Pencil to Paper

The Daily Life of a Compulsive Writer

Taking the Next Step March 4, 2012

Filed under: Writing — katblogger @ 8:13 PM
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I’ve done the bulk of my revisions. I’ve gone through chapter by chapter, reducing 1059 ‘was’s to 432, which is quite an achievement. I’ve glared at awkward sentences and rewritten them until they sound awkward in a slightly different way. I’ve occasionally read dialogue out loud to make sure it flows right, even though my dialogue can sound pretty strange out of context. (A complete read through will have to wait.) I’ve messed with the story arc, forcing in extra scenes and hoping that characters don’t end up in two different places on the same Wednesday. The book is finally, to a great extent, done.

Now, naturally, I need it to be ripped apart again. And for that I need beta readers.

I’ve used my mother and brother for beta readers, and they’re… all right. But let’s get real. Your mother will never tell you, “This is awful. The plot is cliché, the conclusion is preachy, your characters are flat, and this should be used to line the cage of an ill-tempered gerbil.” She just won’t.

Meanwhile, my brother will occasionally begin “Oh yeah, my sister wrote a book where…” and I’ll have to throw something at him or rapidly deny everything. This has happened multiple times.

Inkpop served as a great place to get good criticism, but now that’s over. I thought about moving to Wattpad, but after seeing this in a guide to newcomers, I decided that I’d be better off on my own:

When you really want to leave an honest critique, it is better to ask the write…r if it is alright. Even after you critique their story they still might get offended. You haven’t done anything wrong and neither have they. They just don’t understand that you would be saying anything negative about their story.

Nice. I don’t do sugar coated, and I don’t like getting it either.

This leaves friends. Friends aren’t ideal, but they’re not blood relatives and I can at least hope that they’ll be honest with me. So now I’ll be considering candidates, typing up emails, and hitting send to the people I’ll feel least embarrassed to have read what I’ve written. This number is very small.

Then I’ll go to work on something else and probably forget all about it. I’ve been working on this manuscript for almost a year now. I kind of hate it. But someday – maybe a few weeks later – there will be an email in my inbox. My pulse will start racing. Potential criticisms will flash across my brain. I’ll realize that I care slightly more than I thought I did. And then the glorious, horrible process of revisions will start all over again.


The Terror Diaries, pt1 July 11, 2011

Filed under: Writing — katblogger @ 1:34 PM
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I am currently hiding in my bedroom.

This is not something I typically do. However, I think I have reasonable cause. You see, yesterday I finished printing my novel rough draft of Strange Bedfellows. There was one unfortunate paper jam resulting in an interesting diagonal-type effect, but other than that things went smoothly. I was not pleased. That meant I had to hand it over.

The day of judgement arrived, and no one mentioned it. Neither my mother or brother, my appointed beta testers, seemed to remember I was going to let them read anything I’d written. After all, I never did. I almost talked myself out of it three times as the blind panic mounted.

At about ten in the morning, my blind panic was temporarily diverted when my mother announced that I was going to learn to drive on the highway. Although I’m well past sixteen, I despise cars and all of what they stand for, and dislike driving more than thirty miles per hour. A different kind of blind panic set in.

However, once I realized I wasn’t dead on the interstate and that my novel would never see the light of day if no one read it, I steeled myself. Feeling the same sense of fear and inevitability as I had behind the steering wheel of a car going sixty-five miles per hour, I walked downstairs, clutching my manuscript to my chest. Under the neutral gazes of my family (probably highly amused at my panicked state) I explained:

1. I was completely terrified, and planned to hide in my room once the manuscript was handed over.

2. There’s only one hard copy – there’s no way I’m letting my little brother loose on my electronic version. If they found bits they liked, disliked, or found confusing, I’d supplied handy post-it notes to mark the areas.

3. As I explained in my last post, the current state of my manuscript is very rough. I’m only handing it over because my strange almost-courage might desert me.

After imparting my wisdom, I threw the manuscript down and ran upstairs, where I currently reside sprawled on the floor, with a laptop and a book on writing for young adults. The book is kind of helpful, even though it was written in 1995 and devoted a chapter on what the internet was. The laptop, in my opinion, is an evil machine bent on my destruction, with a distressing habit of devouring my files and losing them somewhere in the depths of cyberspace. But here I will remain for as long as possible, too embarrassed to come out. I’m not sure what I’ll do about dinner yet.

Perhaps I’m overreacting just a tad. Still, thoughts keep chasing themselves around my mind. I could have polished it more. I could have shown them something else. ANYTHING else. One of my normal novels. This one’s too weird. It’s awful. Ugh. Maybe I should jump out the window and run for Canada.

Hopefully in a few hours I’ll have calmed down. Hopefully this will be the hardest time, and after this I won’t be afraid to share my work. I hope so, anyway. Otherwise I’m going to be pretty hungry in a few days.