Taking the first step

Need to write a scene filled with heart-clenching fear? Want to feel that shivery sweat and shaking breath?

No problem!

Here’s what you do- think about taking the first step.

And what is the first step? Well obviously writing the…precious creation? Sum of all imaginative works? Epitome of literary wonders? Doesn’t ‘book’ sound a little too drab now? People are writing books left right and centre. Once you peek into the circle they all float about in the word ‘book’ suddenly seems a little less grandiose.

Nonsense. You wrote, or are writing, a book.

This is big. Even if it’s big for a scary number of other people too.

Back to coming at my point from the side…

Living vicariously through our writing is either totally sad or totally awesome. Sad because, come on, get a real life. Awesome because your own scene has you in a twist.

Could it have someone else in a twist too?

(See how I crept up on that?)

But that’s how it happens. That outside-of-your-personal-writing-bubble thought sneaks in. And you think, you wonder, you almost sort of hope- is it just me? Am I the only one who likes this? Could mammy dearest like it? What about harsh best friend? What about the world?

The first step, the first toe-dip, into the world of publishing is letting someone read your work.

Your heart’s beating a little faster, isn’t it?

When it’s just you, there’s no censor. Sure you already know you’re half cracked. You know you have convoluted corridors leading to dark corners. You know you can be diehardedly romantic, deliciously sinister and unashamedly steamy. You’re not judging you.

But having the inner workings of your mind exposed? Gah.

The thing is, a book containing only what the author feels safe having the world read is going to be one hell of a bore. It would be nice and polite.

It would be-

‘How are you?’

‘I’m fine!’

Instead of-

‘How are you?’

‘I’ve just been reliving last night in my head, so I’m a bit turned on right now.’

That brings me to my first point- if you’re embarrassed about the content, it’s probably a good thing.

(If you’re dim-witted enough to scrawl truly embarrassing stuff, then you’re too dim-witted to know about it.)

The next thing is the writing.

Chances are you know your book is not ready.  It’s not done or finished or any other absolute that I don’t think can ever truly be applied to a book.

You hope that the reader will see past the not quite there yet straight to the masterpiece beneath. You’re afraid they won’t.

So, how do you press send?

Somehow you’ve moved from ‘would someone else like this?’ to ‘will you give this a read for me?’

You’re freaking out now. How do you prepare? You want a perfection brush that you can varnish every sentence with. Because as you panic, even though you were good enough to write the book, you sudden think that you just don’t cut it. You think you can’t make it good enough.

What do you do?

Read it. Read it out loud. Read it for things that don’t sound right. Read it to make sure that what you think you wrote is the same as what you actually did write. Read it for heart-gripping blunders. Read it for yourself, because you might be afraid to look at it for a while once it goes out.

And then shut your eyes.

You won’t have caught everything. It doesn’t matter. So you sometimes screw up and say’ threw’ instead of ‘through’. I’ve said ‘right’ instead of ‘write’ twice in this blog already. Whoever you’ve asked to read your work, be it someone you know or an online community, will not judge you on the odd slip. If you can’t write worth a damn it will be clear in every sentence. One wrong word won’t sway the verdict. But if you can write, if you really do know that ‘your’ is not ‘you are’, it will show. It will show in the work as a whole. A handful of mistakes will not throw your skill as a writer into doubt. If the person who is going to read your work is a writer too then they know how often those mistakes happen. And they’ll know how easily they hide from your searching eyes. They screw up too.

Now this is something I really want to stress.

Making excuses for your work. Lying. Just don’t, ok?

Like ‘it’s just the first draft’ (ahem, been over it six times.) Or ‘rough draft, just want to know if it’s worth the bother’ (it’s my beating heart; I’ve poured over it for days.)

Don’t.

Don’t say that you didn’t read over what you’ve sent them to read over. Don’t say it’s unedited. Don’t say it’s fresh from your fingers or hot off the printing press. (Unless of course it’s being sent to a friend and is the absolute truth).

You’re expecting them to read it and give you feedback. Don’t let them think you didn’t bother spending time on it.

Be brave. Be honest.

Don’t give excuses alongside your work.

What you should give alongside your work is anything you want them to look out for. Guide their feedback.

Feedback? How exciting! Or terrifying. Or both. That’s the next step- dealing with feedback. So if you have a suspense scene to write, save it for just before you open their reply!

For more posts about writing go here -> http://nomadnovelist.wordpress.com/

Onwards!

Changes come to me naturally. So much so that I wouldn’t call them changes. They’re more like progressions.

So, I’ve progressed.

For the last few years, the last eight years now that I’m thinking about, I’ve hated having things I had to do. Homework, assignments, projects; anything I wasn’t choosing to do. I didn’t like having to go anywhere either; school, collage, work. When it was in my power I often chose not to go (I went to work, I’m not that bad…ahem…)

I LOVED skipping days.

Staying at home, drinking tea, reading, painting, watching movies or episodes of a show in a row, in later years writing; it was bliss. I’d sip hot chocolate in a cafe and watch everyone who wasn’t ignoring the world walk by. I let the world move forward without me. I sat back and watched it go. I smiled and waved and laughed to myself.

Since leaving collage, and you can imagine collage and I didn’t get on too well, I’ve had the freedom I cravedl. And I have done things; things like writing books and singing in concerts and spending summers by the beach. Not a lot by any means, but it is precisely how I wanted to live.

I didn’t give myself goals with deadlines attached. I didn’t give myself anything I HAD to do. I did what I wanted, and somehow things got done that way.

Now I’m moving on from that.

Luckily I know what I want to do with my life. The main thing at least. If I didn’t know, I’d be a sad leaf on the wind instead of a happy one.

I want to write books, forever. And now it’s time for goals to that end.

But first, let me tell you the books I have so far.

A science fiction series: About Ara, a genetically advanced rebel, and Risk, the son of the man she’s fighting.

(One-liners are not my forte. You’ve got to tip-toe between secrets you don’t want to reveal and make it sound awesome at the same time. I fail.)

First book- 108k words. Finished (as in it has an ending) and edited. People have read it. I have to write new chapters two and three, rewrite two scenes, read it out loud and edit again.

Second book- The main document has 78k words, I think. Two documents have to be added, one is around 20k, the other around 30. All pieces have been read by my sisters, and read out loud and edited by me.

Third book- An assortment of scenes I couldn’t wait to write.

Prequel-Six chapters.

(You may have noticed my lack of titles. It’s a problem…this post by a fellow writer helped- http://www.imranwrites.com/2011/12/12/whats-in-a-title/)

Notebooks-About an immortal witch who decides to experience school

30k words.

The Dragon Blades (That’s a working title, is it just me or does it sound a bit shit?) –About…Um, ask again later. 

I mean, I know what it’s about. But I don’t know clearly enough to squish into a few words.

15k words.

That’s all!

So. Now that I’m charging forward, these things need deadlines and the likes, right? Right.

You may have noticed I didn’t do the whole float-through-life thing by half.

I don’t half do things.

So, goals have to be big and deadlines have to be near-impossible to meet.

This all sounds a bit new-year-resolution-ish, doesn’t it? It’s not. I’m not trying to get a head start and promises made to oneself and broken. I don’t pay enough attention to time to line things up like that. And if you wanted to do something, why would you wait until a new year? I mean, the earth’s orbit doesn’t really have a finish line and a new start.

Anyway!

The Goal.

(DUN DUN DUN)

My goal is to have the first book in the series complete, perfect, and ready to send out by the 3rd of January. Why the third? I like the number three.

‘Ready to send out’ includes the dreaded synopsis, the cover letter, and a pitch to round things off.

On the 3rd, and I’m nervous just thinking about it, I’m going to send it to three agents.

I’m taking this three thing too far I think…

But seven is my other favorite number, and there aren’t all that many agents taking sci-fi to begin with!

I was planning on waiting until the whole series was done so I’d be in complete control up until the end. But let’s face it, the process takes years anyway. And with my new-found desire to charge forward, the books will be done within…six months? A year?…I’m a deadline rookie, best not get ahead of myself.

And I’m going to blog about this venture at least three times a week everyday.

…I think I’ve lost it!