Bright City: Editing and Rewriting

Here’s the deal folks. I have been editing. Editing is not my favorite thing.

And writing is hard.

It’s pretty cliche to say writing is hard but it is. Some people might beg to disagree when they go to a bookstore and see hundreds of thousands of books. When you open your Kindle and you can literally read anything about anything; its kind of weird to hear a writer say that writing is hard.

Ok, so I’m writing now to avoid working on my novel Bright City.

I finished editing and I realized in the process of editing that I have to write about 10 brand new chapters (there are huge holes) and add about 20 or so more paragraphs in already written chapters. These paragraphs are pretty much transition and exposition but still…there’s a bunch more writing that needs to be done on a book that has a publishing date.

And the bad part is that I’m stuck.

My protagonist has to make a huge decision which will ultimately change her life. The current manuscript doesn’t show her wrestling with this decision. And we all know when we have to make huge decisions we wrestle. Kind of like how I’m wrestling with how to write this particular chapter.

So where to start? This chapter is supposed to give a bunch of description of her home and what makes this place special. Later the reader may wonder; why would she want to return to this place? And this is the chapter that they may want to return to if they have that question. It’s also the chapter where the protagonist is supposed to have an “aha” moment. This is the chapter where her values will be tested and questioned; which will then spur her to go against everything she believes to save her friend. This is the chapter where the reader is intended to begin to care about the protagonist.

And that’s the problem.

Often writers try to write their ideal selves. Writing complex characters who are not wholly likable is a challenge. I know part of my issue with this chapter is that I have to figure out what makes my protagonist complex and not the cookie cutter “feminist” icon I was initially trying to create. For one, feminism doesn’t exist in this world. At least not in the way that we think of it today. The world outside of her city is mostly desolate. My protagonist is young and arrogant and brilliant. But she’s also vulnerable and fearful and weak maybe even a coward. The reader has to want to see her succeed but also hope that through her failures she’ll grow.

So I’m stuck.

This chapter is a key chapter. One that was missing on the page but pieces of it has been hanging out in my head for so long its been nearly impossible to get it on paper.

And of course when I’m stalled I spiral. I spiral down into an abyss of problematic self-critique. Anxiety fills my mind and words become jumbled. Nothing is good enough and I write and rewrite. Everything feels forced and nothing feels natural.

Technically, I could move on and write another chapter. I could write those paragraphs and fill in some blanks other places. But because this chapter feels so crucial to me I feel stuck. It is a self-imposed stuck-ation.

This is the life of a writer. Maybe I’ll just go talk it out with my partner.

Writing is hard. Editing is hard. It just is. This is where I would qualify all of those two statements with something like, “but I love it.” or “it’s my life line.” and mostly I think people say those things because it’s “first world problems” to complain about writing as being hard when there are a ton of other things that are much more important than writing and which are actually and literally hard. So I won’t qualify.

Cause today writing is just hard. Which tells me I need to stop tussling with this chapter. Stop typing and just let it be.

Writing for Phat Contracts…even independent writers still want it.

I love that she wrote this wonderful piece about Amazon saving her life.

But she’s not fooling me. Her last couple of paragraphs tell a different story. Every writer wants to have NYC look at them, promote them, lavish the love that we writers have heard you can receive. Jessica Park is no different.

Yes, I agree, after researching Amazon’s self publishing it is pretty outstanding! Up to 70% in royalties is pretty sweet. They also offer great marketing, editing and designing services which admittedly are worth their weight in gold. Jessica is on to something when it comes to promoting the self publishing route.

The thing is though until an good independent writer gets the “Twilight” treatment most writer will continue to be flogged by NYC and NYC will continue to offer book deals to the likes of Snooki.

There was one thing though that stood out to me about this piece. Her lament for the writers that are writing more than one book a year. She and I both agree that its nearly impossible to produce great material for two (or more) books in that amount of time and the writer who is shackled to those terms ends up writing two (or more) mediocre books rather than one really great book.

One of my former favorite writers Laurell K. Hamilton has fallen into this trap. Part of it is that she is arrogant enough and so invested in her iconic character Anita Blake as a reflection of herself that she is no longer interested in critique. But honestly, I think her contract is part of her problem. There was a time when she was working on a couple of different series but they alternated in terms of release date so that every 11-12 months you got one of the other series and you had to, yes, wait for the other. Of course, our society doesn’t like to wait. We are a “get it now” kind of society. Immediate gratification. So her books started coming every 6-9 months and she started writing ridiculous plot twists, short handed sex scenes that seemed to have been copied and pasted from her earlier books (names changed…sometimes). And then, when you are the touchstone for many current female urban fantasy writers you can get a bit of an over-inflated ego.

In her 21 book Anita Blake series I stopped reading around book 11 or 12. It just got…horrible.

And Laurell K Hamilton isn’t the only one.

Continue reading “Writing for Phat Contracts…even independent writers still want it.”