It’s a big day for me. I feel very accomplished. I finished the final reading of Scribbling The Eternal and am now ready to turn it over for editing. The final word count of the 35 page chapter sequel was 125,146 words.
As I neared the ending of my read, I was overcome with the feeling that I was agreeing to permanence. That this would be the final version, the final words, the final phrases, the final descriptions. A draft is a hard thing for me to let go of because then there’s no more rewriting. It never fails that after months have passed since I finished writing something, that I find things that I would like to go back and rewrite and say in some other way. But publishing makes things so final. You have to live with it.
Regardless, after twenty-seven months of writing and rewriting, it feels great to step away from the writing process and move to the publishing process.
So this weekend was the weekend I returned to my manuscript to give it my final read. I read for many hours, but unfortunately I was only able to make it through sixteen of the thirty-five chapters. The revisions I made were small. On Saturday I netted nine new words, but on Sunday I netted negative two words. I’m tired now and decided I will just have to continue my final read next weekend. Though I’m behind schedule, I don’t feel bad as I am enjoying the read. I’m pretty happy with what I’ve written.
This is my second of two weekends I’m stepping away from working on Scribbling The Eternal before I give it my final read. It feels so strange not to be writing, although I’ve been doing poetry exercises from the book I purchased The Poet’s Companion. Writing poetry has been an interesting experience already. Though it is writing, the approach to it feels different. The thinking and daydreaming even feels slightly different. I don’t know that I can put the differences into words (which I suppose is a problem, being a writer, but oh well). At any rate, I’m enjoying it.
As I was falling asleep last night, it came to mind that the phrase “my darling tragedy” might not have made its way into my new book. The term of endearment was one issued by Mirela Cobalcescu, describing Orly Bialek in The Scribbled Victims. This morning I checked the manuscript and discovered that the term was not used in the new book.
My checklist of things to address in my rewrites was cleared two weekends ago, but when I do my final read next weekend, I’m wondering if I will find a place where I can insert it. For I do love that term for Orly so much.
This is the first weekend in a very long time that I did not spend writing. As I said in my previous post, I decided to step away from Scribbling The Eternal for a couple of weeks before giving it my final read. I’ve been spending most of my time seeing friends and reading. Today I finished reading Nausea and now plan to read a book about writing poetry that was co-authored by a poet I greatly admire, Kim Addonizio. My aim isn’t to become a poet, but I’m hoping to make my fiction writing more beautiful to read.
Around 4 p.m. today at Starbucks, I finished writing Scribbling The Eternal. It took twenty-six months to write and was completed at just over 125K words, so it’s significantly longer than The Scribbled Victims which was 82K words.
I feel excited, but the feeling of relief hasn’t hit me yet.
I’m going to not look at the manuscript for a couple of weeks and then do one final read through before I hand it over for editing.
I should have posted this back on September 22, but it has not yet become a habit of mine to post to this blog. Anyhow, after 22 months of writing, I finally finished the full draft of Scribbling The Eternal. I was in shock when I finished. I don’t think it really hit me until the next day, which is when I sent out the final eight chapters to my beta readers.
Since that time, I’ve received their feedback, via the surveys I write for them to fill out. The surveys ask some general questions and some very pointed questions about things I am struggling with in particular. The responses have been mostly positive. All said it was a strong sequel, which was a big relief to me because I think sequels are difficult to write, especially when you know people enjoyed the first book. One beta reader even preferred Scribbling The Eternal to The Scribbled Victims, which made me feel especially accomplished.
All that being said, the amount of notes I took from their feedback is making me realize the rewriting phase is going to take a lot longer than I expected. Since I do a lot of my rewriting as I write my books, the earlier the chapter, the cleaner it generally is (which can work against me if I have to make early changes because that means deconstructing a lot of revised and reworked text). Since I considered the majority of my book to already be clean, I expected about a six week rewrite period, but with all the notes I received and the introspection I’ve done on my own, I’m now thinking it could take between four and six months.
I’m not discouraged by that though. I know it’s in the interest of producing the best book I can, so it’s all worth it, even though it means the gratification of releasing a new book will have to wait a little longer. Anyhow, I hope people are really happy with the final version of the sequel.
It seems The Scribbled Victims is finally gaining word of mouth. I can see on Kindle Unlimited that about 3,000 pages are being read every day. I just hope it continues (and grows).
It was my plan to do a photo shoot at the end of September to create a new cover for The Scribbled Victims as well as create the cover for Scribbling The Eternal for when it releases. Though I love my current cover, I thought my books would gain more visibility if I put Orly on each book cover. I’ve spent months preparing for this photo shoot–arranging a studio, finding a photographer, hiring a model, finding a special effects artist to make fangs and do blood make up, and purchasing costumes. Everything was coming together until last week, when I found out that Amazon will not allow me to advertise a book if the book cover has blood on it. I can have a book cover with blood on it, but I just cannot use AMS (Amazon Marketing Services) to promote a bloody book.
Well that sucks. These are vampire books. How can I not have blood on the covers?
Since word of mouth is finally happening, part of me thinks–fuck it, just put blood on the cover anyway. But the conservative part of me doesn’t want to limit my options in the event I want to use AMS in the future.
I also just read this book called Mastering Amazon Ads. I didn’t think it was written very clearly, but I did glean some helpful advice from it. One thing I really dread (and that I think many authors dread) is the thought of rewriting the blurb on the back of their book. This was stressed heavily in the book. I’ve rewritten mine a couple times already, but I suppose there’s always room for improvement. So I just ordered a book that is solely about writing your book blurb. I hope it’s helpful and that I can approach the rewrite of mine with an open mind. To be completely honest, I wish I could just hire a professional to write it for me, but I don’t know how to go about finding a professional blurb writer, let alone vetting one out.
But stay tuned…a new cover and a new blurb are on their way.
Many writers give the advice that you should write every day. I’ve even given that advice to other writers, and with all my heart I believe it to be the best advice for any writer. However, as I still have not fulfilled my dream of writing for a living, I still have a day job that often leaves me mentally drained at the end of the day, and so writing every single day is not something I have been able to master myself.
The main reason I think it is important to write every day isn’t because you’ll finish faster, rather it’s that doing so keeps you engaged with your story so that it is always fresh in your mind.
Though I don’t write every day, I do keep track of my word count on an Excel spreadsheet and set a minimum quota of new words that I must write for the month. I say new words, because I only count the words that add to the total word count. Many times when I’m editing, I throw away more words than I have written, so I actually end up with a negative word count for the day.
Constantly opening my word count spreadsheet inspires me to write frequently and ensures that I am always on track to finishing my next book. It’s also a nice way for me to see the progress I’ve made and it gives me a rough idea as to when I will finish my first full draft.
My original quota was 10,000 new words per month, but as my doctor, psychiatrist, and psychologist all believe I have too much stress in my life, I lowered it to only 5,000 new words per month. It wasn’t easy for me to cut my quota in half as I knew it would only slow the progress of my book. I already consider myself to be a slow writer, and am jealous of writers who are able to put out multiple books per year. But the flip side is that 5,000 new words per month is such an easy goal to achieve, that it never feels overwhelming to sit down and write.
I may write slowly, but I do finish, and that’s what’s most important. The Scribbled Victims, which was 82,000 words took me two years to write and rewrite, and its sequel, Scribbling The Eternal looks like it will take just as long, if not longer. Below is a screenshot of my word count spreadsheet for this month. You’ll see that today I wrote 581 new words and that I’m well over my 5,000 words for the month. You’ll also see Scribbling The Eternal has surpassed 100,000 words. If you saw how far the monthly tabs go back you’d see I started writing the sequel in December 2016. I highlight the weekends so that I focus on them as they are my most productive days since I spend them at Starbucks instead of my office staring at the financial spreadsheets I’m paid to work with.
I’m so close to finishing Scribbling The Eternal, the sequel to The Scribbled Victims, but I’ve hit a wall and her name is Mirela Cobalcescu. She’s begun behaving in ways I didn’t see coming.
Let me explain. When I write, I don’t write completely alone. My characters do a lot of the writing for me. They do the things they want to do and say the things they want to say. Sure I created them but from there my job is mostly to place them in situations and then allow them to be true to themselves. This is especially the case for the character of Orly Bialek–I just let her go and she does her own thing. I’ve gotten a lot of comments about how unpredictable and irrational Orly is, and that makes me happy because it tells me that, on the page, she is just being herself.
But in this new book, I feel Mirela’s behavior is making me lose the directional control of the story and I’ve been struggling to find a way back to the situations I planned to have her and the other characters face. It’s been very difficult for me mentally because I thought I was so close to finishing the full draft, but now I think it could take weeks if not months more to complete, which will mean a later release date than I planned.
Maybe it will sound strange to you, but I need to talk to Mirela alone and find out what she really wants so I can figure out a way to steer this story back on course.
If you write fiction, stage plays, or screenplays, do you approach writing in a similar way? Do you interact with your characters and give them the freedom to be who they want to be rather than who you want them to be?