Monday 20 May 2013

Cloudy, but on track

I didn't manage to do very much over the last couple weeks because I'm writing (and editing). I'm also somewhat limited by my new treadmill desk; as I'm getting used to walking while writing, my feet just simply give out after a few hours on it and I'm then doing Other Things and focus my online time on writing to make the best use of the time I do have.

I'm also in the "throw words on the paper" stage of writing Lying with Scorpions (LwS), the sequel of Scorpion. I'd conservatively estimated that LwS would be the same length as Scorpion (72k), but I'm now a touch under 60k and still have 7 chapters in my 20-chapter outline that are barely touched. So far, my chapters are between 3k and 7k, so I have about 21k to 35k left to write. Needless to say, while full-time employed, that's near impossible to pull off by 27th May (hey, next Monday!), but I'm giving it a good race. I'll definitely need another week, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't seem like a Major Thing. For the most part, I'm keeping my head down and working hard.

There's also really no point hemming and hawing over the plot. A few chapters ago, I switched to writing with an outline (recently, I haven't been using one), and my wordcount is definitely up. I've also skipped out of self-editing a while back. Self-editing while I write just makes me question myself every step of the way--which so isn't good when I try to do 1-2k a day.

To hit wordcount, I essentially need to switch off the critical facility and "outsource" it to a couple friends who *will* tell me if I'm writing shit. At this stage, it feels like I'm in freefall while blindfolded--I'm out of the plane and approaching terminal velocity (in a manner of speaking, 1-2k/day is nothing for many writers). I have to trust that the outline holds, the chute opens, and my jump buddies tells me when I'm heading towards trees or a cliff, because on my own, I might not be able to see/avoid them.

I actually prefer to work differently--I edit as I go along, I write more slowly, I don't usually try to "get through that scene to make wordcount tonight", so this is a bit challenging. I'm halfway freaked out whether it's any good. I berate myself for ruining a good first book with a bad second book, I worry how readers who are invested in one particular character will respond to what I'm doing.

In short, I'm telling myself it's a horrific idea, how could I, why would anybody want to read this crap, etc.

People aren't kidding when they talk about being their own worst enemy. There's nothing any reviewer can write later about this book that I haven't thought while writing it. When you wrestle your own angels all the way, reviewers are not actually that bad. Many of them are actually a huge amount more kind than that angel I'm dealing with, who is pretty much pitiless. All of this is an internal battle, and one I have to fight every time, so you'd imagine I'm by now used to it.

The good thing is, once it's written, a decent author and a good editor together can fix just about everything. I'm hoping to clean up the style/writing/repetitions and discover the book isn't hopeless. At this stage, I'm running blind, and I'll have to trust my buddies to get me to the end and then my editor to help me fix the structure (it's a slow book, and I fully expect to lose 10% in the final edit) and all the other aspects. It feels like a huge imposition to just write and accumulate words, but I have to separate those two styeps in my brain. Writing first, editingsecond. It's the mantra I used to preach when writing students were blocking themselves with fear and/or ambition (the combination is even worse).

So I'm working and writing and about 70% there, which explains why I've been scarce in other places. I'm bringing the herd home now, or at least, I can see the destination and have a rough idea how to get there. I j ust have to trust that this is/was a book worth fighting the angel for.

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