This week that just ended was the last week of the quarter, over in my paying job, and grades were due Friday. So rather than writing, I spent the week revising. I'm off this week for Spring Break, so I plan to make up the ground now. But revising was less time-consuming and let me focus on the work I needed to do. Also, I was writing at such a fever pitch for about a month there that I was letting Cor's critiques just pile up; I was reading them, but not actually doing anything with them. Now I'm caught up with that.
I picked up another thousand words or so. I am a tiny bit worried that it's going to be too big. Not too worried yet--maybe I'll find that the later parts come up less wordy. I'm inclined to move away from describing it as YA--which I never set out for it to be--and just describe the plot when people ask, and let them decide for themselves what it sounds like. For one thing, if I should end up at 125,000 words or so, that seems too long for a YA.
Cor and I spent this weekend at an event for readers and writers in Mount Dora. Met a few romance novelists, and just lurked around picking up whatever nuggets of advice I could. I had a couple of duh moments, when I realized I had forgotten something I had once known or overlooked something obvious. Most notably, in the area of chapter hooks. When I wrote my first completed back-of-the-drawer novel, Prototype, for all its horrible problems, I knew about hooks. Intuitively, even. I don't remember being told, but I ended most of the chapters with hooks. Suddenly last night, I looked back over my current ms and realized that I generally wasn't. What's worse, I had hook moments near the end of every chapter, and I was blowing right past them, resolving them, and then ending the chapter on an insert-bookmark-here note. I actually even committed the worst hook sin of all: I literally had one chapter end with the protagonist going to sleep! Holy crap! Thank God someone pointed my attention in the right direction before I got around to submitting stuff!
The duh moment was also hook related. Of course you should try to hook your reader in all your chapters, but of all the chapter hooks, the one you damn sure better not miss is the one at the end of chapter three--because that's the last one in your novel proposal! I'd never thought of that, but . . . duh!
Other notable moments . . . Linnea Sinclair now calls Cor and me her "stalkers." Um, that's . . . *gulp* . . . um, okay. And yet, my weirdest moment came not with her, but when I asked Elizabeth Sinclair (no relation) if I could crawl under her car! See, she drives a minivan, and just that morning I had run into a realism question, about whether or not my protagonist could fit under a minivan without it being raised on a jack. (The answer: yes.) Oh, and then I very nearly underpaid her for one of her books because I couldn't find the checkbook and we didn't have very much cash between us, and she graciously suggested we could send her the difference later. Luckily, though, Cor found the checkbook. I had actually picked it up and tossed it aside while looking for it. One of my processing issues . . . it's like I have some sort of aphasia-like thing, where I look at things or people, but utterly don't process what they are.
Lessee, what else . . . you know, I really think this is going to be the book/story that finds a home. That's a big part of why I'm blogging it, of course. I want a record of the process. I'm not given to giddy enthusiasm or overconfidence, so it means something when I say I think I'm on the right track now. I remember when I finished writing Prototype feeling that I had learned so much through the process, that the next novel would really be helped by it. Well, it took a few more years, but I think a lot of those lessons are finally yielding tangible results with this book. It's not that I'm blown away by the quality of my own words, but that I think I've brought the bottom up, so maybe I used to find a paragraph or a page that would blow me away, but the differential between that and the worst of my writing was extreme. Also, I'm starting to learn a lot about how to approach getting published like a business. I think a lot of writers just hole up in their garrets and churn out their art and then wait for the world to beat a path to their door, and it just doesn't happen. Certainly that used to describe me. Now, I'm learning a lot more (through Linnea Sinclair and through Cor's correspondence with her) about finding your niche, finding out what's selling and how to position yourself against it, and how to get out there and meet the people in the business so that you're not just another ms in the slush pile.
It also helps my confidence that Cor is really enthusiastic about my current project. She's pretty honest about what doesn't work for her, so her confidence in it helps a lot when mine wavers.
Now all I want is to finish writing the damn thing, because nobody is interested in partial manuscripts from unpublished people.
In other news, the damn air conditioner is on the fritz again. *sigh* And some dingbat on SFSignal.com suggested I was a right-wing religious homophobe because I objected to his off-topic rants about how anybody who belongs to a religion that believes homosexuality is a sin is a barbarian not fit to be spoken to. Which I find pretty funny, because I've voted democrat more often than republican, I support Obama, I don't believe in any organized religion (as much as I wish I could, actually), I have a personalized autographed poster of the Indigo Girls on my classroom wall, and, when deciding whom to support way back at the beginning of the primary season, and making a spreadsheet of all the candidates' stances relative to my own, I listed LGBT issues, and specifically the freedom to enter into same-sex marriages, as my number two issue. But I didn't tell this guy any of this, even though he asked me my views, because my whole point was that this had nothing in the world to do with whether or not YA SF is too graphic these days. But damn, it's hard to walk away and let an asshole have the last word. It's a lesson I need to learn, though, because the thing about assholes is that they will always have the last word . . . because assholes never. shut. up.
Huh. That's pretty much the first cursing on this blog. I guess I needed to get that off of my chest. This is also my bloggiest post so far, I think. Luckily, though, In just a day it will be buried under the "March" tag, and not staring out at people from the front page. :)
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