Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Evolution of a Story

Here is the story of Secrets of Skin and Stone from birth to where I am now.

Once upon a time in April of 2010, I wrote this story about a girl with OCD, and the guy who liked her a whole lot--and he was a gargoyle. Back then, it had the soap-opera worthy title of "Shades of Obsession." *Wendy gags*

There it is.  Isn't it pretty?  I thought so.  It was 70K, so basically just a baby novel compared to most of mine. As I've done in the past, I set it aside once it was done so I could gain perspective.  In September of 2010, I took another look at it... felt ill about the title, so I changed that and a good many other things, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it.  I was already querying on a few other things, and I'd been asked by Sarah to do a revision on Curse Me a Story. (She hadn't seen this book nor was she my agent back then.) So, I set aside "Good Girls Don't Kiss Gargoyles." (Yes, that was the name back then.)

Then, in January 2011, I got this crazy idea in my head that I was going to do Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award and I was going to use this book... after I changed the name to Secrets of Skin and Stone and majorly worked it over. Majorly. Sarah contacted me about another revision on Curse Me a Story, and I said I'd do the revision for her after I finished this revision of Secrets of Skin and Stone because there was a contest deadline looming. She asked me about this book and then asked me for a look at it when I was done with revision.

I was determined to polish this story until it cracked to pieces and then polish them too. I was going to treat each chapter like a short story and severely revise it to death.  I started reading it aloud, and I realized my novel set in Alabama didn't have an accent... at all. So, that revision took a while. Reading it aloud for over a week made me hoarse, and I talked with a southern accent for at least a week. The deadline passed, and I didn't enter, but the manuscript that emerged from the fire was the one that got me repped.  When compared to the original, it looked like this:

The black is what lasted... so very little. It was up to 90K, though.  Yay!  90K!  Sarah helped me polish it again, and we worked through a lot of things, and it went out for submission.  We got feedback from producers (through the film agent with my literary agency) and editors, and I went back to revision and worked on it over the summer.  This time for a MAJOR revision. It needed more plot... and action... and cowbell.  Yes, cowbell.  Violent cowbell. I stripped it down to the bones and moved things and rewrote and revised and by the end of August, I was done--even though I knew I wasn't. It didn't feel complete. It was better, but it wasn't done. I sent it off to Sarah with a "Better?" email, hoping she'd be able to direct me.  It looked like this:

Holy frijole, Wendy!  It's all red!  Yes, that's because I realized that I started off by telling about this traumatic event that had happened (her dog's death) instead of showing the event.  In retrospect, I don't know why I did that. When you have a traumatic event, you don't throw it in the background and describe it as "this thing that once happened earlier today."  Just FYI. Anyway, I knew it wasn't done. I just knew it wasn't. It wasn't a surprise when Sarah agreed.

At the beginning of September, Sarah started getting back to me with notes on how to do another revision. There were some line edits that I whined about.  There were also a lot of notes in the form of "What ifs..." and they were brilliant. They were just what I needed.  I did another revision, focusing on a new character and the later chapters. I finished that last night and sent it off to Sarah. I'm not completely sure it's done, but the novel has changed drastically since before the summer. It feels done, but Sarah will be able to tell for sure if I've finally nailed what the feedback was getting at. If not, we'll go back at it again with more cowbell until it says Moo.

Most pages, if the changes are tracked, look a lot like this when compared to April's version of Secrets of Skin and Stone:

It's at 87K now. I cut entire chapters and moved other chapters to a different location.  It's been the most brutal revision I've ever done, and I couldn't have done it without Sarah because I couldn't have seen the possibilities on my own. It's interesting to see entire pages of red that are either entirely new or entirely cut. There's something deeply satisfying about seeing a novel emerge from words strung together. The focus is very different from where it was in April. The voice is hopefully the same. Both are worlds away from that first draft with the awful-awful-awful name a year and a half ago.

So, there you go, there is the evolution of this book up to last night. *fingers crossed* that it'll be less brutal revisions in the upcoming weeks.

One thing is for certain, that book is not the book I started with--it's much better.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Standardized Testing and the Non-Standard Kid

As most of you probably know, B has been diagnosed with both Autism and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but she is fully mainstreamed, and the school dropped services for her right after Kindergarten because, among other things, her IQ was too high. Her teachers have definitely filled in any gaps this might have caused and been all around awesome.  B has thrived and regularly gets awards for citizenship as well as academics.  Her teachers have said she is the best math student in their class every year. It doesn't, however, change these disorders that hide under the surface. The teachers adjust and learn to accommodate. We adjust and learn to accommodate.  Most of her peers probably don't know she has Autism; though, some sense that she is different and either gravitate towards her because she's sweet or try to bully her. 

Last year, B's fourth grade teacher brought up a concern at Parent/Teacher conference.  Though my daughter's creative writing is exemplary, the teacher said B is struggling with technical writing. When presented with technical writing, B tends to list things rather than keep to the accepted protocol for a paragraph. As a fiction writer, my first thought was, "And?  What's the problem?  Technical writing is boring."  The reality is that, of course, technical writing is the bulk of your schooling output.  (*whispers* It's still boring.)  We discussed how she was presenting the assignments and the wording of the assignments and how it might be perceived by a very literal child with Autism and OCD.  The teacher began rewording things and B's understanding of what was expected increased. 

Then came the standardized testing.  The government program No Child Left Behind has made standardized testing into a monster lurking in every teacher's closet.  It's all they talk about in class for the last quarter of school. All. They. Talk. About. Parents are sent home notes about how to help their children prepare for the testing days. (Getting enough sleep, eating breakfast, and so on.)  These tests are made out to be the beginning and end of all testing. Schools get closed or students can be sent to other schools if a school's overall scores aren't high enough--so schools take these tests very seriously. This means a very literal child will also take the scores very seriously. 

B got her scores back last Friday in a sealed envelope which she excitedly brought to me.  She'd told me over and over throughout the summer that she just knew she'd gotten everything right on the math portion.  I kept telling her, "You might have missed some."  She'd give me a serious look and say, "No, I didn't. I checked my answers." I'd respond, "It's okay if you missed some.  Sometimes it's hard to understand directions." B would blink and say, "I didn't get any wrong. I checked my answers."

I opened the envelope, and stared... and stared.  First of all, her math and reading scores were listed as advanced (though she did miss some on the math test despite "checking.")  On the other hand, her writing score was listed as "not passing." My daughter was watching me with excitement so I said, "Sweetie, you rocked the math portion!" "I got them all right, didn't I?" "Not quite, but close." I hoped she wouldn't ask about the rest, but B isn't like that. "How about Reading and Writing?" "You did really well in Reading too!"  "How about in Writing?" "Not quite as good, but that's okay." She wandered off, satisfied with my answers, but I've just been upset since. 

I don't care about the score to be honest.  I know my daughter can write, and her teachers are aware she has circumstances which will mean directions need to be worded in a certain way, and they can't expect her to learn in the same way as her classmates. Teachers accommodate. The world in general accommodates. Tests don't. 

What offends me to my soul is that an autistic child's scores will be taken at face value, and a school's funding will be based on the fact that she failed a standardized testing section. Theoretically, her school may receive less funding because they have a Special Needs child and because a test wasn't worded in a way that an atypical child can understand. It boggles the mind that THIS is the monster that No Child Left Behind has created. THIS was meant to ensure that no child was left behind.  

When B was in Kindergarten, she shared an aide with another Autistic child.  When Kindergarten ended, the administrators decided that the other child's needs were too much for them to accommodate, and that B was no longer in need of specialized attention. The other child was sent to a special school though he'd previously been considered a good candidate for mainstreaming.  B was sent on to her first "full day" year without even an aide in with her.  Why?  Because there isn't the funding for individualized attention. Why isn't there the funding?  Because of a super special program called No Child Left Behind which caters to kids who are typical and test well. 

Standardized testing has hurt my children time and time again.  My daughter was given an IQ test in Kindergarten.  An IQ test in Kindergarten.  Her IQ was too high for her to receive individualized attention.  We complained that Autism is a social disorder, and they replied that such needs weren't the responsibility of the school AND COULDN'T BE TESTED. 

What has happened to our society that the only proof we deem worthy and the only success we measure is found in numbers?  If it isn't in the numbers, it doesn't exist.  It was what they said when they took away my son's services even as they were telling me he needed to be kept in services, but it would be my responsibility.   "I'm sorry. He really needs these services, but the numbers just aren't there." 

Standardized testing on non-standardized kids doesn't work.  How do you explain a child who scores highly-advanced in reading and math, but fails in writing?  Perhaps it wasn't the child but the test that failed. Maybe it wasn't even the test that failed, but the people who have elevated that test to be an indication of success.  Perhaps all of us fail just a little bit when numbers become king like this and needs of individuals are lost in the process. 

I don't have any answers, but I know those right answers won't be found in bubbles on a scantron sheet. 

If you've never seen Matt Damon's speech on standardized testing, it's brilliant and you should really check it out here. You'll want to go find him and hug him. 

Thanks for listening to me rant about this.  I wanted to cry when B looked up at me and asked about her writing score.  Some moments aren't fair... and that was one of them. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Crowded Room

I know. Two posts about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in a row. It's madness, I tell you! Madness!  And when it comes to OCD it really is actually.

I'll start off by mentioning this actually does apply to writing. I'm revising Secrets of Skin and Stone again and Piper has severe clinical OCD just like I do.  It's been hard for me to write and work on her chapters at times because it strikes too close to home.

I said something to my agent recently that probably ought to be said to the world at large. OCD is 80% or so internal. Some people with the most severe symptoms of OCD aren't recognizable as having OCD.  I think most people would have been able to guess my mother has OCD before they pegged me.  My mom is OCD about cleaning... which is the physical manifestation that most people expect. I don't have that.  I like things in a certain way, sure... and if the house magically became clean, I'd like that too... as long as everything was in the right place and there was order.

Still, OCD is mostly in your head--which is funny, in my opinion, but I have a broad sense of humor. (Btw, I wouldn't say that to anyone out loud; they might take it wrong.)

Living with OCD is like being in a crowded room.  A very, very, very crowded room and everyone is talking at once.  It's filled with versions of yourself, some older and some younger and some strange variations on you with deeper or higher pitched voices (I have no idea why.)  They shuffle around so that sometimes, amid the fog of voices, some are more recognizable because they're closer to you.

There's one person nearby who spends all day everyday muttering, "This, not that.  This!  Not that!  This, or maybe this, but not that... never that." All day.

There's the paranoid jittery soul to the side who keeps bringing up how dangerous or dirty everything is. "You know, you really should stay inside.  There are bugs out there.  Plus, odds are that someone is out there.  It might be someone who hates you and wants to kill you."  Usually, I tell that person to shut up, but they keep talking regardless.

There are three or four constantly talking about kids and family. "Have you sent a card or talked with your grandparents lately?  No, you haven't.  What if something happened to them?  What if they died and didn't know you loved them?  What then?  You're a horrible granddaughter." "Have you checked your daughter's folder to see what she is doing in class yet?  She's away from the house for hour upon hour every day, and it's like you don't even care what she is doing.  She's practically being raised by the school, and you don't care." "What about your son?  If you didn't let him do that, maybe he'd be less angry." "What about your sister?  How is she doing?  You don't even know, do you?  It's been days. Days!" "Have you ever thought if maybe you cleaned more that your husband would like you better?  You'd be a better wife.  I bet he wishes he'd married someone who likes to clean." "If only you were more like your mother...."

Constantly. Talking.

Some worry about friends, real and online. "Did you offend them when you said that thing?  It might have been taken wrong."  "Have you noticed they haven't talked to you for awhile?  They might hate you."

There's one on the constant lookout for typos. That one triple checks everything I write by reading it out loud which is useful... sort of.  That person sometimes insists I open envelopes to make sure I've signed the checks I just put in there.  That's less useful.

There's a couple voices that are much darker.  Hopefully they just fade into the background noise, but they usually get closer at the worst times.  One of the symptoms of OCD is being plagued by inappropriate sexual or religious or violent thoughts.  Yeah, I have those too.  Imagine sitting in church trying to concentrate and something so deviantly sexual slides right next to you and whispers.  Or you're in your car with your kids and driving and your mind suddenly focuses on how easy it would be to drive off the road.  Sometimes, it's hard to be in church.  Sometimes, it's hard to drive.  Even if you push it out of your head, it's left behind a bit of darkness because it was there.  It was there, and you thought of it, so you must be dark and evil too.

My muse is there too.  My muse may be the one person whose voice and looks I can't peg down. He or she usually stares out the window and throws out comments of "what if...." If I can, I'd love to sit next to my muse all the time.  My muse usually isn't as strange and chaotic.

I have individual phobias who wander around. There's the one who spends all day worrying that it's too tight or too close in the room. I have an extreme contamination issue so naturally there is one muttering, "You should wash your hands.  You may have gotten that on them.  Did that person just cough?  That's disgusting.  Go wash your hands." I was at a meeting last night and everyone kept coughing. That person was very squigged out--not that I blame them.

There is one who is like the physical manifestation of the song, "Baby did a bad, bad thing." All day there is someone who keeps mentioning every bad thing I've ever done.  This voice is especially vocal at night when I'm trying to sleep. So you can get a better idea of what this is like:

...only less sexy and with less film use.

I've been on a lean protein, low carb diet for almost three weeks now, so I also have this gollum-like person in the corner saying, "Bread... bread... we wants it, my precious.  We neeeeeeeeds it."  I mostly agree with that voice, though.

There are some rational voices, of course, but having them talking is sometimes frustrating because they're just adding to the noise. Also, my rational voices tend to be pessimistically rational, so that's not as helpful either.

All day, every day... this crowded room is in my head. I take it wherever I go. I can't get away from it. I'd assumed everyone had this fog of voices in their heads all the time, but then I found out that this is an OCD thing--at least with how crowded it is.

The meds quiet it down and get rid of a few voices, but they also have serious side effects. I've been off meds for a year, but I don't think I'll be able to be off them much longer. Some voices have been crowding out others and some are louder right now. Usually they mostly quiet down enough so I can hear my muse immediately after running or... uhh... other physical exertion. Sometimes, when I'm writing I can get out of the room and get into the world I created. That's really nice.

That's part of why Piper's chapters of this book are so difficult to work on.  She has twice the inner dialogue of Gris and that alone is too close to my real life.  It's nice to be in someone else's head for a change and work on Gris's chapters.  It's nice to be out of the crowded room.

Anyway, that's what life is like when you have severe OCD.  It's a crowded room.

Edited to add: I hid my OCD for the first 28 years of my life and while my mom has OCD and many in her family do, they hadn't realized it and none are as severe as I am--to my knowledge.  My mom feels really guilty she didn't catch that I had OCD until I told her, but I don't blame her, and I never have.  I began to be very open about my OCD when B was diagnosed, and I realized that I never wanted her to hide her OCD or be ashamed as I was.  I chose to be ashamed, and I chose to hide it.  My family never did anything to make me feel either of those things.  In a way, the fact that I had OCD is an incredible blessing because I'll be able to help my daughter.  I know some people with disorders are a product of their upbringing or their family life may have contributed, but I have the best family a girl can have. Honestly.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


For many of you the fact that I'm obsessive about things seems obvious in light of the fact that you know I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but you might not have noticed my obsessions as they've played out... or maybe you have.

Obsessions with OCD are very strange.  It builds.  I eat and breathe something, spending hour upon hour on it; my life revolves around it.  It's all I think about.  I itch when I'm not doing it. It's the magnet, and I'm the metal, and it's pulling me toward it--all day--all night.  I need it like an addiction.  I have to finish it.  I have to complete it.  My life... my sanity depends on me finishing it. Then I finish, and I'm done. Sometimes I walk away, and I'm fine. Sometimes I never pick it up again. Ever.

Remember my Angry Birds phase?

I played Angry Birds until my battery ran out, and then I'd plug it in and hunch over it near the wall even though it wouldn't run quite right on a low battery.  I stayed up until 4 a.m. one night playing Angry Birds.  It was all I could think of.  It consumed me.  I had to make it to the next level and the next, and I had to finish them.  It was a rush inside me that built and built.  Nothing mattered as much as completing levels.  I didn't care about how many stars.  As long as I finished, I was good.  I played everywhere.  I missed sleep.  I forgot to eat.  Nothing mattered as much as Angry Birds.  Then, I finished all the levels... and it's been two or three weeks since I've played.  It doesn't matter.  I can't even understand why it was that vital to me.

This is how my life has played out.  A new obsession.  A new manic energy to finish at all costs.  Stress makes it worse.  Illness makes it worse.  I will push myself to crazy ridiculous lengths to complete or finish whatever my latest obsession is.  Then... I walk away, and it never has that same draw on me again.

Some of my obsessions have been more expensive than others.  I'm sure my husband wasn't as concerned about my Angry Birds phase.  Some of my obsessions have been hobbies like beading.  When I start something like that I need a lot of options.  I need choices--lots of choices laid out in front of me.  I manically collect everything I might ever need.  Then, it fades and I'm left with a load of expensive beads that are merely interesting and not my heart and soul anymore.

These last two weeks I've been obsessed with watching all of the Psych episodes.  Every night I've watched five or six episodes in a row.  It's hard to stop watching and go to bed.  I don't want to.  Last night, I finished.  It's so strange.  It's like coming up out of the water and realizing there is an entire world around you that continues. It's as if I'm coming out of a fog.

When I'm on OCD medication, sometimes I can walk away from an obsession. When I'm not, I've learned that I won't be able to stop until I finish it... so I work on finishing it. Inside my head, I'm thinking, "Wendy, this is nuts... you have things to do... you can't spend all your time doing this. Stop!"  I can't stop.  It's one of the absolutes: I can't stop.

One of the recent constants in my life is obsessive writing.  When I start a WIP, the momentum is all-consuming.  I'll sit down and write for hours and hours.  Sometimes I'll write for 12 hours every day for a week.  I can't sleep.  I don't care about food.  I'm certainly not going to clean.  The only thing that matters is getting the story down on paper.  Nothing else matters.  Nothing.  Writing is one of the few times when I like the obsession.  I like the manic energy.  It creates a product, an object--something to show for my obsession.  I wish I had the same manic energy for revision.

On the other hand, in the middle of a WIP, sometimes I average about 2-3 hours of sleep a night.  I can't concentrate on my kids' needs as much.  It's hard to focus.  Sometimes, I dream about my characters, and I wake up confused as to which is reality.  (Luckily, I can figure it out... but it's disconcerting for even a moment to think I've gone that deep into my fantasy world.)

I've had other writers envy how prolific I am, but it scares me sometimes.  At one point, after too many obsessive writing periods overlapping, I just wanted more than anything for my mind to be blank. Control is very important to me... and I'd lost control of my mind.  It scared me.  Luckily, these revision projects have broken it up so the obsessive writing hasn't taken over as much as it did that first year.

Obsession is a scary thing.  Unless you've been there... you can't imagine how intense it is.  You can't walk away without feeling like it would kill you.

So, tonight, I'm officially done with that obsession, and it's left me wondering: what next? What is the next thing that will devour my soul?

Maybe I'll be able to finish this revision on Secrets of Skin and Stone before the next wave sweeps me out to sea.  I hope so anyway.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Internet is Forever

This post might strike you as the ramblings of an extremely paranoid person, but this has been on my mind this week--and it's a passive aggressive way for me to deal with my reactions this week, so forgive me as I ramble.

I've been back on Twitter trying to catch up in my relationships with people and get more involved after the summer swamped me.  A good portion of people I follow are writers and those who aren't writers are good with words... I know that because, otherwise, I wouldn't follow them.  I don't generally unfollow anyone I initially follow so I take a good hard look at people's feeds before I follow them. I look for severe use of profanity, overuse of text speak, poor grammar (I'm sorry but I do... my OCD will kill me otherwise), inappropriate content, solely self-promotion, negativity, frequency of updates, whether they interact with followers, how likely they are to follow me back or stay following me, and so on. I judge them.  That's right, I judge them.  If I follow your blog or follow you on twitter, I've judged you. I don't use a program.  When it comes right down to whether I invite someone's words into my day, I go with my gut... with my emotion... and I judge them to be worthy or not.  Most of the time, I don't give people a second look to change that impression. The old adage that you have one chance to make a first impression is true even on the internet.

The internet and Twitter are packed with people.  I don't need to follow anyone because there aren't other people available. There are always more people.  More people join Twitter and get on the internet every day, but what you've JUST said... that's what you're being judged on... or maybe they did a search and it's what you said yesterday... or three years ago... the internet is forever after all, and you've just been judged. Maybe the bulk of people who judge you won't matter at all.  Maybe one will.  You can't know which.

There is always someone watching you on the internet. If you're a writer, that person might be your future agent, editor, or your future reader.  So, if you're on Twitter spreading vitriol because you're feeling cranky--it's 3 a.m. and you're still awake, it doesn't matter.  It's the middle of the night, right?  It's NOT 3 a.m. everywhere.  The internet is a 24 hour/7 days a week venue.  Even if you delete those Tweets, you haven't deleted them.  They can be found.  If nothing else, the Library of Congress has been nice enough to keep copies of all tweets.  If we've learned nothing else from celebrity scandals lately, you should know that anything you put out there can't be snatched back--even if you really, really want to.  The internet is forever.

This week there was an article in Publisher's Weekly that hit Twitter like a lit match in dry brush.  It was "supposedly" about two YA writers who were asked by an agent to remove a character who was gay.  The initial response from agents that I saw was complete and utter surprise because they'd never heard of such a thing.  Editors were the same way.  I read the article and just kept thinking of how many times I'd heard the opposite... of agents and editors requesting novels like that.  It felt wrong.  So, I just watched it go nuts all around me, and I felt somewhat bad for not participating, but I just kept thinking, "I don't think it's true.  I think they sensationalized a lie." Yesterday, it turned out not to be true.  While that hasn't spread quite as quickly... tomorrow it'll still be a lie. Next week, it'll still be a lie.  It'll forever be a lie on the internet, and several people who jumped on the pyre to rage with these poor, maligned authors now despise them for lying to everyone. The internet is forever, and mobs love to grab pitchforks.

I've been trying this week to get information off the internet about me.  It's not bad information, but it's information.  Most of you know how intensely I guard the privacy of my kids.  My kids' Autism makes them vulnerable, and my responsibility as a parent is to protect them.  I don't want my desire to have a public profile and to be on the internet to negatively impact them. I'm afraid to be on Facebook because I know people from our church or friends might not think anything of taking pictures of my kids and tagging them with their names. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get something off the internet once it's there?  I already knew that, but it's been ground into my brain this week.  It's like letting go a bag of feathers in a windstorm and hoping to gather them all up.  One site takes it and passes it to the next and to the next and to the next. Anything you put on the internet can be passed on like an endless game of telephone.  It's a runaway train.  It's a raging river of information.  The best thing is to never put that information out there if you don't want it distributed.  The internet is forever, and it's often malignant, and what you write will spread.

This week, my blog started giving malware warnings for a brief amount of time.  My blogroll followed other blogs who followed another blog who'd been attacked by hackers.  It trickled back through the blogs back to mine.  It was interesting to see that as broad as the internet is--there are groups that are not.  In the writing community, we're all connected if you're trying for an online presence.  If you think there isn't a chance that your blog or your tweet won't be seen by the person you're talking about, you're wrong. There is always that chance. I remember once upon a time I asked for advice on which YA books to buy based on whether they had profanity or sex in them.  At the time, I didn't know the authors but I'd seen the covers of the books and read the blurbs and been intrigued.  It was kind of a shock to see one of the authors had responded himself to tell me about the content in the book. Once upon a time, I was also discussing the content of the book Shiver on Twitter and Maggie Stiefvater jumped in to discuss it. The internet is big... but google can make it as small as a corner cafe.

We tend to feel a certain anonymity as we type away on our keyboards at wherever we are.  There's a disconnection when you can't see the results of your words on someone's face.  Sometimes we forget that words can hurt.  Sometimes we think no one is reading.  It doesn't matter if no one is reading it today, though.  It doesn't matter if no one is reading it tomorrow.  Yesterday, I stumbled across something someone posted in 1993 when the internet was still relatively new (in the capacity it exists today.)  Eighteen years ago, that person had that opinion.  I'm not sure if they still do today, but it doesn't matter... because the internet is forever.  Your words will eventually be read.  For better or for worse, they will be read.  Maybe they'll be read by the audience you'd intended and maybe not.  How would you feel either way?  It takes very little effort to be kind and to say nice things.  Sometimes it's hard to control your temper but some words are better left unsaid.  The officiator marrying my husband and I advised us to not say anything in anger that you'll wish you could take back because you won't be able to. Just like in real life, once you say something--it can't be unsaid.

The internet is a big world.

The internet is a small world.

It's full of people, but it's full of individuals.  The opinion of one single person can make a difference.

The internet is forever.

Unless, of course, the machines or zombies take over; in which case, it's every person for themselves. ; )

Monday, September 12, 2011

Back into the Fray

Oy, once again, I seem to have forgotten to keep up with my blog. I don't know how other writers who are parents manage to get it all done. I'm really struggling to find the hours while still allow for down time at night to recover from the day. My kids have only been in school since last Wednesday so maybe I'll start to find more hours for social networking endeavors and writing.

So, Sarah got back with line edits on the first eleven chapters of Secrets of Skin and Stone's revision but the remaining thirteen are going to take more than line edits... which is sort of what I felt when I finished them. It's a complicated emotion this whole revision thing.... On the one hand, you want it to magically be done and perfect, but when you know it's not... you don't want your agent coming back and telling you that it is.

September might be another month spent on revisions. Possibly October. I hope not October.

Diana, early on, told me to learn to love revising because I'd be doing a lot of it. I won't say I absolutely adore this later revision process. I do like reading it the first time after it's complete almost as much as I enjoy the creation process. I'm okay with revisions, though, and it's a good thing because Diana was right. Holy cow, writers spend a lot of time doing revisions.

So. Much. Time.

Someone asked me how many times I'd revised Secrets of Skin and Stone, and I have no idea at this point. There have been major revisions... and I've done four or five of those. There have been endless amounts of smaller revisions where I'd read through it and catch smaller things.

So. Many. Revisions.

I'm approaching my third year anniversary of finishing my first novel, and I'll have been on Twitter for two years at that point. There are a ton of writers out there. A ton. There are a lot on Twitter. Finishing a novel is hard but you learn so much along the way. Revising is the same way. A writer who doesn't write is not a writer. A writer who doesn't revise will never improve. I have improved and continue to improve, and it's a process that your writing needs... that you need.

Anyway, this blog post feels rambling when all I really planned on saying is that I'm back to working on revisions.

As far as the kids go, they're both loving school, but T's sensory system is very touchy, and they've both managed to pick up their first colds already. (Gotta love the school's petri dish.) B is in a class with my best friend's son, and she loves her teacher. I think this is going to be a good school year. *fingers crossed*

So... back into the fray... *opens Word document* *battle cry ensues*