Tag Archives: Editing

Obtaining Feedback: A Query

In order to understand this post, I’m gonna need you to read this post. It’s by Chuck Wendig, who, if you’re familiar with his blog, always writes really awesome posts, told through colorful language, containing webs upon webs of wonderful tangents. If you don’t have time to read his entire post but what to know what I’m referencing in this post, just read his first bullet, titled 1. Fuck Your Critique Groups.

I read the entire post, most of which had me nodding. But it was that first bullet that really had me scratching my head and being genuinely perplexed. I mean, one, he admitted to not being a huge fan of Tolkien, so, you know…

Image result for uruk hai GIF

I’m just kidding, I was not that offended.

Image result for lying cat

Ahem.

Anyway. 

Aside from that revelation, I was really intrigued by Wendig’s discussion. Of course, when he writes about writing advice, he always offers the caveat that tells you to not just assume his word is law because he wrote it or that it will work for you because it works for him, because everyone and their process and writing style are different, so the shit and the advice that works varies. That makes sense. He also warned us that most of the advice he was about to give was labeled “unconventional,” so it wasn’t guaranteed to be popular opinion or belief. Fair enough. But he brought up a particularly interesting point:

And that’s chiefly the problem with a lot of critique groups — they understandably comprise writers, not editors. Their opinions on work are driven from the question of, how would I write this? which is analogous to changing how you have sex because some other weirdo gets off on different peccadillos.

Just ignore that last half (even though it’s hilarious in his post). Reading that, it was sort of like a “duh” moment for me. In the past year and a half, I started actively searching for beta readers and becoming a beta reader for some people. I’ve had some pretty good experiences, but it also made me realize that a lot of the advice I give is based off my own writing style and my own preferences. Which isn’t necessarily always the right call, especially in someone else’s manuscript. Hell, half the time, it isn’t the right call in my own manuscript.

So that leaves me with a question. A query, if you will.

How do I improve my writing?

Say Wendig is onto something and a critique group, if you’re not lucky enough to be in an awesome one that shares your vision and understands your story like you do and is able to point out the weaker points, isn’t the best call. How do you improve your story, after you’ve edited it so many times you either think the entire thing is glorious or you think the entire thing is shit, and another pair of eyes is what you need? Go to a professional editor, sure. But what if you can’t afford that? Do you just do the best you can, query it and hope it’s good enough? Or do you create a group with writers you respect and hope the feedback you get is useful?

Say you go the latter route and join a group. You get a bunch of feedback. How do you avoid the feedback that derails you utterly and ruins what, if you hadn’t received that feedback, actually could have been a really amazing thing? How do you learn to sort through and, to be blunt and honest about it, judge the value of the feedback coming your way and determine its matches your vision of your story?

I’m not really sure what the answer to this is.

Hell, like Wendig has mentioned before, I’m not sure if there even is a one-size-fits-all answer. Once again, it is a case-by-case determination, which I realize, isn’t really helpful. What I have determined, however, is I need to–always–write stories that I enjoy. I want to love my work, even if that work goes against the trend or doesn’t fit into the market. I want it to always be mine and true to my heart, no matter who, if anyone, I go to for advice and feedback.

I’d really love to hear some ideas that spurt from this, either from my post here or Wendig’s post, linked above. How do you navigate the editing waters?

Cheers.

Advertisements

Breakthrough or Bust

Whoa, friends.

I may be jumping ahead of myself, considering I’m still riding a holy-shit-I-think-I-figured-out-this-plot writer’s high after spending the past two hours outlining, but friends, I really do think I might have figured out the plot for my rewrite.

If you know me, I bet it’s come to no surprise that my standalone sci-fi tragedy has now expanded into a tragic trilogy, with the first two books completely mapped out–not half bad, considering what I had this morning, which was filled with holes, lacking in conflict and making me want to bang my head against the wall. Now, I have a steady base to go forward, a clear understanding of what’s happening, a closeness with my characters that makes me confident I can write them and make their motives clear, plus a revised plot that threads throughout the trilogy that makes my heart accelerate with giddy anticipation and excitement.

Sure, I still have no idea how to wrap up this trilogy, which might seem like a red flag to everyone, because yeah, usually the writer knows the end goal before she’s going to get there. And yep, I have no idea how this one is going to end. It’s set up so there is a lot of opportunity, but at the moment, I couldn’t tell you what will happen. Sure, there is still a lot that might change and maybe I’ll talk to my man about it and he’ll be like, “Babe, that’s actually worse than what you started with originally.” Or maybe I’ll write it and realize that it is complete shit and I’m in over my head and, even though it felt like a breakthrough, it actually was a bust.

But.

This afternoon, I pulled up my outline and then closed it half a dozen times, at a loss of where this story needed to go next or what I was meant to do with it. I went and did some other things, but I hated wasting so much time I had available to write and I wanted to figure this shit out. So I opened it again and kept trying. Half an hour went by without anything to show for it, but I kept going. I kept pushing, challenging myself and writing any idea that came to mind, erasing most of it by the end.

Until I had it.

It’s the closest feeling to an epiphany moment I can describe personally experiencing. One moment, I  was banging my head against the wall and the next, I had a plot twist that suddenly, helped everything else make sense. Reorder a few events in the first book and there the tension I was missing was; there, the opportunity to heighten it and make the first book feel like a real story, even if that cliffhanger ending might want to make readers, if I pull this off right, want to bang their own heads into a wall.

It may amount to nothing, but at the moment, hot damn, it’s a start. And a start is exactly what I’ll take, right now. Because I can run with this. I can create a story around this and, through a shit-ton of work, make this story work. 

So let’s get started, shall we?

Cheers.


Two Steps Back, A Million Steps Forward

Oh boy, do I have work ahead of me.

Remember reading this post, where I described my revelation of recognizing when you send a manuscript out too early to be read, because it’s still at the “this-book-is-shit” stage? Yeah, so I read through all of that beta feedback referenced in that post this afternoon and that status still stands.

As it sits right now, as a draft, THE RESISTANCE is, indeed, shit.

When I wrote that post, I felt really disheartened about that fact (and also embarrassed that I sent out such an shoddy example of my work). Knowing that mindset, I purposefully didn’t read through any of the feedback in-depth, because I knew it would either a) tear me apart or b) I’d feel really defensive and want to argue every criticism they made, becoming irrational and doing my betas a disservice.

Reading it today, in a much better mindset, having already accepted that my story is in its earliest stage and what my betas are claiming is most likely the truth, I could actually see the merit of my betas insight without taking it as a personal attack. I also realized another important thing.

So.much.revision.ahead.

I have a two page document filled with notes of things that I need to focus on. Namely plot, character and exposition. My main character was so passive, it drove my readers crazy and made them not care about him or his struggles in the slightest. They had no idea about his motivations or his drives and got tired of him being dragged around and forced to do things by other characters, instead of initiating anything himself. And there was no character arc, no growth, so by the ending, readers were left unsatisfied–not to mention that this was a straight-up tragedy, with no happy ending in sight.

Speaking of the ending, the dissatisfaction with the ending was also tied into my second main flaw: the plot. While I had the basic idea and conflict, the execution and finer details were desperately lacking. And the questions that my beta readers brought up, I couldn’t answer (hint: that’s a warning flag if I’ve ever seen one). Not to mention the specifics of the science and the magic system within it were…not present. A lot of plot holes. A lot.

Finally, there was the writing itself, which reflected my uncertainty of the plot and my unfamiliarity with the main character because it was overrun with exposition, constantly barraging my readers with info dumps and explanations instead of showing them what I wanted them to know and putting them in-scene. Not to mention I had two betas out of four who thought switching from third person to first person might be the better option.

I have so much to fix, so much to understand and so much to heighten that I got overwhelmed and wrote this blog post instead of getting started. However, I think writing this helped me get a better sense of direction.

First, I need to understand the plot. I need to understand the world, the mechanics, the conflict, the rationale, the stakes. I need to understand every angle and figure out what I’m trying to say with this book. Because that ending that everyone hated? I want that to stay. I really want to write a book where the ending that I have fits. But in order to do that, I need to make it still feel complete and rewarding while also heartbreaking.

But once I understand the plot, I can figure out the character that’s stuck within it. Figure out their past, their history, their quirks, their attitudes, their beliefs, their situation and then I’ll understand what they’ll do when I throw them into an apocalypse where 5% of the population is all that remains of the human race.

Once I understand the plot and the character and how they interact, I’ll map out the story. The beats. How we get from start to finish.

And then I’ll write it, which will be an interesting process, because I’ll mostly be starting out with a new draft–especially since I’m considering not only changing the POV, but also the gender of the protagonist–but I’ll also be salvaging scenes from the old one.

Plot. Character. Beats. Words.

A lot of revision ahead and lessons learned from this story, friends. Let’s hope I stay up to the task, hm?

Cheers.


Respect the Stages

I entered into Pitch Wars. Since, I’ve been trying (<— read, failing) not to just stalk all my potential mentors’ feeds and see if they say anything that resembles my book at all; trying (<— read, still failing) not to refresh my email every ten seconds in hopes that a request for a partial or a full might come through; trying (<— read, forever failing) not to get lost in the feed while glancing at my calendar and wondering why it isn’t August 25th yet. Those nervous, contest butterflies fueled by fragile threads and hope and anxiety are in full swing and it’s only been two days.

So, this morning, I thought, Hey. Instead of obsessing over a book you can’t do anything with at the moment, perhaps you should work on polishing up another novel? Hmm? 

When I made a call for beta readers for ARTEMIS last year, I also asked for betas for the only science fiction novel I’ve written, THE RESISTANCE, so that when I was done editing one, I could go straight into editing the other. I hadn’t looked at that feedback yet (because I wanted to look at it when I actually had time to implement it), so I figured that was as good a place to start as any. Look at the feedback, see how people felt about the novel, make an editing game plan, maybe start getting into the actual manuscript next week.

And then I read the feedback.

The consensus was clear.

The book sucked.

That was…hard to swallow, especially right now, when I’m pillaging through the teasers from the contest and that nefarious doubt is in the back of my mind, whispering lies like, You know your book isn’t good enough, why even hope at all? I didn’t read through the feedback in-depth, yet, just glanced through the general summations they gave, but the trend was the same: my main character was annoying and didn’t have enough to work for, the pacing was slow/off, the world-building was confusing, none of the characters had enough depth and the ending was disappointing, if not downright depressing.

Image result for hiccup you just gestured to all of me

Cool premise, though.

Seeing that kind of response, I immediately felt deflated. My stomach twisted in knots, an overwhelming wave of disappointment washing over me. My mind panicked, thinking about the other manuscript I’d just entered into Pitch Wars, one of the most prestigious and well-known Twitter contests you can enter. Had I just made a huge mistake? Is ARTEMIS truly as bad as RESISTANCE? Have I bitten off more than I can chew?

Before I let myself completely give into despair and woeful lies, I had to pause and recognize another emotion in the mix, buried beneath all of those questions and sick feelings of shame.

Non-surprised expectation.

Though I hadn’t glanced at that feedback before today, in the back of my mind, I knew it wasn’t going to be positive, in the sense that there would be a lot more constructive criticism than there would be praise. It’s not that the feedback itself is negative or that receiving only criticism is a negative thing (quite the opposite, in fact; how can we improve if we only experience praise?). It’s just that I knew RESISTANCE was not going to receive glowing reviews from my beta readers.

I knew without admitting it that book wasn’t ready for the eyes of others yet. That was only the first draft I’d written. Hell, haven’t even read it more than once. I hadn’t edited anything yet, hadn’t done anything to it beside try and get the ideas I had in my head down on paper in some sort of comprehensible fashion. In every sense, what I sent out to my beta readers was the worst possible draft I could have sent them. Yet I was putting out a call for my other book, so in my brain, I was like, Hey, why not get feedback on two books at once? 

That was a mistake.

Because both of those books were at different stages.

With ARTEMIS, I had written a draft and then went back through and edited it once myself. I know that may not seem like a lot, but trust me, that second read through makes a huge difference. I’d already worked out a lot of kinks that typically result from a first draft attempt before I sent it out to betas, whereas with RESISTANCE, all of those problems were still present. I hadn’t given RESISTANCE the time it needed and deserved to make it at least resemble a story, not just being the bare, confusing bones of one like all my first drafts are.

So of course my betas had tons of problems with every aspect of the book.

Similar to how I wasn’t surprised when there were more aspects betas liked about ARTEMIS than they found to critique about it.* And what they did critique was exactly what I needed, locating the places I was blind to, things I hadn’t even considered would need improving because I was at a loss as to how to make the story better, hence looking for an outside opinion.

With RESISTANCE, if I would have paused to really think, I could point out many of the same weaknesses my betas did. I was just so excited about the idea of someone else reading my work and offering feedback that I didn’t stop to consider whether my novel was ready for that kind of attention.

And for that mistake, my RESISTANCE betas, I apologize profusely. It was not my intention to waste your time and your feedback is valued to me. I will read through everything, thoroughly, and incorporate your thoughts into my next round of edits.

I learned a couple different things this morning, I think. The most important lesson was figuring out how to know when my book is ready for beta feedback–not only so I never waste anyone else’s time again, but also so that my book has the chance to benefit the most from another pair of eyes, i.e., if the obvious, glaring issues that I would have caught aren’t there, my betas can actually look for more complex, complicated issues to help elevate the story.

I have been reminding myself (and seeing the reminder in the Pitch Wars feed) that so many writers who entered are in different stages of their career, so I should stop comparing myself to them. Similarly to how, if I don’t become a mentee or, if I did become a mentee and didn’t become agented afterwards, I can’t consider that a failure when I look at those who did win or did become agented; because every journey is different and we’re all at different stages. Yet I was also reminded that I’m at different stages across my own works. 

I know that probably seems obvious. One book that has been undergone twelve drafts is obviously different than a book that’s only been written once. Yet, for a moment, I assumed that because RESISTANCE is still in such a bad shape, that obviously that means ARTEMIS sucks just as much. And that’s simply not the case, because I’ve put so much more work into ARTEMIS. Multiple rounds of revision, including a round implementing beta feedback. Not to mention that I understand that story so much more and feel so much more confident about it. My writing reflects that, whereas my writing in RESISTANCE shows my hesitancy and uncertainty I have for that narrative.

This is a really long post to basically say this: recognize the various stages your writing and your career are in and then respect them. Take the time to work on a novel to get it ready for betas. Rewrite as many drafts as you need to, to make it work. Don’t forget that your first draft usually sucks and that’s okay. It’s also okay if your tenth draft sucks. Every book is different. Every career is different. Focus on yours and doing everything you can to make it the best of your ability. Recognize your mistakes, admit them and then keep pushing forward.

And never give up. Our world needs your stories.

Cheers.

* When I say this, I’m not trying to come off as conceited and say that I assumed my book was so great, all my betas would love it. What I meant was that my gut was telling me ARTEMIS was ready for their eyes, whereas RESISTANCE was not.


A Change in Plans

Last year, I was on an amazing writing streak, writing four books between one November and the next. It was…mental, to be honest.

So when the new year started, my plan–my vision–was to do the exact same thing again. I had a sequel in one series to write, three new series to start, not to mention all the editing I needed to do with everything I’d written so far. The creativity was kicking, the productivity flowing. Books were going to be written, people. So many new books.

 things read need library feed GIF

As you may have intuitively guessed (or figured out, if you follow this blog), I haven’t written a single new book this year.

I even tried to write one. Got 50 pages in before I started over, deleting most of it. Then, got to 60 pages before I tabled a book for the first time. The words were just not flowing and even though I haven’t written it yet, I knew that story is too important to half-ass just to finish it. It deserve the best I can offer and I wasn’t giving that.

So I went and started editing ARTEMIS, my favorite book I wrote last year. And I wrote this post about some of the fears and roadblocks I had surrounding writing and how I’d been in a rut for so long. One of the points I made was that I felt like turning to editing when writing something new wasn’t working felt like cheating. Like I wasn’t actually writing, because I was simply revising words I’d already written.

Then, the lovely, inspiring and talented Melissa Caruso (who’s debut, THE TETHERED MAGE, comes out THIS OCTOBER *squee*) commented on that post and said this:

If it helps with the “Editing is not writing” mindset, I think editing is not only writing, it is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART. I did the very first draft of TTM in like 2 months and then spent… uh… a year editing it, on and off? Something like that. And there’s not much left of that first draft. It had to be done to get to the final, but it was the editing where I did most of my best work on it. I would be embarrassed to show you some of the crappy first try scenes! I used to hate revising, but now I see it as what it is—writing—and I kind of love it.

And if it helps you not give up… I can tell you FOR SURE that every book, every page, is getting you more XP to level up. I had to write, um, let’s go with “several” books before Naomi rescued me from the slush pile, and one more for good luck before getting a publisher. It’s worth the wait! The more books you write before The Book, the better The Book will be when you get there. You got this!

And friends, that has stuck with me.

I’m only 20 pages away from finishing this round of edits on ARTEMIS (and let me tell you, those last 20 pages are going to make me earn it). So many times, I have rewritten entire paragraphs, if not entire chapters.

That’s most certainly counts as writing.

Not only that, but I like to believe that a lot of the changes I’ve made have been improvements. There were entire scenes I skimmed over which, now that I’ve fleshed them out, makes the story so much stronger, so much more in-scene. I’ve given my characters more depth, made them more realistic. Even though I haven’t finished it yet, I feel like this third draft of ARTEMIS is so much stronger than what I started out with. And I actually was really proud of that first draft.

It made me wonder: how could I improve my other stories; stories which were the stepping stones that enabled me to have the tools, the courage and the gumption to write ARTEMIS in the first place? How could I use what I’ve learned editing ARTEMIS–not to mention the knowledge I’ve obtained and soaked in from other writers, editors and professionals in the field these past two years, becoming more involved in the writing community–to improve the stories that have sat on the back burner for so long?

My original plan was to try and write four new books this year. Now, I’ve decided to spend the rest of 2017 editing the books I’ve already written. After I finish ARTEMIS, I’m going to enter that manuscript into Pitch Wars. Then, I think I’m going to (*cough*finally*cough*) look at some beta feedback I got over THE RESISTANCE and give that book some desperate attention. Then, if I’m feeling really brave, I’ll return to Darryn and his story, told through the DESTINY OF THE DRAGON trilogy. I know that trilogy has a lot of work and while it’s a troped story that will probably never see the light of day, traditional-publication wise, I still want to make it the best story I can. I just love it too much.

 the joker GIF

Of course, plans can change. Maybe I’ll win Pitch Wars and spend the rest of 2017 fervently working on ARTEMIS (wouldn’t that be a dream?). Maybe I’ll finally figure out how to work around the blocks in Natanni’s story and return to have another crack at that. Maybe I’ll flesh out one of the other books I planned to write and get caught up in the excitement of a new story. I have no idea. But for now, I hope to continue to learn and appreciate the process that is editing, so that I can keep leveling up and writing the best stories I can in that given moment.

Because I really want to take up a spot on your bookshelf, one day.

Cheers.


#PimpMyBio: Pitch Wars 2017

Welcome, friends.

I’m new to both the Pitch Wars community and to this awesome #PimpMyBio blog hop, but I’m really excited to be a part of both. If you want to learn more about Pitch Wars, read this. If you want to meet some other fantastic writers participating in the blog hop, click here.

If you want to continue learning about me and the book I’m entering into the contest, you came to the right post.

The Writer 

My name is Nicole and I’m an Elven scout who’s actually really horrible at her job because I have no sense of direction and no survival skills whatsoever I’m a 24 year old nerd who only gets more quirky with age.

 cartoons & comics sorry dreamworks how to train your dragon httyd GIF

As far as writing goes, I wrote my first story in the sixth grade, where all the characters were my classmates and we had to fight skeletons with glowing red eyes with buckets of daggers. Flying pigs were also somehow involved. Thankfully, my imagination hasn’t stopped, but now my stories actually have real plots and characters and conflicts. I have five completed manuscripts: a YA fantasy trilogy about a destined chosen one who fails anyway and an Adult sci-fi standalone that pits the natural desire to fight for love against the innate instinct to destroy during the extinction of the human race. My fifth book, the first in a multi-book series, I’m entering into Pitch Wars (read about Artemis’s adventure down below).

I also manage three blogs: the one you’re reading now, which is my personal blog. I post about anything ranging from the latest writing woe (or wonder) to my quest for self-love to my video game obsession to my attempts (but usually failures) at adulting. I also write book reviews that discuss the experience of reading a book rather than the book itself over at Erlebnisse. Finally, me and three other writers post short stories at Muse in Pocket, Pen in Hand, which is a fairly new venture we started this year.

In the writing community, I try and stay active on Twitter (@thought_stained), with various degrees of success (I do have some Luddite tendencies that make me and social media not always on the closest terms). I participated in both #P2P15 and #P2P16, the second time making it on an editor’s shortlist (woo!). Currently, I’m the contest assistant for #ShoreIndie, which is a contest for emerging Indie writers to win free editing on a manuscript and guidance through the journey of self-publishing. I also intern remotely for Naomi Davis at Inklings Literary Agency, whom I absolutely adore and wish I could intern for permanently.

 how to train your dragon httyd hiccup GIF

The Story

When your stories are plagued with tropes, sometimes, the only way to beat them is to live them.

Artemis Smith is the walking representation of the starving artist trope. He’s old, works at a miserable job and has no family of his own, with only his service dog and rejection letters to keep him company. He’s never realized that his novels mirror the same problem his life exhibits: Predictable. Routine. Overdone.

When he meets a strange, blue-haired man outside the library, Artemis believes he’s only a new source for character inspiration. But when the man reveals that he knows not only everything about Artemis’s life, but also everything he does wrong in his writing—and holds the power to fix it—Artemis immediately jumps at the opportunity to escape his mundane routine and chase his publishing dream. He did not realize how literal that escape would be.

Transported into a fairy tale world as Terrowin, Artemis becomes torn as he not only faces deadly creatures, complicated codes of chivalry and an opinionated squire, but also the tropes attached to them. To escape the fairy tale, he must survive—and conquer—both.  

ARTEMIS SMITH AND THE VIRTUOUS MARRIAGE QUEST is an Adult urban fantasy. The idea sparked at my own frustration writing plots too overdone and filled with tropes to make it in today’s market, and it became, through numerous drafts, rewrites and beta readers, my favorite story I’ve ever written. 

I can’t wait to share it with you.

The Goal

My goal entering into Pitch Wars 2017 is to catch the attention of a mentor with a similar vision as mine; a mentor who loves Artemis and Terrowin as much as I do, but also sees ways to challenge them and make them even more real. A mentor who believes in my story and believes in me, who isn’t afraid to push me, doesn’t hesitate to point out areas of improvement or praise, and who is willing to not only help elevate my story, but help prepare it (and me) for the eyes of the world.

As a mentee, I can promise an old-fashioned work ethic, positive and prompt communication, a willing, patient ear, relentless optimism and dragon GIFs. In a mentor-mentee relationship, I’m hoping to form a bond that goes well past November, where we can continue to encourage, support and inspire one another to not only achieve our dreams, but to enjoy every moment as we do so.**

 tv how to train your dragon GIF

The Juicy Stuff

  • I have a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in film.
  • I work as a circulation supervisor at a library at my alma mater.
  • I believe dragons exist.
  • I’m straight-edge.
  • I’m obsessed with Tolkien and his works.
  • I have five tattoos and have no plans on stopping.
  • Video games are my social life.
  • I have a wanderlust that no bank account could ever sate (and certainly not mine).
  • Dogs are the best thing the world has to offer (especially Golden Retrievers).
  • My favorite cheese is extra sharp cheddar.

So…yeah, I think that covers the basics. Thanks for checking out my bio. If you’re entering PitchWars, tell me about your story in the comments (I’m working my way through everyone’s bios, but it’s gonna take me a while). And please say hello on Twitter, especially throughout the contest. I can promise you puke-level positive tweets (think unicorns and rainbows level support), random GIFs, your typical awkwardness and epic nerd out sessions.

 cartoons & comics how to train your dragon GIF

Cheers.

**Quick note to potential future mentors: I will be out of the country August 25th through September 11th (yay wanderlust sating!), which I realize is right at the beginning of the editing round (I made these plans a year ago, not thinking about any awesome contests I’d want to enter later). If I get on your radar, I hope this is something we can discuss, as though internet access isn’t planned at the moment, I could make things work if chosen (but also, that work ethic I mentioned? Yeah, I’d work my ass off to ensure those two weeks, if editing wasn’t an option, felt like I was still working the whole time).


Insights With Editing

I don’t think there is any “correct” way to edit your novel. You just gotta find what works best for you in that given moment or that given manuscript and continue to strive to create the best story you can.

That said, I’ve discovered some interesting differences editing ARTEMIS for the second time than my previous editing go-arounds.

The first comes thanks to the input from other writers, i.e., I sought help from beta readers. Last November, I sent my manuscript out with a questionnaire, looking for any sort of guidance and outside input to help enlighten this blind creator to the flaws and areas of improvement within her creation. I’d sought out opinions from others before, but never was I so organized or specific. Not only did I give a little more guidance as to what I was looking for, feedback wise, instead of the simple, “Do you like it?” generalization, but I also got opinions from five people instead of just one other person. And not from family members, either. Five fellow writers, all in different stages of their careers.

Their feedback has been invaluable.

Not only was I able to create a six page document of ideas and suggestions based off their advice, but I also made a copy of my manuscript, went through it and inserted all of their line edits. Every time I finish editing a chapter, I compare it to the chapter that I marked up based on their feedback. And almost every single time, the typos that I missed when I first sent out this manuscript, I missed again editing it myself, e.g., using lead when I meant led happened almost every time I use the word.

It never fails to blow my mind how often I’ll have these little mistakes and how I continually miss them, which is just one example of how important a second pair of eyes is.

The feedback from my betas, not only with the line edits, but the larger scale issues they pointed out, as well, has proven invaluable, as aforementioned. I don’t think I’ll go through editing a book again without seeking out betas to get a second (or sixth) opinion, but probably after I’ve had a chance to edit the book at least once myself.

The other major difference I’ve noticed doing these revisions is how I really do have to obey my moods in order to do this properly. Considering I’ve been in such a writing rut recently, I’ve been really focused on trying to write/edit every day to get back into the groove of things. Or finish so many chapters a week.

Sometimes, that desire to write consistently has taken away from the quality of the work I produced. Instead of actually editing and looking at the areas I needed to improve on in each scene (some things as minor as typos, others as grand as deleting and reworking entire sections), I was just trying to fly through the pages. I got through a couple of chapters before I realized that I needed to slow down and actually be willing to do the work.

Even if that meant on the days that I wasn’t willing, I didn’t force it for the sake of consistency.

I do think there is a difference between just being lazy and actually recognizing when you’re not in a mood to put in the work writing. But there have been times in the past month where I’m reading through a chapter and I’ve made all these notes of the elements I need to change, yet I haven’t made any of those changes, yet I made a move to cross off editing that chapter on my To-Do list. Or every single word I read, I immediately think is shit. It took me a couple times, reading through chapters without actually editing them, before I finally forced myself to take a step back, go do something else and then return to that chapter when I’m in a better frame of mind.

And every single time, I’ve found my work to be better than what I thought it was when I was in a foul mood. And every single time, I’ve made the changes I knew I needed to be making, but was just too lazy to make the previous time I sat time to work on it.

So, yeah. I’m not writing every day. Sometimes, I only work for 15 minutes. Sometimes, it’s three hours. Sometimes, it takes me a week to get through a chapter. Other times, I can fly through three in one session. But I’ve found that by listening to my own emotions and actually taking the time to think about what I’m actually feeling and the source behind those emotions, actually really helps my writing. I’ve come to be able to recognize when I’m looking for an excuse to waste time on Pinterest–and instead sit my butt down in that chair and force myself to get the work done–or when outside influences are risking the quality of my work. I’ve also become more keen to recognizing when I’m really in the mood to write and giving myself permission to listen to that desire, even if that means I have to send an apologetic email for failing behind on X, Y or Z.

I only have about 35 pages left to edit before I’ve finished another draft of ARTEMIS. It could take me a day or it could take me a month to finish. But I’m choosing to stop caring how long it takes and instead, do everything I can to make sure I’m creating my best work and always putting in 100% when I sit down to write.

Not gonna lie: I’m pretty jazzed about the progress I’ve made and have a lot of hope for this story. And that’s a feeling I most certainly missed.

Cheers.