A Change of Scenery to Stop Chewing It.

21 04 2011

It’s been a bit since my last update about writing. Even though I did my best to not let my first rejection rattle me, even though I knew what I submitted was dark and probably not going to be an easy sell to a publisher, the email was enough to make me start second guessing what I’ve written on the story I’m working on now.

Even though I had every intention of getting back to work on the new novella right away, when I found myself staring at what I’d written and contemplating deleting half of my word count, I knew I needed to lift my hands off the keyboard and walk away for a bit.

I took some time off to be a reader for a bit. I finished two books Room, by Emma Donoghue who is actually living in the same city as me, which gave me a little hope. And Saving Rachel by John Locke. They were both complete mind bender books, one told from the point of view of a 5 year old boy who has spent his entire life in one room, being held there by, along with his mother, by a man he calls Old Nick, and the other being the type of story that loops back and twists and even at the end you still weren’t sure exactly what had happened.

I’m firmly of the belief that writers need to be readers as well. If you don’t read, it’s like saying you’re going to be a pilot but being never having flown because you’re afraid to fly. I also find it inspires and informs my own writing and like it has before, it definitely did that now. It blows a fresh air on where you’re stuck and helps you find the trail of your own voice again, because as you read you start thinking of how you’d word something differently, what plot twist would have been something you would have done, or not done. You start believing you can do this again.

Writing is a solitary thing and usually I’m fine with doing it at at home in the writing space I’ve created or anywhere else in my house, but delving back into my novella, I found that I couldn’t do this in a solitary space. I needed movement and voices around me, maybe to drown out the overly critical one inside of me that wanted to slash and burn as it went. So I went out to a bookstore and situated myself at a small table by a window in the Starbucks located inside. Armed with caffeine and pastry, I took a deep breath, opened my file and dove in.

When I was able to finally look at my own work again, without wanting to start over or take away half of my word count, I read over the 5,000 words I already had with a critical, but not masochistic eye. I edited as I went and only had to lose 1100 words and some of the exposition in those words has since been worked back in.

The voice of criticism that had leapt to the forefront was now being beaten back by the slightly sullen voice of Matthew, who hates the feeling of being ignored more than any other thing and then followed by Jonah who was used to being noticed in public and fading into the background and towing the family line in private, both of them bending my ear with what they’d been up to while the other voice had taken over. The reading and consuming of others words had given mine back to me.

This is why a writer is always, first and foremost, a reader. You find your own words from the words of others.

Word Count Wars.

24 02 2011

I’m in somewhat of an odd position.

Usually in a writer’s ongoing war with word count, you’re slashing and burning your way to reducing it down in the editing process. You’re working to tighten up the structure and make sure you’re conveying your message with an economy of words and maximum of impact. Instead of this usual modus operendi, I’m actually adding word count and it’s an odd sensation.

I’m in the process of reworking a piece of fiction that I’d written that had topped out at just over 10,000 words and in the process of that rework, a friend, and one of the other two sides of what we jokingly call the Contextual Poly-editorial Triangle that her, myself and another friend have formed, gave me the good advice of seeing if I could work the word count to over 15k for it to qualify under the novella category for submission to publish.

It’s sound advice, the commission rate on novellas is higher and the marketing push done by the publisher is more comprehensive, including the work receiving its own cover artwork. Under this word count it would only qualify it as short fiction and my best bet if I can’t reach that word count is to submit it to an anthology, where the maximum word count is 15k, but they prefer less.

I’m treading a fine line  of  if I’m  adding value to the story with new words, but I worry about going over the edge into adding word count for the sake of hitting a target. If I feel that is becoming the case, I’m certain I’m strong enough and have enough faith in my story to halt the adding of words and let the lower word count speak for itself.

Current word count: 13, 506/15,000