Sunday, August 04, 2013

Patience and Popcorn Kittens

If patience is a virtue, I'm afraid I'm not very virtuous. Oh, sometimes it seems like I'm very patient, but that's an illusion. I tend to take a long time to make decisions. I'll weigh pros and cons. I'll evaluate the cost, if it's something involving money. Or the cost in time, if that's what's involved. But, once I've made up my mind, I want it now!

Silly me, I thought I'd have so much time after I retired! Hours of time. Days of time. Weeks of time. Can somebody please tell me where it goes?

I've been having a severe attack of what Kris Rusch calls Popcorn Kittens:



I have so many ideas, so many things I want to do, I can hardly decide what to do first! Just like the kittens in the video, my ideas are hopping around inside my brain. I want to try writing short stories. I want to learn how to do my own ebook covers. I want to exercise every day. I want to increase my blogging to three times per week. I want to read other people's blogs and comment on them. I want to tweet more regularly. This website needs updating. I joined Google Plus, but I don't know how to use it. Having seen several Pinterest boards this week, I'd love to set up one of my own. Do I take the plunge and join Facebook? And a newsletter. I want to add a signup for a newsletter. Which means creating a newsletter.

Then there's the other mystery series I want to start. Although I plan on writing the first draft during NaNoWriMo in November, there are so many other things I can do right now. Character sketches. Maps of my fictional town. Plot cards. Research!

I love research. Which brings to mind that time travel romance historical science fiction thing that's been in the back of my mind for years. I have four or five history books I've bought that I need to read to get the background right for that story.

Reading! I l-o-v-e reading! What do I read next? The first book in a new series by my friend Sheila Connolly? It came out months ago and I haven't read it yet. The next Outlander book? There's a new one of those out soon and it's being made into a series on Starz that will start in 2014. I really need to catch up on all the Outlander books. More indie published books? I so want to read books by the people I've met online, get an idea of what kinds of books are selling in the indie market. (Aside from erotica.)

And, having just finished the first draft of the second Community of Faith Mystery, I want to publish it. Everyone says that the secret to a successful indie publishing career is to publish a lot of books, preferably in a series, and publish them often. With that in mind, I made a plan at the beginning of the year that included publishing not only this book, but the first in that new mystery series, during 2013.

It's not going to happen. In fact, it's starting to look like Book Two won't see the Amazon store shelves until 2014. That makes me feel like a balloon with a slow leak. Just the thought of it being that long is deflating.

But, even as I celebrated writing the final two scenes this week, I grieved because this book is so broken. That's not unusual for a first draft. Although some few writers write "The End" and mean it, most of us wind up with a big, steaming pile of poo on the first go round. The essence of a book is in there, but we have to dig in and find it. And then we have to make it shine. My feeling about Community of Faith Book Two (I'm not even confident enough in my working title to name it here) is that revision is going to be overwhelming.

Then, serendipitously, Holly Lisle announced the relaunch of her How to Revise Your Novel class this week. Remember what I said about decisions up at the top?

This has been a week of trying to decide. Do I really want to take another writing class? The answer to that one is almost always yes, but after the major disappointment I had with the last class I took, I swore I'd be pickier about spending time or money on another one. In particular, I would never take another class from an unpublished writer. Okay, Holly passes that test. She's published over thirty novels, both traditionally and now independently.

But Holly's classes are long. And hard. And they cost more than the thirty or forty dollars of most online classes. And I stalled out on How To Think Sideways because, although she claims to be left-brained, she's a lot more right-brained than I am. Some of her concepts just didn't gel for me.

On the other hand, you definitely get your money's worth. She gives you lessons and worksheets and videos and specific homework and a support forum and lifetime updates. And I know from having taken HTTS that you get more long after the class has ended.

And I know what really scares me is that I'll have to take a serious look at what I've written and own up to all its flaws. Which is both good news and bad news. It's too easy when you're doing revision on your own to rationalize and tell yourself that your info dump isn't boring, it's really necessary, and you're going to just leave it in there. Or that it's okay to have absolutely no conflict in this one scene. After all, don't my readers want to know what happens at a volunteer food pantry? Or that these walk-on characters are so interesting that readers will ignore the fact that they never show up again. Right.

Most of all, the class is 22 weeks long. I know, if it's like How to Think Sideways (and I have no reason to believe it won't be), it will probably take longer than a week to do each lesson. There's a lot of thinking and a lot of work in each of them. There's the sitting at the dining room table with sheets of paper and index cards and notebooks and scribbles and trying to figure out how to make this all fit, followed by the getting up and pacing and scratching your head. And, with four months of classes and work on my book, coupled with taking the month of November to draft the other book I want to start, there's no way I'll have a publishable book before next year.

I don't want it to take that long. But sometimes that's what it takes. I checked before I started to write this and confirmed that the first document I have for Faith, Hope, and Murder is from April, 2008. That's almost five years before I published it. The earliest date on some of my research documents for Book Two is October, 2011. So I'm working significantly faster. :::grin:::

I've decided that it's better to take the time to put out a good book than to hurry up and put out a not-so-good book. In fact, by the time you read this, I'll have signed up for How to Revise Your Novel.

And now I want to run right out to Office Max and buy looseleafs and notebooks and index cards and all the other goodies you get to play with during the revision class. I want to start NOW!
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