Category Archives: hurricane sandy

Putting the Pedal to the Metal

I haven’t written about the book much lately. I guess it’s kind of been playing second fiddle to everything else that’s been going on around here.

I’ll admit it: I was floundering. I felt like I was not coming up with anything good and I was getting royally stuck. I’d gotten probably about 25% finished and pretty much stalled out. Adding to the problem (mostly mental) was that I hadn’t gotten an “official” stamp of approval from my editor to say that she had liked some pages I had sent her a couple months ago, so I was nervous that when we finally did talk, she’d want me to go back and redo it again. This is mostly due to the fact that between the manuscript that my agency picked me up on and the book I am working on now, everything has changed. Everything. Person, tense, characterization, plot. I’m not just writing a new book, I’m writing new characters too, and that change felt kind of foreign to me at first because I’d spent so long writing my main character a certain way and now I’m changing that. (And for the record I’m glad for that, the characters have all evolved out of what I had and what my editor suggested for me and I really think they’re more three-dimensional now.)

Luckily, I was wrong on that front, and when I spoke to her yesterday, she did like the direction I was going in. We finally laid out a plan of action concerning how the rest of the year is going, and she wants me to try to have a first draft done by November before the baby comes. That will leave only editing and revisions after the baby comes, which–though I will really have to push to find the time–is doable. It has to be. But I figure, this is going to be my job, and I’m lucky enough to not have to go back to my day job after the baby comes, which frees me up to work on this even if it’s just an hour a day. It will get done. A first draft completed this year also means potential publication by next year–so that’s exciting. Considering I was signed by this agency last October and then had such a long pause due to Hurricane Sandy, it really feels good to finally have a potential end date on this project floating around. 

The other benefit to having an editor is they seem to magically know exactly where you needed to go when you were totally stuck. Some of the suggestions she gave me yesterday really left me going “oh jeez, why didn’t I think of that in the first place?” She gave me tons to think about as far as characterization and side plots go, which is something I was really struggling with. Formulating a novel is harder than you might think. It isn’t just–this is my plot and these are points A, B, C, and D. There’s so many side points and arcs and other bits of meat that fill in the skeleton. So I’m still working on that but I have a feeling a lot of it will come as I’m finishing up the first draft. That’s how it’s worked in the past anyway, when I was working on my own schedule. 

So now comes the part where I wade through all the ideas, stick to a few, and really put my nose to the grindstone. I’m filled at once with some really exciting ideas and a looming sense of dread and self-doubt about the whole thing (can I really finish this novel in 3 months??)…but that must mean I’m a writer. 

Back on the Book Wagon

Well, after a very long and occasionally torturous wait to hear back from my agents in New York (if you are a new reader, I was signed by my agent just a week or two before Hurricane Sandy hit, and I’ve been waiting for them to recover before we could begin work on editing), I’m back on the trail again. I had a call with my editor a week ago and we brainstormed on some character development stuff, and she set me to my first editing task: word cuts.

Ah yes, the words every author dreads: “Your word count is a little too high.” Damn! A lot high, as my case turns out. I was at a starting wordcount of just over 113,000, and my editor asked me to trim it to right around 80,000 so that we would have room to put in character development and plot points later. Needless to say I looked at that goal with a lot of trepidation. Where on earth was I going to find 33,000 words to remove? Isn’t all of it important?

My first step, I decided, was to have a hard copy of the manuscript printed so that I could go through it with a pen and physically see what I was cutting out. I sent it off to Kinkos to have it printed and bound (a cost I was willing to pony up for because I don’t have a printer at the moment), and within a couple hours had this monster of a manuscript in front of me. Luckily, it’s the middle of the slow season here at work, which meant I pretty much had about 6 free hours a day to work on it at my desk, which was enormously helpful.

Starbucks helped a lot too.

I finished the first round of cuts last night and immediately got to work putting it in the computer. My editor wants it formatted a certain way so that she can see what I’ve removed and put in and changed, so once I figured out how to do that, it was off to the races. This part is actually taking less time than I thought it would, although I don’t have the ability to work on that while I’m at work, which is something of a bummer and may end up taking me more time to do just because I’ll have to do it in the evenings after rehearsals.

Cats are distracting too.

I’m supposed to have it all done by Tuesday morning to send off to my editor so that we can talk about it on Wednesday, but I’m hoping with any luck I’ll have it done before then. I have Monday off from work for President’s Day, so if I get desperate I do have almost an entire day to plow my way through. I decided not to look at the word count until I was all done putting it into the computer, a moment that is going to be at once exciting and terrifying, because I honestly have no idea what to expect. Did I not cut enough? Too much? What will I do when I get there and realize I still have 20,000 words to get rid of? Where am I going to find THOSE words? I really did try to be critical of my cuts and didn’t save stuff just to be sentimental. I tried as best I could to just cut anything and everything that was absolutely unnecessary. I guess it’s just something I’ll have to deal with when I get there. Fingers are crossed that I did okay the first time.

In the interest of not getting burnt out on all this editing, since I know I still have a very long road to go, I’m taking ample time to do other things and get a break. Tomorrow Cam and I are going down to Boulder to have our late Valentine’s Day dinner. While we’re down there we’re going to do a little shopping (I need some retail therapy this week as it seems like ALL of my clothes have shrunk) and pick up some stuff at Home Depot. I’m planning this weekend to get rid of the bookshelves in my office and install floating wall shelves instead. Bookshelves are hard to work with because we have floor heating registers and furniture is never able to sit flush against the wall, a problem when you have something top-heavy that cats like to jump into and sit in. So I figure the shelves will not only look nicer but they’ll be safer too. Hoping that goes okay.

Anyway, I’ll keep you posted on how this first round of edits goes and with any luck I’ll be close to my word goal by the time I finish it up.

Till then!

The Holding Pattern

It appears to be snowing on my WordPress dashboard. Well, at least it is snowing somewhere in Colorado even if it is a virtual snow.

On the fire front, some good news. According to the Estes Park News, the fire line was held exceptionally well last night even though we had wind gusts of up to 70mph. No new evacuation notices were posted. Of yet only one structure, a private cabin, has been destroyed and it was within the Park. The temperatures are a little cooler today and hopefully the winds will die down a little so that they can get some air support in there. Right now what we really need is the universe to cooperate and send us some moisture and lower temperatures. Everyone I know is coming up with “snow dance” remedies. A friend posted this morning something about a Pilgrim tradition of putting a spoon under one’s pillow. I’m a huge believer in the power of intention so hey, if it helps I will try it.

Let’s see, what else. I am still, unfortunately, waiting to hear from my agents. It is absolute torture as I believe I’ve mentioned before. The worst is not having any idea of a timeline for as far as when they might get back online. I am hesitant to contact them again because I don’t want to risk trying their patience if I am constantly contacting them asking how it’s going. I don’t want to be that annoying new client. I know, no matter what they say, that I and just about every other author they work with have to be very low on their list of priorities right now. And rightfully so. If I ran a business that was flooded and damaged during the storm I wouldn’t want to talk to any of my clients. So I get it. But being on the other end of that equation sucks. I would love to use this time to my advantage to get some writing done, perhaps work on the sequel or my other project, but as I was discussing with a professor last week, the agents and publishing company might want to go a completely different direction with the storyline and everything I have already written will be for nothing. So it’s a Catch-22. So, whether it’s psychological or not, I’ve worked myself into a terrible writing funk and basically haven’t done anything in a while. It is, needless to say, incredibly frustrating.

I am struggling right now to not think of my life as being in a holding pattern, waiting for my turn to get in the air and fly. Just about everything feels like a waiting game right now. Waiting to start working on the book, waiting to get pregnant, waiting for our trip to Hawaii, waiting for…something. I know it’s a lousy problem to have–there are much worse things that could be going on right now–but it’s an increasingly frustrating mindset. It’s hard to not have any goals that you are not actively working toward, you know? I have always been motivated by goals. I work hard on something because I know in the end it is going to feel good and if I know what that concrete goal is, it’s easier to get there. (I think this is part of the reason why I can never stick very easily to a fitness routine, because I am not able to “see” those goals.) My job is basically a filler for us right now to get money in the bank so that when I have a baby I will be able to quit working and just be a stay at home mom. I look forward to this every. single. day. But in the meantime, it’s just a clock-in-clock-out type situation. No particular career goals, no knowing “if I get this sales goal I’ll be promoted”, nothing like that. And that’s frustrating. It would be easier to cope with it if I had something going on in my home life that was making up for that lack of progress, (i.e. coming home and working on the book) but right now it’s just not happening. So in the meantime I just have to hope every single day that I’m going to open up my email and see that the editors are ready to go back to work. Like I said–I believe in the power of intention. I am so full of intention that I’ll probably explode if it doesn’t end up somewhere tangible soon.

Anyway, enough of that rant. Here’s a picture of my cat.

Disgruntled that my new Mac is cooler than he is
Disgruntled that my new Mac is cooler than he is

Till then.