Once Upon a Time…Editing

firstdraft

There comes a time in a writer’s life when they have finished their first draft. And they’re happy. The sun is shining a little brighter, food tastes better and the stress of finishing a project is gone. Congratulations, the writer has fulfilled their destiny.

Or have they?

Because there’s the first draft, lying there in the sunshine of pride for two weeks, maybe 2 months. And from a certain time onward, the sunshine fades, the manuscript takes a big leap and lands on the writer’s shoulders, whispering: “I’m not finished. I’m just a first draft.”

The writer’s eyes water, but they’re fighting tears because…this is, after all, the moment they’ve been waiting for. And yet, there’s a whole lotta work yet to be done. Editing their own work.

This is necessary, of course, because when you’ve finished your first draft you have no idea if it’s even any good. We cannot evaluate our own work, it’s impossible. Even a manuscript we’ve worked on for years, sweat over, almost despaired over, can be shite, not printable, a total bust. It’s sad and it’s true.

But…even though we cannot evaluate, we can still make it better. And that first draft, yeah, that needs to be bettered desperately.

Halfway Home.altThat’s the kind of point where I’m at with Halfway Home. That is, I’ve just read the complete first draft and am devastated. Because there’s simply so much work to do. What I did while reading it, I added commentaries on what I need to consider. It’s stuff like: “Yeah, you have this in another convo, take it out.” or “Dude, what’s with all this exposition? Nobody cares!” or “You might wanna add that scene and not just tell people about it.”

Yeah, a lotta work. But also: fun work. No, seriously, editing can be fun and not just for geeks like me. Think about it: you get to eradicate all your mistakes without anyone ever seeing them. You have a whole thing and now you only have to make it shine a little bit more, make it as close to perfect as you possibly can. And nobody will ever see the trainwreck you just read. That’s good, that’s very good.

Because, let’s be honest, writing is only part of the job. And you knew that. Instantly, when you sat down to write and maybe weren’t one hundred per cent satisfied with what you just wrote, you thought: “I’ll polish that later.” Maybe you even made a note, wrote a comment to that effect. Because you knew there’s a later.

For me, later has arrived. Today, I’m gonna start translating those comments into my text, delete dialogue tags, do whatever I need to do to make Halfway Home the story I wanted to  read to begin with. And I’m happy for that chance, because really, that first draft – it’s between me, myself and I.

Happy NaNoWriMo 2015

Halfway Home.alt

Ah, November, finally. I love November, unlike a lot of people. I love the first cold days, the rainy days you spent at home with a novel and tea, the chills it gives you. And then there’s NaNoWriMo, and I’ve come to like that a lot too.

Since my prep post in September, some things have happened. Or rather, they didn’t happen. I’ve thought I would have done a lot more writing, finishing some things. But I haven’t. That’s why I’m going to do NaNo a little differently this year.

I will be writing on different projects during NaNo. And yes, one of them will be to finish a novel I’ve been writing on for over a year now – or not writing, however you wanna see it. I found that I would feel better if I finished these other projects before delving into a new one. So, this is kinda bits and pieces-NaNo.

If you’re wondering what I’ll be up to during NaNo:

Project 1: Finishing a dream, an obsession, a nightmare that kept me up for over three years now. I can’t go on with life unless I’m writing this and it’s only roughly 1,500 words I’ll still have to write – in German.

courageProject 2: Courage – After Dark. A short story I had planned to finish for Halloween. I’m a little late, but the story turned out longer than I had anticipated. I’m around 8.000 words now. Not sure, how long it’ll be in the end, but it’s something you’ll be able to read sometime in November, I guess. I’ll keep you updated.

Project 3: Halfway Home. The novel. I’ve started this as a holiday short story for last year, but it got longer and now I’m at 68k words. That’s what happens sometimes, but I’m looking forward to finishing it. I guess another 10k words will do it, hopefully.

Project 4: A short story. I have the idea and title for this one, but don’t wanna go into it too much. It’s still in a dark space of my brain, because I didn’t have the time to think about it much. I want it to be around 7,000 words. We’ll see.

Project 5: Remembering Amy. The idea is very old. It was actually a novel I started in rememberingamyGerman, but now I’ve been rethinking the concept and want to turn it into a short story or novella, depending on how long it will turn out to be. It can’t really be done in the way I envisioned it before – too sentimental, almost soap story-like.

Those are the projects I want to work on. Hopefully, I can finish all of them, or at least most of them. Some of these projects have been haunting me for some time and I actually found it a relief when I decided to schedule them for NaNo. I’ll probably be updating you every Sunday about my progress.

Happy writing to all who participate on NaNoWriMo – and those who don’t too. Virtual pen to paper, lovelies. Let’s go!

Done [in November]

doneinnovember

I’m aware that November isn’t quite over yet but I’m trying to put my stories into order, to see what I’ve done, what I’m going to do next month and next year. And since I have pretty much given up on NaNoWriMo (I’m gonna write more about that on Sunday), this is a good moment to make an evaluation of some sort.

While I completely failed NaNo, I’m not in the least disappointed with how November (and October too) went. Even Nano itself was a positive experience and I put Carpe Tempus on my writing projects for 2015-list.

I already wrote in October that I finished The Affair. So, I sent it to a publisher and have now signed a contract. Work on this story is not over yet, I’m going to have to make revisions now and then there will be the editing process. I’m going to keep you updated on this story but that’s where it’s at.

I have written another short story for a German publication. It’s called Unser erster-letzter Tanz [transl. Our First Last Dance] and it’s been accepted for an anthology that comes out in June or July. The story is about a transgender person who falls for a waitress at his cousin’s engagement party. So far, my German stories have all taken place in the U.S., but this one takes place in Germany with a very German setting. I feel that family functions differ a lot between Germany and USA, and it was very interesting to put a little of my own experiences into this story. (There will probably be a German post next year about this anthology.)

November last is another deadline and I’ve written a short story for another German anthology that comes out around Valentine’s Day next year. It’s called Versch(l)ossen and I’ve started wriiting it in 2007 – it’s been a long time coming. It’s now at around 6,500 words and it’s about two women meeting because one of them locks their bikes together by accident. They fall for each other, of course – I mean, it’s for Valentine’s Day so that was kind of a given, yes? I will have to do a quick edit, but that’s a lot easier in German than in English.

That was November (despite the two days left). I’m going to tell you more about NaNo and what I’ve planned for next year in my next posts.

Carpe tempus, lovelies.

NaNoWriMo – Update [2]

A whole week of NaNo – or rather, writing. I’m no stranger to writing every day, but as with reading books for classes at university, it’s always a little more difficult if you ‘have to.’ I don’t know if others feel like that, I do.

But it was a good week, not great, not sensational, but good. I wrote almost every day. Yes, I took a day off, but only one. I reached my daily requirement of 1,666 words twice, so far. I’m at 10,724 words which means I got my 10,000 word badge yesterday.

Don’t fool yourself, writing every day (even almost every day) is hard. My life’s drama does not allow for uninterrupted writing time. Sometimes, I’m sitting here at night while the tv is blaring, listening to music to drown out the tv, trying to concentrate on the words in my head. I don’t know if any of what I’ve written has a continuous rhythm, because I can’t read it out aloud. Hard time writing, at the moment, but at least I’m finding the time.

I really like my story. I’ve done some research and changed the locale from Reading to Bradford. I read about James Garfield and his wife, Lucretia (for some reason, he seems to me one of the most fascinating presidents of the U.S.). And I’ve researched first editions of books, just to know, you know. I find that time travelling stories need some reserach, especially history. But Carpe Tempus is also about books, about writing – and I’m doing what I criticize in others: wirting about writers. It’s tricky, and now add the fact that I studied literature and you have someone really nerdy, jerking literary theory onto an electronic page.

I’d have to read those parts again to see if I’d have to edit them, but that’s for later. Now, it’s just writing, looking the most imminent stuff up, playing – I’m playing with this, and it’s a lot of fun. I know, I said it’s hard and it is, but it’s also fun because it’s writing.

I’ve written 5 chapters so far. Wells is sorting through her mom’s extensive library, meets her mother’s lawyer with whom Wells went to high school. She also meets someone new, coincidentally, the woman who owns the local book store. Sorting through her mother’s papers, she feels that something is not quite right but she can’t put her finger on it yet. And that’s where I’m at. It’s still not much, maybe it doesn’t even make that much sense, we’ll see. I’m going word for word.

Carpe tempus, lovelies.

I’m Writing [2]

Welcome to another installment of ‘I’m writing,’ though maybe you’re already well-informed on my projects – or so you think. There is always something I’m not sharing, you know, I’m secretive that way. So, let’s have a look at my current projects – and rejects.

NaNoWriMo: Carpe Tempus – now, I have talked about this at length, I know. Let me just add the synopsis from the official page:

After her mother’s death, Wells Brandis returns to her hometown to settle her mother’s affairs. The relationship between the two women has never been good and they haven’t seen each other in years. But with no family left, Wells feels the obligation to take care of the funeral arrangements.

While looking through her mother’s papers, Wells discovers non-sensical scribblings, blueprints for a strange machine and documents that seem disturbingly out of place and time. As she is searching for something or someone to explain her mother to her, Wells has to struggle with her own life’s failings, a girlfriend/agent who pushes her creative bounderies and an old flame stoked into a fire.

When she uncovers her mother’s greatest secret, time loses all meaning while becoming the focus of Wells’ life – like it has once been her mother’s.

And an excerpt – also from the official page – from the first chapter (it is not the beginning, exactly):

A memory flashed before Wells’ eyes – she came running down these stairs, pulling a parka over a sweater. She hadn’t even worried about being asked where she would be going at this hour, her mother rarely cared enough to ask, but then she had heard her mother’s voice from the kitchen. She had been on the phone, arguing with someone.

„Why would I tell her? She’s never even met him and she doesn’t care!“ Her mother had almost yelled into the receiver. Wells had walked down the small corridor toward the kitchen. She didn’t mean to eavesdrop, she was just curious because her mother never lost her temper. It was an odd sound, the tone of her mother’s voice raised in anger.

„I don’t care either!“ And after a short moment: „I’m sure he’s got enough relatives to take care of that, I’m not going to worry about it! Goodbye!“ And she had slammed the phone onto the cradle just next to the door which she had pushed open a moment later and right into Wells’ face.

Her mother had stared at her for a long moment just around the door. Wells had thought that she would tell her not to eavesdrop next time, but instead she had said:

„Your father died.“ Then she had turned and instead of leaving the kitchen she took the door that led down into the basement where she knew Wells wouldn’t follow.

That was how Wells had found out about her father’s death, that was how she found out that she even had a father, had had a father.

Keep in mind that it’s a first draft, there’s a lot of work to be done yet. I’m still behind on my daily word count but I’ve found that I can write under ‘orrible conditions (sorry, Titanic flashback, right there) – with the TV blaring and me trying to black it out with music via head phones. I’m expecting mistakes galore from those sessions but at least I’m writing words.

If you’re participating at NaNoWriMo yourself and you’re still in need of a writing buddy, buddy me up – Corikane is the name, written as one word. I would be happy to hear from you.

Versch(l)ossen – don’t worry, it’s a German title (and story) and it’s okay, if you don’t know what it means. It’s actually kind of a pun. The word including the l means locked, the word without the l means crushing on someone.

The story is about two young women who meet when one of them accidentally locks their bikes together. The other then does the same on purpose, so that they have to meet to unlock their bikes together. It turns out that the second girl has been crushing on the first one for some time but was too shy to approach her.

This idea is actually several years old already. I started it and then let it drop, but it’s still a good idea and I absolutely love the title. I’m now reviving it for a Valentine’s Day anthology submission. As I said, it’s gonna be a German story… I added it for full disclosure’s sake.

Eternal Thirst – I already told you about this in my blog post ‘Writing Vampire.’ This is the short story I had wanted to submit for another Valentine’s Day anthology. I didn’t finish it, but I would like to just as a writing exercise now. It’s supposed to be an inner monologue of a female vampire. She’s watching her ex-lover through the window, thinking about her need for her, her thirst for her. It’s a little dark and borders on stalking. I guess, it’s too dark for a Valentine’s story, really. And I already wrote about some other problems I had with it in my blog post.

I think it’s a good idea, I’m gonna keep you updated on whether I’ve written it or not. It will probably have to wait until after NaNoWriMo – unless it’ll just come over me that I have to finish it.

These are my current projects. Halfway Home is on the back burner for the moment but I’m plannning on picking it up again in December – which will probably be good for the story since the first part is about Christmas.

I’m looking forward to this month of getting back into the swing of writing.

Carpe tempus, lovelies.

Writing Vampire

I do believe that all writers (and maybe some other creative folk) who read Twilight and didn’t like it (like me) have sat down one lazy Sunday afternoon and thought about how they would do it differently. Not the original tale, or not necessarily, but an idea along those lines – a vampire novel. Or a novel with a human protagonist who meets a vampire and a werewolf and even, possibly, other supernatural creatures. Maybe it’s a romance, maybe it’s a murder mystery, or a vampire hunter novel, who knows.

I did that one day (I don’t really remember if it was a Sunday but in my mind sundays are the best days for doing something like that – possibly in autumn) and the thing that immediately sprang to mind was: don’t make your human main character enter an affair with the vampire, a crush would be okay, but go no further. If you have read Twilight you may remember how Meyer went on and on about how cold Edward was, like a marble pillar (or some such phallic metaphors she used). And I thought: urgh. Now that’s romantic – lying next to someone cold and hard. And that was the main reason I would rather have Bella be with Jacob (no, I’m not on Team Jacob, that would have taken more involvement than I was willing to put into the novel[s], but body-wise he was the better choice – never mind that they were both big douchecanoes).

I am aware that Stoker imagined Dracula as both vampire and werewolf – which is just another variation of the man as beast-theme, one where both or all manifestations are beasts – but I must confess I like the tale of a feud between the two races better. I especially like the tale of Underworld and must confess that the third movie (I haven’t watched the fourth yet) is my favorite. One reason is certainly Rhona Mitra, another is that I seem to be more invested in the Lycan story than the Vampyre lore. Much like with Batman, I now confess freely that I don’t get the attraction of a vampire, not entirely. I kinda fell for the female vampire of Frght Night 2, but I’m sure that had more to do with Jaime Murray.

But that was the premise I kind of set myself. Now, this is a difficult premise. I’m a writer of romance, though I guess it’s more by default than by conscious choice, and writing a supernatural story that has a vampire in it, even if it’s not a Mary Sue-like figure like Edward Cullen, and most certainly not a vegan vampire, and not have her be the love interest… difficult, to say the least.

I still do have that idea on my back-burner, it might even be a trilogy, but this idea is not the reason I was thinking about vampires. I was trying to write a short story from the I-perspective of a vampire, a Valentine’s story for a submission. And I got stuck yesterday because I couldn’t overcome my own cynicism that poured into the character. The question is: how do you make a stereotype that is as typecast as romantic hero as the vampire think about love? How can any creature which is as naturally cast as perfect lover not be disillusioned by that role? We are all aware of the sexual power of the bite (and I guess that’s acutally more sensual than being mauled by a werewolf), the allure of darkness, add a foreign accent (just remember Antonio Banderas in Interview with a Vampire) and even I start to swoon. But those are tropes – overdone, outdated maybe, and I do feel that a vampire, a creature of our time and cultural upbringing would be aware of them.

This is where I’m stuck – a Valentine’s vampire story. I feel like I need to go thinking out of the box for this one, give myself a little more time, make a writing exercise of it maybe. Just so I know how to write vampire when I go writing that novel that is not Twilight.

NaNoWriMo – Almost There

On Saturday the madness begins. I’m not sure how much of madness it will really be for me because… well, I’m not easily excitable and I won’t pull any weird stunts, I won’t overdo it. In short: I’m German, and thus not easily moved into a group mentality. You may scoff, but I think historically speaking we learned our lesson and are now rather weary of the concept (or, as always, it’s just me).

But I just sat and thought a little about my idea Carpe Tempus – and I still think it’s a good one. That’s a pleasant surprise since I had some doubts the past few days, especially with everything else I still want to write, to start something new, a new idea… hmmmm. But, no, I like it, it’s solid (and, I guess, I’m using that phrase far too much to describe stories… it means, that something is good without being overdone, it’s not extraordinary, it’s solid).

The next few days, I’ll be thinking about my main character a little, about her relationship to her mother, to her girlfriend, to that someone who (re)enters her life. I like her name, though I guess some won’t. Sometimes it’s difficult to justify your choice of name and people get critical, even upset. I think with a novel that has a time travelling theme, the name of Wells is self-explanatory, and Brandis just goes well with it.

I usually don’t think about plot much, I let my characters decide what they do, who they talk to, when they discover that life-altering secret. At their own pace. I have my few plot-markers along the way. The plot is never the problem, though I guess I could be criticized for having too little.

The bigger problem will be the writing schedule. I’m thinking about this, about how outer circumstances could prevent me from writing. I know my writing style, I know my pace. I write better before 12 p.m., but an afternoon session is not a problem. At around 7 p.m. my brain becomes sluggish and undecipherable. I can easily write 2,500 to 3,500 words a day, with a free day every now and then. I’m able to insert a day of up to 7,000 words about every 7-10 days. If I write 10,000 words one day, I’ll be unable to write for a couple of days, it knocks me out flat and I honestly doubt that I will have the time to write that much in November – outer circumstances. My most prolific month this year was (quite ironically) February – I wrote over 70,000 words and I’d like to actively challenge that number because I see my novel at around 75,000 words, rather than 50,000.

I guess, I’ll set my own standards for NaNoWriMo. I have to. I like to think that my muse cannot be contained by regulations made by others – I’m that much of a self-confident asshole. But I still want to use it as a kick-starter. I need one. I’m not sure about how much I’ll be participating in the activities on the platform – I’m a loner by nature and writing hasn’t just chosen me, I chose it, because I like the solitary nature of it.

The next few days will be about thinking, maybe taking some notes. I’m looking forward to starting on a new project but I’ll be writing up to it. I still want to write a short story, have to finish that block on the road of my life, and maybe get some things done that will make life easier along the (writing) way – my personal life is crypticized.

See you writing, lovelies. Carpe tempus.

I’m writing [1]

At least, I’m trying. I don’t have to tell you that life can get between you and your passion all too often, we all know how that works. When I’m writing, though, I’m working on either of these two ideas, stories… whatever you want to call them.

 

The Affair – The title is what it’s about; two women are having an affair. I like the psychological predicament of the situation, the guilt, the questions about their marriages. What makes people cheat?

I have been working on this for a little while now – far longer than I wanted to. But I find the drama of it very complicated and that slows down the writing process (besides what life throws at me at the moment). The chapters are the days of close to one week starting with Monday – I’m at Thursday right now. The plan is for Saturday to be the last regular chapter but there’ll also be an epilogue (I like epilogues).

I think it’ll have close to 20,000 words when it’s finished.

 

Halfway Home – It started out as a Christmas short story but got a little out of hand. And I guess, it’ll get even further out of hand and will possibly end up being a novella.

It’s about Dina and Kerry who meet at a hotel in Cincinnati where Dina is stranded due to bad weather over the holidays. Kerry celebrates Christmas with her family there and she is loathe to see Dina spend Christmas alone so she tries to get her to open up to her. There are some things going on with their respective families, as well.

I really like Dina and Kerry, they make for interesting characters. We’ll see how far that interest will take me. The story takes place in Cincinnati, then Denver, and then New York where both of my protagonists live. I’m not sure that it will end there. I’m also not sure how it will end at this point, but I’m confident that the story will take me where it wants to go. Hopefully, it will all make sense in the end.

 

Well, those are the two projects closest to completion at the moment. I have some ideas on back-burners, there are always ideas lurking at the back of a writer’s mind. I’ll tell you about them when I start writing them.

So long then, lovelies – be good.