Rewrites of my Graphic Novel are Complete

So, just in time to begin the new position at work, I’ve completed the rewrites of my graphic novel. Now I’m passing it off to my husband, who will be doing the art for it, and he will read through it and probably make suggestions for what will work better visually. Then we’ll begin picking away at it until we have enough pages done to decide how we’re going to release it to the world, still several years away most likely.

It feels good. Nothing ever comes as fast as I want it to, but when it does finally happen, it feels really good.

Overthinking the First Draft

Oh look, a writing post for the first time in eons. Isn’t this a surprise?

Well, my draft for my graphic novel is crawling along, and I’m finally approaching the final climax. I skipped ahead today to write out an epilogue I’ve been going back and forth on in my head. It is kind of a “what a twist” ending, which I’m not really sure that I want, and it takes the story down a much more cynical and dark path than it was on, and it was already fairly dark to begin with.

Aside from only having, when I’m lucky, about 30 minutes a day to write fiction or poetry, I also have a tendency to have to force myself to step back from the story and just let things come out. But it’s difficult for me. It’s not that I’m self-editing myself but that my brain is truly crafting sentences and phrases as they come. I can’t just “get it down and fix it later”. Which slows my productivity, but it gives me a first draft that is probably like some authors’ fourth or fifth, as far as edits and typos go. So maybe it balances out? I don’t know.

Again, it’s one of those situations where I think each writer has to find what works best for them. As long as you are moving forward in some way, even if it feels like crawling, eventually you will have a finished manuscript. And maybe it needs only two rounds of editing before publishing and maybe it needs twenty. And maybe you finished it in a month or maybe it takes you ten years. The important thing is that you have something to say, and eventually you say it in the best way that you can.

But then again, I’m probably overthinking all of that, too.

Editing, editing, editing…

My proof came in!  I was so excited to see The Little Book of Insurrection… as a hard copy.  But I had so many typos on it, including a huge one on the front cover!  That’s why we get proofs, I guess.

I was more concerned with making sure all the pages were numbered correctly, the illustrations were lined up and set where I wanted them to be, and the table of contents matched the rest of the book that I forgot to double check the verbiage of the poems themselves, even though I retyped them rather than copy and pasted them.  So there are several words where I dropped a letter or two from the end.  I also questioned a couple of word choices and may switch to a different word, but I need to decide definitively what image I’m trying to create.  And finally, I’m tweaking some of the punctuation that I’ve included in the poems.  So much of reading a poem is actually taking it in visually too, so I’m actually considering how it looks on the page as part of the formatting and editing.

I’ve made all my edits (after going through several times) in the proof itself, and now I’m letting them simmer for a couple of days.  Tomorrow I’ll go through and correct the digital files and move forward from there.  Exciting times!

Second round of editing/rewrites is done!

I finished the second round of rewrites.  Still no closer to a title, but hopefully a brilliant idea will strike soon. 

I’ve got a commission to do over the next couple of days, and then I will be focusing on the illustrations for my poetry collection while my husband is taking another pass at the novella, so expect some art updates in the next weeks. 


Progress on my Novella-in-progress

My husband read my manuscript, and we had a long discussion about it during our holiday travels.  He confirmed a couple of things my beta reader had picked up on and then expanded on those ideas.  He asked me questions, some of which I need to come up with the answers to still, and after thinking about our conversation and going over his notes, I have a rough idea of what I want to do for this story.

Firstly, I’m keeping it in the tense that it’s currently in, and I will be attempting to lift the remainder of the story to the level of polish and style that is in the first chapter.  Secondly, elements that I introduce in the first chapter will need to be reintroduced throughout the story.  I spend a lot of time building up my female protagonist and then don’t really touch it during the action of the story.  Thirdly, I need to uncover the magic and personality in one of my supporting characters.  Right now, he’s a guardian/protector for a group of other magical creatures, but beyond that role of guardian, I don’t really know who he is or what he was in the past.

We are going on a writers’ retreat this weekend (with my son, so my husband and I will be tag-teaming and maybe relying on DVDs/Netflix a little to get work done), and my hope is to completely finish the next draft by the end of the weekend.  We’ll have to see how it goes.

A Writerly Update

First – my as-yet-untitled-novella progress.  My husband (thankfully!) recently got swamped in freelance web/art work so was unfortunately not available to be my first reader, but my dear friend (and awesome writer) Madeline Claire Franklin agreed to step in.  She is an amazing editor and plans to soon start taking on clients again after a self-imposed hiatus, so check out her website and her work!  She paid me the compliment of saying that she had planned to read my novella in a few sittings but instead sat down and read it from start to finish.  Her brief impressions gave me two major decisions that I need to make.

1) Tense – as a challenge to myself, I wrote the story in third person present when I normally do third person past, and it works really well for the beginning of the story but less strongly as the story goes on.  Not that I messed up the tense, but as I got caught up in the action, the tense stops working so well.  The question then is do I bring the rest of the story up to the level of the first chapter, or do I switch it all to my own comfort level of third person past?  While I started out writing present only as a challenge to myself, I feel like it adds a nice sense of urgency to the story.

2) The main character doesn’t have a definitive goal or dream that she is working towards.  She is stuck in a rut, living a life that doesn’t make her happy and then gets sucked into this fantastic journey.  At the end, she expects to feel something HUGE has happened but is disappointed that more hasn’t changed, but the whole point is that now she has gained the strength and conviction to go out and live her life as her own person.  Is that enough motivation?  Madeline felt that it could serve the story better to give her a bigger motivator.  So I have to think about that.

Knowing that I’m kind of hemming and hawing on these two points, my husband is going to try to squeeze in a read of the manuscript so he knows what I’m talking about as I try to bounce ideas off of him.

In the meantime, I’m continuing to work on my next big project, which is a graphic novel (potentially webcomic) that my husband will do the art for.  I am almost done with the first section of story.  This is an incredibly rich world I am creating, and it’s a project that is still a year or two down the road so I’m not ready to reveal any more details on it.

I also went back and read through my second unfinished novel, which I haven’t touched in years.  (My first unfinished novel was started when I was 11 or 12 and sitting in a box somewhere.  Maybe someday I’ll reread that as well!)  It is still salvageable.   While it is definitely a little more simply written (I started it ten years ago!) than my current style, the characters and plot and world are still interesting to me. I need to decide if I want to add a B story to the A storyline or keep the focus on the one main character.  I love when novels artfully move between characters (Sharon Kay Penman is an author that comes to mind that does this amazingly) but I am not sure I have the skill yet to attempt this.  And in this world, I don’t know who else I would add.  This novel is potentially the first of a trilogy with a probable prequel but could also stand alone if I decide I don’t wan to do a trilogy.  I want to get the graphic novel written and over to my husband to start the art on before I revisit this novel, so we’re looking at another year or two until it’s ready to be released.

I also went back and re-read some ANCIENT writing – short stories I wrote in high school.  It was cracking me up to read how preachy and opinionated I was as a teenager, but my dialogue has always been decent.  My ninth grade English teacher read some of my short stories and was very encouraging, even though everybody always ended up dying in some horrible way.

Other than that, I’ve been ruminating on some short story ideas to begin after the release of my novella and poetry collection as I work on the graphic novel and then novel.  It still feels like I’m crawling along, but work is getting done, and it feels great.

Cue the Insecurity

First round of edits on my as-yet untitled novella are finished!  On the one hand, I feel very happy with my story, and I am excited to pass it on to my husband for the next round of edits.  And on the other hand, I am fighting the typical post-creative process of wanting to rip it up in a million pieces and never show anyone.  Opening myself up and being vulnerable is exactly what I need to do in order to share my work with the world, but I’ve got my inner critic working in full force now telling me that my work isn’t worth sharing.

Hence where my husband comes in next with the process.  We are so brutally honest with each other (and let me tell you, that can get uncomfortable) that if he thinks this story isn’t ready yet, he will tell me.  I’ve done the same for him in the past.  We try to be as kind and loving about it as possible, and we know that bottom line, the decision rests upon us as individual artists, but we push each other to be better.  And for that, I am eternally grateful to him.  But even so, even though he holds a piece of my soul in his heart and I trust my husband as I trust myself, my inner critic is trying to manipulate me into not going on to this next stage.  Yet I do so.  Humbly, cautiously, I am moving forward.

The creative person walks a fine line of being confident and being crippled by doubt.  I personally feel like I have stories to tell, songs to sing, and art to make.  I’ve got a lot of raw talent, but my perfectionist inclinations are what my inner critic preys upon, that my talent may never be honed to “expert” levels.  But I move forward anyway, because I refuse to be a prisoner to my own perfectionism.  Because no level of achievement will ever make me a “success” in my own eyes, so I may as well put my work out anyway.

Next step, going over the edits my husband suggests, finally deciding on a title, and tentatively working on a cover.  Then a couple of more edits, giving it off to a copy editor, and my little novella will be ready for the world.  I’m getting closer.

Rough draft is finished!

The rough draft for my still untitled novella is finally finished!  Tonight begins the round of excruciating edits and rewrites.  Usually the editing process goes very fast for me, but in this case, I’m thinking it will take a little longer.  Due to the choppy, piecemeal way I was forced to write this story, it needs a lot of work.  Paragraphs need to be added where there is only a single line or two, and vice versa.  The hope is that a title will brilliantly come to me during this process, but that remains to be seen.  I’d like to believe that I can do this stage of edits by the end of this week, but with Halloween costume making and being in the midst of night-weaning, I’m thinking it will be more like two weeks.  Then my husband (a fellow writer) takes a pass at it before coming back to me, then I send it out to an editor, then back to me, then maybe one more round to my husband before a final look through by me.

I get to start dreaming of book covers now, and I need to get my checklists for publishing done.  Yay progress!