Saturday 17 September 2011

"Counterpunch" edits - done

Ten days later - and I'm done with "Counterpunch", which received a pretty good scrubbing in the meantime. I've cut the lazy writing, sharpened my structure, fixed some factual mistakes (these days, all writers have to do their own fact-checking anyway), and cut all the flourishes and self-indulgence that added nothing to the book.

Which now means I'm trashing my print-outs, my notes and re-shelf my books on boxing. Clean up my work area and thus clear my mind of the book and characters. And then I'll sit down in a corner, cradle my hurting brain and whimper softly. (Editing a book means you have to carry the whole thing in your head and remember everything, because nobody else will ever point out the small issues and mistakes, and nobody takes ownership of this, so, essentially, this final edit is very much the writer's obligation, and wow, but it's hard work.)

Editing, I've heard it said, is the punishment for writing.

But holding the book like that, and having done my research and my fact check, I have ideas for a sequel, possibly. There's some intriguing possibilities with the characters, and another character who can mess it all up.

However, it's all up in the sky right now. I'll need to clear my head now, do nothing writing-related for a couple days (I'm thinking I'll play "Gears of War" pts. 1 and 2 to celebrate the launch of "Gears of War 3" NEXT FRIDAY!!!), then do the sanity and typo check on two novels of two friends - both urgent, both great novels.

After that, I'll write my half of "Lion of Kent 2" (which involves a metric fuckton of research) for Carina Press (hopefully), and hope to close 2011 with that.

In terms of novels, I'll dedicate 2012 entirely to WWII - both novels need to get going again or I'll lose the characters, but the research is intimidating to say the least. Twelve months for two historical novels and around 50 books of research sound about right.

After all the books written this year, I'm looking forward to taking things down a notch. Writing novels in 6-8 weeks is completely insane. I simply can't do it. I dig in too deep, deal with pretty complex things and I can't do that in 6-8 weeks. I'll need some time to find my equilibrium, so I'd say 2012 will be a "slow" year, and I'll definitely try to do some travelling, too after staying at home in 2011.

So, yep. Mission Accomplished. Now relaxing.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Counterpunch edits

I got the edits for "Counterpunch" yesterday, which all seem relatively minor--a couple typos, passages where the rhythm is off, house style things and that's pretty much it (I guess I'm just a clean writer overall, and "Counterpunch" has come out pretty clean overall). So that could be easy, right? Err, no. I've recently been on a bit of a "trip to the past" with regards to my style, which tends to mean paring the fluff down even more, using a tighter POV and overall better structure.

Which means, knives are out and I'm giving this book the full treatment once I have a moment. (Work at work is crazy. We're again under strength, thanks to holidays and people leaving. Which is somewhat unfortunate in terms of timing.) The biggest decision I have to make is how to deal with any potential connected work.

Right now, there are a couple "missing scenes" from "Counterpunch" that would make a good addition to the book. Originally, I was hoping to write a related project (possibly a novella), this month, but I don't think I can fit it in. I'm also thinking that that novella might actually belong to a potential sequel or might stand completely on its own. The main issue is, the novella puts everything that happened in "Counterpunch" into a completely different light, and it seems wrong to simply deliver that like an afterthought. So, potentially, that idea might be large, it might start where "Counterpunch" ends, and I'm running out of time on the "Lion" sequel and a number other projects.

A couple days ago, a good friend told me she has an aggressive cancer, which in many ways brings home mortality (apart from all the other emotions that I can't speak about--least of all in public. That's stuff that I need to work through on my own, really). From my family history, I have a good chance to get cancer, too, so at least I have a fair idea how I'm going to end.

As a writer, it made me think of all the books I really want to write. It's that old mind-game: If you only had a year to live, what would you write?

In my case, that's "finishing Dark Soul" (a project that's ~20 years old), "Lion 2", and the two WWII novels. So that's basically what I'm going to do, before I think about any short stories, novellas or sequels to anything else. The WWII novels especially have been heavy on my brain, so I'll focus on those for the rest of the year and likely all of 2012.

2011 has been an insanely productive period, but part of me thinks "stop messing around" - it's like I'm running to all these other projects largely because I'm scared as hell to mess up the historicals. I'm scared witless of getting any of that stuff wrong. It's time to turn around and face that particular tiger.

I have that one short story to write and "Counterpunch" to edit, and then I'll tackle those three books. It might even mean that that's all that's coming out in 2012 or even in 2013, but I'm OK with that. If I still have time to play, I'm sure I'll find some projects to fill up the rest of the schedule.

Friday 2 September 2011

More scarce

Several of my people have asked whether I'm OK - so I'm just quickly writing that, yup, I am.

I'm just busy, doing dozen of hours of developmental edits and spending the rest of the time not socializing - I've even left my RL writing group, hard as it was, but I simply wasn't contributing the level of critique that would have been helpful - and the remaining time goes toward getting some writing in.

I've found the time to re-read the Two Birds book and the good news is that the writing's pretty good. It'll need some editing, but we have a pretty solid piece so far. Certainly not the worst thing I've ever written, which is something. The *bad news* is that I've forgotten the rest of the plot. I barely know what happens *now*, but after that I'm drawing blanks - and I had a full plot, I'm pretty sure of that. So, yeah, apparently two months or so is enough to forget a plot. Those were two busy months, but, still.

So, as the saying goes, if you don't hear anything from me, I'm writing. I've also started watching "Neverwhere" by Neil Gaiman, which, when I tried it many moons ago, didn't do much for me. Now that I know London, however, that's very different. I'm enjoying the insider jokes. Two episodes down, four more to go over the weekend.

Starting on Monday, I'm expecting the edits back for "Counterpunch", and that means more work and a whole LOT more work to turn this around for release. It's OK, it's a good book and I don't expect it to give me any trouble. And while I hope that the editor did more to it than fix a couple wonky commas, I am hoping there won't be huge rewrites.

Chances are, I'll be a bit scarce on the ground this month, as I try to put at least a historical novel and "Counterpunch" to bed. But autumn is the time to slow down, take stock and make the house ready for winter.