That Weird Afterglow

Two days ago, I celebrated twice. Friday was both my wedding anniversary and the day I finished the first draft of my untitled sequel to The Brevity of Roses. We celebrated the first occasion with a movie (not good) and a dinner (excellent). I celebrated the second with a huge sigh of relief because I took so dagnabit long to write that draft.

Yesterday morning, I went to my computer to check email, blogs, Facebook, etc., and then that weird afterglow hit me. Yay, I finished the book! Darn, I have nothing to write today.

Instead, I did laundry and made liquid hand soap. Then I started clearing the clutter I’d let collect around me for months. Today, I’ll continue working around the house to keep my mind off the lost feeling that comes from not writing. All the while, I’ll try to avoid conscious thought about the book.

In a few days, I’ll sit back down and open that file again.  I’ll start at the beginning, reading one chapter at a time. This will be a light edit—first I’ll deal with the comments I left myself during writing. Then, I’ll fix typos and punctuation errors, clarify meaning, and correct any inconsistencies that no doubt occurred because I worked on this a full year, and it’s risky to rely on my memory.

The next step will be to send it to my alpha reader, who is an excellent writer and strong in the areas I’m not. After I get my alpha’s notes, I’ll revise and follow that with a deeper edit. Then, I’ll put my little baby in the hands of a few beta readers. (If you volunteered, please remind me.)

I’ll have much more work to do in the coming weeks, but I’m trying hard not to get stressed about that. I’ve done all this before, so I know I’m capable.  I’d like to work on the cover in my breaks from editing, but I need a title first. I might already have one. Might. Just in case not—I’m still listening, Muse.

Well, that’s the state of my writing affairs. May whatever state you’re in be a great one.


Image courtesy of Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

AWAKE, but not writing

Well, I missed a blogging day, but for once, when I had nothing worth saying I didn’t say anything. I also didn’t get much house cleaning done. I did some laundry, repotted a few plants, worked on the sprinkler system in the yard, and organized some craft supplies. I also started reading a NY Times best-selling novel, but the subpar writing and editing makes me question whether I should continue.

What I’d hoped would happen during my writing break hasn’t. Not really. What did occur to me, at one point while my hands were covered in soil, is once again I’ve fallen into the trap of worrying about what others will think of the story in my next novel. Is that why I’m stalled?

I said at the beginning that I wanted to write this novel without any outside input, so I wouldn’t submit chapters to any critique group until they were all written, but it seems I’m critiquing it myself. I’m censoring before I’ve even written it. If only I could write without knowing what I’m writing. *sigh*

Speaking of writing, as I usually am, there’s some good writing on the new NBC series Awake. I’ve blogged before about some of my favorite well-written shows like Treme and Mad Men. This new one promises to be another. The premise of reality vs. dream intrigues me; in fact, I touched on it in a short story I wrote last summer.

Police detective Michael Britten, played by Jason Isaacs, has returned to work after an auto accident with his wife and teen-aged son. The problem is each day he wakes up in one of two “realities”. In one, his son died in the crash, Britten is in department-ordered therapy with a male psychiatrist, and he has a rookie partner at work. In the other, his wife has died, he has a female therapist, and his long-time partner at work.

A further confusion happens when clues from a case in one reality helps him solve his case in the other. Each therapist tells him he’s confusing dream and reality because he hasn’t coped with his loss. Britten doesn’t want their help because he doesn’t want to lose either of his “realities”.

I’m anxious to see how this plays out. When the end credits rolled on the first episode, I said, “Wow!” My husband said, “It was okay.” That’s typical for us. 🙂 Then again, he’s not a writer. If you’re not watching the show, but think it sounds interesting, you can watch full episodes online here: http://www.nbc.com/awake/


Awake promo photo ©NBC

Eventually, it always comes back to writing

So, yeah. I’ve been writing. As soon as I finished the first draft of one story, I started another. Now, scenes from my next novel are playing in my head. It’s a bit distracting, but I’m not going to drop everything and open that novel file yet. These little previews are just the Muse letting me know she’s working on it.

So, yeah. I’ve been writing. As soon as I finished the first draft of one story, I started another. Now, scenes from my next novel are playing in my head. It’s a bit distracting, but I’m not going to drop everything and open that novel file yet. These little previews are just the Muse letting me know she’s working on it.

Still, it’s hard to be patient with the story collection project, when I have a novel waiting. I have a couple more stories to write, and then, as I get feedback on the lot, it will be editing time. Recently, I received valuable feedback from someone I’ve never worked with before. She wrote seventeen comments on a story of less than seven hundred words! I had to laugh because that’s the way I critique. I think we might work well together. 😉

In other news: Has the weather this season been unusual where you live? We’ve been dry most of our rainy season, but finally got a good drench a couple of nights ago and then again last night. It’s been so warm and sunny, my peach and nectarine trees were set to bloom, and now the rain has brought a chill back to the air. Has anyone checked the earth’s tilt lately? I know my equilibrium’s off.

You all probably know that Adele won six Grammies Sunday night. Well deserved, in my opinion. I saw a link to an analysis of why her song “Someone Like You” is such a tearjerker. Though the song doesn’t quite make me cry, I do get chills at moments when I listen to it, so this analysis sounded reasonable to me. Now, if only I can figure out how to apply that “appoggiaturaa” thing to writing highly emotional scenes.

And there you go, I’ve brought the subject back around to writing again, so I think I’ll go do that. You go do something you love to do too.

Whence cometh thy critique?

In the last few days, I started three different blog posts and finished nary a one. Obviously, I’m out of touch with my brain right now. I spent two afternoons working in the garden, so it could be an allergy effect. In any case, I have nothing particularly witty or profound to say at the moment. (But I do sometimes, don’t I?)

In the last few days, I started three different blog posts and finished nary a one. Obviously, I’m out of touch with my brain right now. I spent two afternoons working in the garden, so it could be an allergy effect. In any case, I have nothing particularly witty or profound to say at the moment. (But I do sometimes, don’t I?)

I am working on both a novel and some short stories. Oooh, I just thought of how Demetri Martin writes with both hands at the same time. Wouldn’t it be cool if I could type on two keyboards simultaneously—one for the short story and the other for the novel chapter? I could be as prolific as Joyce Carol Oates. Not as good a writer, of course, but equally prolific. (Forgive me, I’m writing this with a headache.)

ANYWAY, I’ve been wondering how I’ll get critique on my works-in-progress. I no longer have access to a live critique group, and I’ve never been able to work up enthusiasm for joining online groups where I know no one—or more importantly—know nothing about anyone’s writing skills.

That led me to wondering how you all get feedback on your work. Do you seek it from one, a few, or many? Do you prefer live groups or virtual? Have those preferences changed over time? If you’re in a group, how does yours work? Specifically: How often do you meet? Do you read aloud? Do you receive the work ahead of time and critique at home, so you only discuss it at the meeting? How many members do you think is optimum? Do you critique all lengths of work?

What say ye?

Image © Drawing Hands by M. C. Escher, 1948

A dialogue with my inner critic

We all have inner critics. Some manage them better than others do. All too often, I tremble under the tyranny of mine. She’s not cute and harmless. Not at all. Think She Devil, like this:

We all have inner critics. Some manage them better than others do. All too often, I tremble under the tyranny of mine. She’s not cute and harmless. Not at all. Think She Devil, like this:

I’ll give you an example of how she works. A writer friend emailed me the other day to ask if I’d considered offering editing services to increase my income. She said, “Your writing is so precise and careful.” and indicated she felt I could be of benefit to other writers. All well and good, right?

The next day, while doing some mind-numbing work, I thought about the email again. Suddenly, my inner critic offered a different interpretation.

Inner Critic: Precise and careful, huh?

Me: Yeah, so?

Inner Critic: Sounds to me like she thinks your writing is a bore.

Me: No … I don’t think so.

Inner Critic: Textbooks are precise and careful.

Me: But … I’m pretty sure she meant that as a compliment.

Inner Critic: Ha!

Me: What did she mean, then?

Inner Critic: There’s an old saying: Those who can, write; those who can’t, edit.

In typical She Devil fashion, she poofed away, her cackle echoing in her wake, leaving me to question my worth as a writer … or an editor. She’s pure evil, is my inner critic. Next time she pops in, I’ll slap her with a wet fish.