-how-one-got-there narrative over the years, but the better ones start with the waking up and end with finding out what happened, rather than starting with the events that led up to the amnesia.

4. Peril is also good. While not every story involved people coming precariously close to arrest, deportation or death (and they don't always have to, honestly) I must say that the ones that did certainly stuck with me.

5. Humor helps a lot. Particularly when dealing with peril, as noted above.

6. A story should be exactly long enough to tell everything that's worth telling, but no longer. Some stories were almost frustrating in their brevity, while others, well, I know I was losing interest when I started to feel sorry for the folks in line behind.

Our compulsion--indeed, our very ability--to tell stories is one of the things that makes human beings such a unique creature on this planet. Other animals may be able to communicate, but I don't know of another animal that can communicate in a way that surprises and delights the way storytelling does. I hope I can keep these lessons in mind as I continue the process of revision.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Excuse Note #7

Please excuse Sheila from working on her novel today as she spent most of the day in a parking lot, watching people trade stories for drinks.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


So I added back an additional scene that I'd lopped off and grafted it to the ending.

I'm still not 100% sure about it. But it seems to work better than where I'd originally left off and it was nice to retrieve some of those clever lines that I'd tossed away. (Thank goodness for saved drafts.) And now I'm already pondering ways to rewrite the returned lines into something a little more plausible than what I'd put down in the flurry of NaNo.

I think I'll go do that now.


Just at the point when I think, oh, man, I'm so stuck, I'm never going to finish this thing, I wound up devoting all three of my morning pages to writing about it. It's a sort of ramble about something that happens 'offstage' and now I'll have to rewrite the scene it leads up to now that I know more about what happened beforehand.

I sometimes wonder if there's going to be a word left standing of my original draft by the time I'm done with it.