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Where the hell have I been?

[personal profile] lycomingst pinged me yesterday to inquire after my continued existence--very kind!--and caused me to face the ridiculously wide gap in my posting history around here.

I continue to exist. My long absence is the result of a constellation of non-catastrophic things: diligent, daily writing on Novel A and Novel B; guilt over the unfaceable backlog of friendslist reading; and that ever more encroaching bugaboo of multiple social platforms (Twitter, mostly--it's quick).

Also: a dying computer and a comedy of errors in getting it replaced, and some obsessively self-soothing SPN rewatching.

Novel A is Restraint 2.0: The Non-Fanfic Version. My first comprehensive revision didn't meet with pro-editor favor, and the computer-replacement fiasco ate up the funds for further paid editorial help. But both paid-for and free comments I've solicited agree that significant restructuring is necessary if Baby is to be marketable. It's emotionally and intellectually hard work. But I'm doing it.

Novel B is nothing but research (I'm reading a fascinating new biography of Aleister Crowley) and character sketches so far.

The setting is roughly 1910; maybe Glasgow, maybe Southern California, probably both. It's about a Golden-Dawn-like secret society, belief in magic, actual magic, lost-wax casting, mind-rape, actual asexuality, steamship travel, hypnotism, the Arts and Crafts movement, architecture...

...well, as you can see, it's still pretty loosely defined. The central working idea is to take one character's statement, "I no longer believe that the magic ever happened," and let the story change that character's mind. The main character is a silversmith called Eleanora Burne, and she's making me cry. Mostly because she's me. You know. Kind of a Eusyram. (Eventually I'll file that off, too.)

So, yes. Still existing. Chipping away at this thing called life. How's everyone doing?

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 30th, 2014 08:09 pm (UTC)
I just thought of you a minute ago! Because the Lucky magazine online newsletter includes a pair of black patent flat-heeled oxfords that I thought you'd like.

Jersey City has marked off its first official bike paths and is thinking about doing bike rentals.
Jul. 30th, 2014 09:14 pm (UTC)
Well, go, Jersey City! That's fantastic news.

The shoes sound perfect. I miss having reasons to wear nice things--though I don't miss the aggro that comes with the reasons).

I want you to know that I'm typing this on my new computer with the non-functioning key between the a and the d. And I'm copy-pasting every s. I'd be on the former and much-loved Dell laptop, but moments ago it began advising me to replace the compression coil or die. Not-uite perfect timing (the key between Tab and W is also dead).

Flexing muscles, rolling up sleeves, brandishing the Torx screwdriver. Goin' in...
Jul. 30th, 2014 09:19 pm (UTC)
Sounds like Your Number One Fan is lurking nearby with a sledgehammer (book version) or axe (movie).

Err, do you have a port you can plug a separate keyboard into? I'm a desktop kinda gal, and really need to use ergonomic keyboards, and have connected an ergo keyboard to a laptop.
Jul. 30th, 2014 09:48 pm (UTC)
Heh. My only Annie Wilkes is this on-the-verge-of-death computer (which has restarted, but its demise is very imminent--like, probably minutes away). Thank goodness for this modern miracle of the Cloud, where all my stuff is.

Your external keyboard idea is GENIUS. I've got a couple of portables that might at least get me through. I prefer to work in actual laptop mode, but I could be persuaded to use my standing workstation. Thank you! Great suggestion.
Jul. 30th, 2014 09:57 pm (UTC)
Followup: so far so good. Old computer still not dead, have managed to shop for and order a full sized USB keyboard and mouse for about $20 total. Even if I can easily fix the wibbly-wobbly keyboard connection in my new laptop, I think I might really enjoy getting back to a desktop configuration, at least some of the time.

Again, fantastic suggestion! Thank you. It honestly had not crossed my mind.
Jul. 30th, 2014 10:26 pm (UTC)
I hardly ever carry a computer anywhere, but at various times I've just plugged a keyboard (and sometimes a monitor) into something that would be a laptop if I ever moved it off the desk.

My Win7 computer is obviously a bit spavined, and I hate the mere though of Win8, Win8.whatzis etc, so I bought a reconditioned Win7 laptop for $80 (from a neighbor, so I can drop over and make him feel very, very unhappy if necessary) which I am keeping on deck. Sort of like a movie studio hiring a starlet with a conspicuous resemblance to a star whose contract was close to renewal.
Jul. 30th, 2014 10:41 pm (UTC)
Super deal! It's good to have some cheap redundancy in this system upon which we increasingly depend.

I've had good luck with used/refurbished computers, and this new one is no exception. It was "open box" (floor model? quick return?) and therefore about 30% off the new price while really not having been used at all.

The only advantage I can see in any Windows version over the Linux I've been running for five years is that all the streaming video services limit or exclude Linux users. Apart from bootlegging, that's how I get all my fannish entertainment. I found a five-dollar app that will let you put a Windows 7-like interface on top of 8.1. I'll probably try it.
Jul. 31st, 2014 12:27 am (UTC)
It's the cyber-equivalent of the touring show's rehearsal to take out the improvements.
Jul. 31st, 2014 12:45 am (UTC)
Jul. 30th, 2014 08:45 pm (UTC)
O HAI! Doing well here, and very admiring of your seriousness about pro-novel. Do you need to pay editors? There are people here who'd be just as good for the sake of reading your stuff first!
Jul. 30th, 2014 09:44 pm (UTC)
O HAI your ownself! Glad all is well--I gather as much from your active Twitter life. (Much though I do love Twitter, it's not really a social platform, is it?)

I was strongly advised to go for professional editing, though I've since learned that lots of pro authors use critique partners prior to submission (and publishing-house editors after acceptance). I think I had some idea of greater expense = greater value, and it's probably true, but my manuscript wasn't really ready for a pro. Now I know. (One thing I learned for my money is that the gulf between fanfic and a pro novel is considerably wider than I thought.)

I am indeed lucky to know some fine writers here in my online community who can give (and have already given) very valuable feedback on Restraint, some of it highly targeted and all of it constructive. And the beauty of it is, I can "pay" by reciprocating, which helps me hone my own writing.
Aug. 7th, 2014 10:09 pm (UTC)
Twitter is such a different animal. My editors love it when I have retweets for the stories they run; and I got some commissions out of it. When you reach 4,000 or 5,000 followers, colleagues & eds see you as someone with social media clout, which needless to say is A Good Thing. In so many ways it couldn't be more different from LJ...

I'm fascinated to know what your pro editor said on bringing Restraint up to publishable standards. I realise there's a big gap from fanfic to pro fic, because you can't rely on the characters being established for you in the minds of the readers:0; but all the same, I've never watched Supernatural or its stars, and the book worked for me.
Aug. 8th, 2014 07:15 am (UTC)
I would imagine that 4000 or 5000 followers would put you in the upper echelon of Twitter users. That's a lot of influence!

My pro editor hinted that Restraint has a lot of fanfic indulgences--long passages of the two characters essentially just gazing at and admiring each other (a reflection of the way fans gaze at the characters/actors). A little of that goes a long way in non-fandom storytelling. The explicit sex scenes could be a problem in pitching the novel to an agent, too.

Mostly, though, it's a question of pacing. As serially-posted fanfic, it had very forgiving readers who were eager for the next chapter. They were willing to overlook the slow/boring/flabby bits, and didn't mind that it ran to 900 pages. That won't work in New York. So I'm thinking of making it into a trilogy. Not sure I can pull it off, but it would be cool if I could. Just started outlining the three volumes today!
Jul. 31st, 2014 09:34 am (UTC)
Pleased to see a post from you, and to hear about your writing! I discovered "Restraint" very late (had to put that in quotation marks or else it sounded like the confession of a personality defect). Consequently, I don't think I realised it was fanfic: which fandom was it?

Good luck with Novel B too.
Jul. 31st, 2014 08:51 pm (UTC)
LOL! Good point about putting it in quotes. Without quotes, I'm not sure I've discovered it yet!

Restraint as published on the AO3 falls broadly into the Real Person Fic section of the Supernatural fandom, but it's so AU that when I first posted it (the AO3 was very new), some people argued that it didn't belong there because it wasn't fanfiction at all.

Basically, it's an original novel whose two main characters look exactly like Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles in neckcloths and buckskin breeches, and share a handful of their publicly-known personality traits. Their names are similar, but period-ized (Jensen Ackles becomes John Acklebury, and Jared Tristan Padalecki becomes Tristan Jarrett, with the P retained in his Penrith title); a couple of their famous friends make appearances as secondary characters--whose names I also period-ized. There were some little fandom in-jokes, notably John's father being a Dean of Winchester Cathedral...

Well, you'd think filing those things off would be simple, but it all got so embedded in the story that it was more like a surgical extraction than a simple global search-and-replace on names.

But it was doable, and I did it. They're still John and Tristan (I just couldn't bring myself to change their first names!), but all the clear fandom references are gone. The trouble identified by the pro editor is subtler than that, and has to do with the kind of gorgeous indulgence we love in fanfic: long sections of one character basically gazing at the other the way we, as fans, gaze at them. It's been an interesting and challenging effort to force myself to think in "real novel" terms, and frankly, I'm not yet 100% convinced that I should.

Heh. Sorry. Long answer to a simple question. Thinking in type here. Thanks for "listening."
Jul. 31st, 2014 09:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you for that explanation, which was exactly the right length! I've always imagined that the most difficult part of de-fanfictioning something would be the need to flesh out the characters and to describe them and their likes and dislikes etc., because of course all that is already assumed.
Jul. 31st, 2014 09:52 pm (UTC)
It would be a problem in canon-based fanfic, because of course half the fun of fic is just jumping in with known characters in an established universe and getting straight to the sex story. :D
Jul. 31st, 2014 10:59 am (UTC)
Hello; so glad to hear all is well. I bought and read The War of Art, and am so glad that it's helping you be productive with your writing. Yesterday I wrestled with the "this is too hard so I'll just check email 25 times and then read some fanfic" problem as I tried to write a job application letter; this morning I need to do the "treat it as a job" plan.

I took a book editing course this July at Simon Fraser in Vancouver and learned about how extensively some editors shape and alter books. We worked on a MS that had started out at 800 pages and ended up at 300, plus our teacher/pro editor had gotten the author to zone in on the middle part of the story, a year on an island, and then to arrange it as month by month,....I found structural editing to be very exciting, because one is really helping to shape a book, but it was surprising to me, too, since I hold authors in high esteem and would have hesitated before this to cut and chop.

I'm glad you had a professional editor look at your MS and give you some feedback!
Jul. 31st, 2014 09:02 pm (UTC)
Wow, that course sounds wonderful! (Also, summer in Vancouver: yay!)

Cutting-and-chopping is a huge issue, for me and for every other long-winded writer. Not only is it very hard for the writer to see what can/should be cut, but there's a fine line there somewhere, where "better storytelling" moves into "cheaper printing." I've been told several times that Restraint is too long, but mostly as an instant reaction to its word count before the person has read it.

It is, indeed, indulgently long and I'm very willing to cut it, but at its heart it's just an epic romance, and cutting it to the bare bones of some A plot, while possibly making it salable as a print book, would turn it into an entirely different novel, one that I'm not much interested in writing.

However, one great suggestion the pro editor made was to consider cutting it into two or three volumes and making a series of it. I'm mulling that one over. Would love your now highly-trained thoughts!

(Also, if you're setting up in the editing business, keep me in mind. After this re-revision is done, I will probably be looking for an editor again.)

Edited at 2014-07-31 09:03 pm (UTC)
Aug. 1st, 2014 02:07 pm (UTC)
I agree that "better writing" sometimes is actually "cheaper printing." A good way to put it! After the course, it is no surprise to me that so many books coming out now are between 200 and 300 pages.

I would be happy to read your MS once you've finished your edit, and work on it with you. I would be willing to do it for a lower rate because I'm in the process of learning my craft as a literary editor.

Aug. 1st, 2014 06:49 pm (UTC)
It's not hard to understand why print publishers are leery of handling long novels from untried authors, but what used to be the fundamental limitation of print-bind-store-ship-and-get-retail-shelf-space is disappearing fast. I want to behave and write in a professional way, but neither my income nor my ego is dependent on pleasing traditional print publishers.

Which is a long-winded way of saying "ebook publishing seems like a good avenue for me."

Thank you for your reduced-rate offer! You're in the absolutely unique position of knowing the original work really well AND being trained to make it better!
Aug. 1st, 2014 08:13 pm (UTC)
I am honoured that you think so. :)
Jul. 31st, 2014 05:59 pm (UTC)
Jul. 31st, 2014 09:04 pm (UTC)
::waves hello::
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )



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