The Treaty with Edie

Rilla sorts out writer-ish things with Edie, her rather critical inner editor.

Rilla: Okay, Edie. We’ve been working together for some time, and I think you need to understand something I’ve figured out about me—us.

Edie: And that is…

Rilla: I write for the joy of it. I truly believe we’re not seeing eye-to-eye on this, and I need you to get onboard so I can finish The Zorce Collection.

Edie: Meaning, you want me to stop being honest? You’d rather I didn’t tell you the uninteresting, unpolished, unprintable things you write are trash and need to be burned?

Rilla: Yeah. Pretty much.

Edie: I can do that. In fact, I have no problem letting you wallow in the mire of your own dumb compositions.

Rilla: Now Edie, you’re a good editor. You’ve saved me from a lot of mistakes, I grant you–

Edie: And this is the gratitude I receive for being there for you at all hours? All hours! Because you know I wake you in the middle of the night so you can know about that typo in the comment you posted yesterday! Who else would be as concerned about your image? Protecting you has been my top priority for over thirty years now, and all you can say is, ‘You’re a good editor, Edie, now shut it’? I see how it is.

Rilla: That’s not what I said, Edie. Nobody’s doubting your loyalty here. I don’t want you to quit; I just want you to look at our work as a personal reflection rather than a marketable product.

Edie: ‘Our work.’ Thank you; I appreciate that. So, you’re saying the trilogy you’ve been wrestling with for years is now a personal reflection? You’re going to spend—who knows how many—years to complete three books, and then you want to stick it in your little diary and call it a day?

Rilla: Yes. That is exactly what I mean.

Edie: (jaw-drop) What a waste of your life! Why would you want to do that?

Rilla: It’s simple. I need the freedom to write what I want to write without thinking of who’s going to look at it and what it’s going to make them think. We did that last time, remember? Where did it get us?

Edie: (nodding) I see your point. We’ve been trying to peg this story down for almost a decade.

Rilla: Ugh. Don’t say that.

Edie: Well, it’s true. But, I will admit, you’ve been able to eke out a few good stories, even while you were blocked.

Rilla: Thank you. So, what do you think? If we work on The Zorce Collection as a reflection of our life rather than a product, how would that change the approach?

Edie: Well, obviously, I wouldn’t have to stop you mid-scene to ask if the scene itself is really necessary.

Rilla: Yes.

Edie: The dialogue could be as long as you want it. The word count wouldn’t matter.

Rilla: Yes.

Edie: Ooo, here’s a big one: I wouldn’t have to alert you every time you divulge something that hints at your own painful experiences.

Rilla: Bingo, Edie. That’s the one that’s holding us back.

Edie: So, are you calling this a memoir now?

Rilla: Absolutely not! This is Casey and Ivan’s story. They need to be able to speak, and they can say what they need to say much better if they don’t have a self-conscious author in the mix second-guessing and censoring herself.

Edie: I see.

Rilla: What do you think? Can we give this a go?

Edie: You know how I despise that long-winded garble you call your style. Will I have to wade through that again? I refuse to work with you unless I can still rip apart the scenes that don’t speak the way I think they should.

Rilla: I’ll make you a deal; if you’ll give me time to get the scenes out on paper, I’ll take you page-by-page, through the section when we’ve finished. You can clean it up to your heart’s content.

Edie: It has to be crisp. You know that’s very important to me. Clean and crisp.

Rilla: Well?

Edie: I’m willing to try it. Anything to get this monstrosity out of our head.

Rilla: Thank you, Edie.

Edie: And when we’re done, who knows? Maybe you’ll want to publish it anyway, and…

Rilla: No. Edie.

Edie: I don’t see why. Can’t you just think about that an itsy-bitsy bit?

Rilla: No. We write The Zorce Collection, and it’s done. That will free us to work on (whispers name of fully-written children’s story draft).

Edie: Ah. Yes, that’s been dangling there for some time.

Rilla: Are we agreed?

Edie: We never agree, but I will concede with this one set of stories–which is all I’m giving you!

Rilla: Good enough.

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Advice for the Writer #332 (Revised!)

Correction to my previous post of writer advice:

Don’t give your sister your half-edited MS to read with the instructions, “Don’t read it if you find yourself saying, ‘I really need to finish this for my sister.’ Just give it back and tell me the truth.” unless she happens to be a thorough, thoughtful type who is willing to tell you honestly that some parts “feel forced; and I know what you’re thinking, but you’re not going for realism. It’s fantasy, after all.”

If she’s ready to bleed red ink on your tendency to drift into conversational slang in one section and verge on purple prose in the next, then hand that sister your manuscript.

She’s actually halfway through the book! She says the story is interesting. She says there are parts where she can tell I’ve really found my stride. I didn’t ask her how few those were. 😛

Advice for the Writer #332

Don’t give your sister your half-edited MS to read with the instructions, “Stop reading it if you find yourself saying, ‘I really need to finish this for my sister.’ Just give it back and tell me the truth.”

I know what she’s doing. She’s putting off looking at the first page for fear she’ll hate it. Argh.

I have less than 100 pages left to edit in that manuscript, and I haven’t worked on it for a month!

Finis rant.

Sweet Success

A quick review of my checkoff list from June:

Point 2: It happened. I had a whole week on my own…where I did everything but sit down and write. Go figure.

Point 3: June 30th was my deadline for finishing Dragonfly Prince. Well, I edited like a madwoman, chopping out chunks and chunks. I had to keep a document open to paste what I cut out because I knew I was going crazy, but it was the good sort of crazy. The ending became more succinct and action-packed because of it.

But did I finish it? I did. I did it! No lie: it was down to the wire, though. On Saturday, June 29th, I completed the last ten pages, cleaned up the paragraphs and phrases trailing at the end, and printed it all out…452 pages.

Now I’m reading the physical copy and making touch-ups. As I’m reading it, I keep thinking, How cool is this story? Then I question, Why I’m being so conceited? Is it really that good? And then I giggle to myself, answering, Yeah! It is! And the fact that I’m answering my own questions makes my opinion altogether suspect. 😛

My next goal? (So glad you asked.) Finish the touch-ups and hunt for a beta/critique partner. Any takers?

TARDIS Mk VII
TARDIS Mk VII (Photo credit: Rooners Toy Photography)

Point 4: My baby sister is married. I’m still reeling over that statement. It was a wonderful, wonderful ceremony and reception. The highlight of the wedding was an awesome TARDIS groom’s cake made by Kristen of Home Slice Cakes. It was other-worldly. I’m serious. The cake part was melt-in-your-mouth fudge-y chocolate with thick layers of rich fudge frosting. And there was no fondant involved in its creation. All buttercream artistry. Talk about true cake decorating genius. I was enraptured. I ate five pieces in the week I was home. (That’s ‘pieces’ and not servings.) So…one of my goals for July is to do more cardio and cut out the sweets. Otherwise, I’m going to be exploring more dimensions than Doctor Who.

Point 5: Did you enjoy going with me on my research trip for Book 2 last month? I hope it was a pleasant experience. I’ve noticed a good amount of blog friends are taking a break from posting over the summer. I completely understand. I’ve thought about doing it myself, but I think I need the accountability right now. Since I plan to place my book on many agents’ virtual desks this fall, I’m intent on keeping to my posting schedule each month—to the best of my ability. So, expect updates on Wednesdays. I’m still here…writing, reading, and commenting.

(Point 6 is missing. 😦 Hopefully, I’ll be able to tell you more about it later.)

P.S. The newlyweds actually called home during their honeymoon to request someone freeze some TARDIS cake for them—you know, like that top layer of the wedding cake? Request denied. The TARDIS will have no foreseeable future visits.

Welcome, June!

June 1st. Wow. I’ve entered mid-year feeling like summer is finally coming true…even if half the year is over. It’s so sunny and everything is blooming. It’s simply a gorgeous time to be alive.

I bought a strawberry plant at the store. It was marked down. Too bad I’m not a plant person. That will be obvious to those of you who live in the southern U.S. and know strawberry-picking was going on in April. We went to a patch in April, where they let us eat our fill of strawberries and pay for a toppling bucket of them. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten such sweet, fat strawberries. This doesn’t really explain why I bought a dying plant, though. I guess I just felt sorry for the poor little strawberries nobody wanted. I mean, strawberries are my friends. Save the strawberry plants!

strawberry bucket
This picture is not rotated for your viewing annoyance.

June means:

1. No school!! Can I say that again? No school!! Yippeeeeeee!

2. There is a very good possibility that I will be spending a whole week writing. I’m trying not to get too excited about it, but it is very difficult. Seriously, thinking about it renders me speechless. But, oh, can you imagine a whole week of quiet? I can’t. Can you imagine a whole week of writing? I’m trying really, really hard to imagine that.

3. The final chapters of Dragonfly Prince are going to be completed by the end of June. There. That’s my due date…set down…in writing. It is absolutely shameful that this is still dangling on the To Do list. Instead of working on it, I’ve been writing the sequel—which is coming along nicely, but still. Let me just admit it: This is the way writer’s block works for me. I will avoid completing any project right at the last stretch. I see the finish line and start running the other way. I will work on a different story. I will work on ten different stories, and then I will start a new story before I’ll finally grit my teeth and tackle the one that’s only a few pages from finis. It’s like my brain says, “Hey, plot bunnies, Rilla has writer’s block! Time to party!” The crux of it is fear about the unknown of what comes next. *sigh*

4. As I told you at the end of April, my baby sister is getting married. It’s 🙂 and it’s :(. I get to help serve the wedding cake. I didn’t ask her if this meant I actually get to cut the cake. If so, she must love me a great deal. Remember what I told you about me and knives? Add wedding cake to that picture… Yeah.

5. I want to tell you all about my trip researching aspects of Dfly Prince Book 2! Expect more about that next Wednesday.

6. Something I worked on in April might come to fruition this month. It is a script. I’ve written a few in the past few months, actually, and this one was a lot of fun. I’ll be excited to see where the actors go with it. I’ll tell you where to find it, if and when it’s online. If it doesn’t happen, we’ll just pretend I didn’t have a sixth point, shall we?

What are you up to this month?

Concluding April

Hasn’t it been a really busy month? I’ve been moving at a dog paddle through much of it. I’m hoping to gain a better rhythm in May, though I don’t think it will be any less busy.

Blog Plan for May
On Mondays I’ll be posting miscellaneous writer thoughts. For Wednesdays I hope to post short stories in a collection I’m calling “Stories of the Valiant.”

Dragonfly Prince MS
Want to know how I’m coming along? Me too. I’ve been able to work on it just enough to add to the existing document. I had a five-page scene I’d cut out of the first draft. Now I know it’s necessary to the overall plot. I whittled it down and added it back in. (I’m so glad I saved it!) But now the story has netted three more pages. This displeases me. Greatly.

Heart
Heart (Photo credit: mozzercork)

Events
My sister, who is getting married in June, is staying with me. Her fiance, who lives here, said he’d fly her back home if she came for a visit. That was, um, three weeks ago. I think he likes her or something. Her bridal shower is this weekend, and then she will fly back. I don’t want her to leave. (I kinda sorta aided and abetted her fiance’s nefarious scheme to keep her here as long as he–we–could.)

We have about 20 days of school left. We are hitting the books hard. The kids are looking forward to the end of the school year, but I will not want to be done until I’ve accomplished one more item. We’ve studied China, Italy (with a sizable detour into Ancient Rome), and Brazil. We touched on Australia, followed by a whirlwind tour of the countries of Africa. I’d like to slip in a fun little virtual excursion to Ukraine just at the last. If I can get that in, I’ll be satisfied. Maybe they won’t notice we’re learning. I doubt it, though. They’ve grown wise to my tactics.

Research Spree
In May I hope to visit one of the settings for my sequel. EEEeee! (That’s excitement, in case you can’t tell.) If it works out, I’ll definitely want to blog about my experience.

May May surprise and delight you!

Happy April First!

Just a heads-up that I’m going to post three times a day every day this week! Aren’t you excited? I wouldn’t be, either. There is no way. So, there’s my attempt at an April Fool’s prank. Let’s move on.

Items on the Docket: 5

1. The Fan Fiction Experiment from March has its own page in the header to make the completed series easily accessible.

2. Yep, I’m still working on the last hundred pages of my manuscript. I have 65-ish pages to go. The process is painstaking. I can work for over an hour, look up, and find I’ve conquered two pages. Objective-wise, it’s on target. I am so excited about the way it’s coming along! I have butterflies in my stomach every time I work on it now. Or maybe they’re dragonflies. 🙂

3. I’ve lost my head over a fantasy adventure. I found The Lost Island of Tamarind by Nadia Aquiar at the library two weeks ago. The book cover was bright and appealing, but what caught my attention was the review blurb at the bottom. It said, “Aguiar’s exciting debut novel is a cross between Peter Pan and Lost.”

What? What! That’s my book! Okay, my book is Alice in Wonderland meets Peter Pan, and I was told by a beta that it was something like Lost. But still!

What kills me is her description of Tamarind. It’s the perfect blend of natural phenomenon and supernatural possibility. That’s what I’m going for, but I’m working from a Floridian environment—which is not really tropical. I grew up in Florida; Aguiar grew up in Bermuda. I think I hate her. Of course this means I lurve her story, and I’m super envious.

Part of me wants to be crestfallen, and part of me is so elated. It means there’s a place for my type of story. How is it possible that a book with a vaguely similar plot can make me feel more confident? Has this happened to you before?

4. I’m hoping to work on some brief fiction pieces for a series that’s been marinating in my head. The stories are becoming very insistent about being written down. Setting them up will take a few months, but I hope to post them when they’re complete.

5. This month I’ll be reblogging what I read that intrigues me. So, bloggers, remember to write intriguing posts this month! It’s not like you don’t do that already, right?

I’m glad it’s April, aren’t you? Just when I think the dreary, cold days will never go away, the sun announces to the sky and the trees and the earth, “What? You weren’t thinking of giving in, were you? You knew I’d be coming back! Now, shrug off that chill expression and smile. I’m just getting warmed up!”