The Dangers of thinking about Publishing too soon

I watched the last episode of season five of Supernatural last night. (Again!) A character called Chuck, who is a prophet and writes what he sees, that being the adventures of Dean and Sam, talks about endings. He says-

‘Endings are hard. Any chapped-ass monkey with a keyboard can poop out a beginning, but endings are impossible.’

Ending my first book was easy. I don’t know what a ‘chapped-ass’ monkey is, but, whatever it is, I must be a lesser creature. I can’t poop out a beginning that I’m fully happy with. Even marginally happy with.

But endings? I find endings easy. In fact, the last page of my first book has never and will never be edited. It doesn’t need to be. It arrived on the page in a ray of perfection. For those of you who know I’m writing a series, two of them actually, you might be thinking ‘yeah, but that’s not really the end, is it?’

No, it’s not. But I have written the end of the entire series too.

See? I’m good with endings.

So when I reached the end of my first book, and a full stop was sitting at the end of that perfect ending, well, naturally I was feeling pretty damn epic. I’m going to go ahead and say godly. Or goddessly…

Of course, it’s really thousands of words before the end that thoughts of what’s next creep in. When you can see the end in the distance, who can help look beyond? And who knows, when it’s their first book, that they shouldn’t peak past the finish line?

Writing is a rainbow, and publishing is the pot of gold that might be at the end. The problem is that pot is back on the ground. The rainbow is up in the air, away from the world. It’s colourful and beautiful and truly miraculous. It’s basked in sunlight and bordered by rainclouds at the same time. But once you look at that pot, you begin to descend. You leave that writing heaven. You’re on the downward slope, and the world pours back in.

But a rainbow is a curve, isn’t it? So you start at the bottom and scene after scene carries you up and over. Surely the last chapters are on the downward slope, and the end is at the end?

The end is not the end.

You think you’re finished your book? Think again. There are several hundred types of ‘finished’ in writing. First draft, rewrite, edit number one, edit number two…

Writing the book, beginning to end, is the easy part. Finishing it is easy. Especially when perfect endings line the page. But having it be finished?

Finished, as in nothing else to do?

Finished, as in ‘here you go, Mr. Agent, three chapters, and the rest is waiting.’

Finished, as in a request for the full manuscript is like waiting for the results of an exam you know you aced.

Finished, as in you think about your book and your mind sighs with happy, proud, relief.

Would knowing just how hard it is to get published help you get there? Would knowing the statistics, the facts, the hard truths, really propel you towards that ultimate finishing line? Would knowing what is and is not wanted, what’s hot in the market, what’s commercial, be of any benefit at all?

Would knowing just how amazing your book has to be help you reach your potential?

I don’t think so.

Lines that were once so clear get twisted. Suddenly you’re half trying to mould your book to what the market wants. Even though, really, who knows what the market is going to want in the future? Is the market predictable? I mean, who saw Harry Potter and Twilight coming? Wizards and vampires? Really?

By the time you’d be ready to hop on the ‘what’s hot’ train, it would have passed. And you’d be left, standing alone in a wasteland, clutching your out-of-date ticket. Or not alone. Surrounded in isolation by the thousands who missed it too.

For me, my stories were set. I snubbed all manner of trains. But what happened to me, when I thought about publishing too soon, is the words dried up. You learn rules you didn’t want to know. Like adjectives are the devil, description is death and ‘telling’ is torture. Between the odds and the rules there’s no room left for writing.

And here’s the kicker.

You weren’t finished writing. You really weren’t. There was so much more to do. Parts to flesh out, sections to cut, scenes to write in. There were knots to untangle, holes to fill, new depths to be dug. So right after the first writing of your book is a terrible time to lose the ability, or dare I say the will, to write.

There is a time to explore the publishing world. Time to eye-up that pot of gold, throw it wink and eyebrow waggle. That time is after your first full edit. After the rewrite, if you need one. After you’ve made your book everything you wanted it to be.






The not so Weird and Wonderful

You know when you do something and you feel it’s a little… “out there”?

That is; “out there in the world of slightly strange, but still on the right side of socially acceptable”.

This action makes perfect sense to you. Compete, beautiful, beaming sense. And the thing is, you don’t want someone to tell you that it’s perfectly normal; nay, rational. Because somehow, the world thinking it’s weird (and we do know what the world thinks) makes it special. It’s special in its weirdness.

But then, like a wet leaf blown into your face on a windy day (it has happened) you tell someone  about this little morsel of prised weirdness. And they nod, finding it reasonable.

Poo. Reasonable is boring. Not the work of an eccentric closet-genius.

How disappointing.

Basically, I did something that makes perfect sense.  It really isn’t that singular…I wish it was!

All I did was pop all writing files onto a hard drive and then restored my Dell laptop to factory settings.

I installed only Microsoft Word, the rest of Office got left out. I rearranged the start menu, pinned word to the taskbar, then returned my writing files and placed them in optimal places. Voila!

Dedicated writing laptop.

It is beautiful. And not that weird right? Especially since it’s not my sole computer.

But I don’t feel fully complete.

I want to go further. You see, factory settings=a lot of things already installed. So that you can turn on your new laptop, maybe install Microsoft Office, and behold! Ready to go. Ready to go to do a bunch of very basic things. So that people like me, who don’t use their laptops to hack nasa, who only work on Windows (unless it’s a mac, though sometimes even then), can actually use it.

That’s all well and good.

Or at least it was. I bought my laptop for writing. I bought my netbook for writing too. And they both got a little cluttered. In fact, they came cluttered. Filled with things I don’t need. At least not on two.

So how much can I remove? At what point it the laptop crippled? See, I don’t want constant updates. I don’t want to download and install this, that, and the other. I don’t want a hundred processes happening or dozens of programs. I know I sound like an old lady, but I’m craving a little simplicity here. Isolated simplicity; I can do all non-writing things on the Mac or the netbook.

How far can I go? Is it even possible to remove something your laptop really needs?

Wouldn’t it be glorious to open your laptop and be sucked into your writing world? Firstly because you want to be there, but secondly because, really, there is nowhere else to go.

I have decided that it would indeed beglorious.

So if anyone can advise me about further laptop clear-outs, go wild!

And if anyone has done something to aid their writing that actually is weird and wonderful, do share!