A Weary Writer’s Lament

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I’m not quite as doubled over as Amarante out walking his pig in the movie, The Milagro Beanfield War. We had an opportunity to visit the little town of Truchas, New Mexico where Robert Redford directed this beautiful movie. We took the above photo in the State Capital Building in Santa Fe. It’s informally called the roundhouse and is the only round State Capital building in the US. Well worth a visit if you’re ever in Santa Fe. And please see this movie if you ever have a chance.

I am feeling a bit weary with writing. I thought it would be wise to assess my progress. The output on The Light Never Lies has been good – averaging about 2000 words per day. The first draft of the first section of the book is almost complete and that is weighing in at about 60,000 words. In my outline for the novel, I had blocked out the first section to set everything up, place all the characters on stage and get most of the back story that needs to be told out there. The second section will probably be about the same length. All the major action of the story will unwind, leading inevitably to the climax. Section three will be much shorter. I’ll get through the climax and then wrap everything up.

A little aside here – what does first draft mean? For every writer, this term probably amounts to something different – from point form ideas, to a wild writing marathon of spewing thoughts onto the paper as fast as one can type, to a piece of writing created according to a strict outline, it could even mean that preliminary editing has happened.

My idea of first draft is that the bones of the story are there. There may be far too many bones and I will definitely have to flesh some of them out more. I’ll probably have to rearrange some of the bones and of course there will need to be a lot of bone cleaning. But after that first draft, someone reading the novel will know what the story is about. They will know the characters, understand the main conflicts and the story arcs. They should have a clear sense of whether the book is any good.

I’ve done much more work with my post-it note outline for this novel that I did for the first draft of Disappearing in Plain Sight. I’m hoping this will mean less need to rearrange blocks of material as the novel progresses. We’ll see.

At the same time as knocking out the words for The Light Never Lies, I’ve been taking care of the final edits on the e-proofs for Disappearing in Plain Sight. It seems like I’ve been saying that over and over. How many times can one do the final edits? Good question.

Friesen Press offered me two rounds of revisions with the package I purchased. When I saw the e-proofs on the first round, I had requested several formatting changes and about 150 small text edits. When the e-proofs came back, I had to go through and ensure that all of those requests and edits had been done. Naturally some were missed. This is to be expected. On that second round, I had five formatting requests and about 60 small edits. Yesterday, I received the e-proofs that should have had all those changes. I still couldn’t move to final approval because a very small number of things I had asked for hadn’t yet been done or having been done, they created other problems. For example, asking for a word change at the end of a piece of dialogue was done, but in so doing, the quotation mark was lost.

Apparently, we are nearing the finish line. All the formatting issues have been taken care of, I really like the way the cover has turned out. I’m feeling good about my author bio and pic. I should be able to approve those final few little-bitty changes by next week and then sign off.

My reflection on this e-proof editing is that is an extremely difficult and time-consuming stage of the publishing process. Every requested change has to be checked and rechecked. And working with the pdf tools to make changes wasn’t exactly user-friendly.

The other challenge I’m experiencing has to do with moving back and forth between first draft writing and intense proofreading, between a sequel and a first book. Pouring out a story for the first time then switching over to proofreading involves a major shift of gears. And it’s hard to keep skipping back in time with the characters and the storylines.

No wonder I’m feeling a bit weary. I’m glad to say that writing for the blog is one of the bright spots in my day. I love the way a blog post cleans the palate. Short enough to give satisfaction, but long enough to really say something.

Today I’ve decided I won’t write anything but this post. I’m going to go for a walk and do some housework and relax. Where are you at in your writing process? How do you switch gears between tasks? What do you do to rest and refresh your weary, writer’s mind?

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4 comments on “A Weary Writer’s Lament

  1. Maggie Flosrand. says:

    Greetings Fran, we have been following your blog down here in California, keep on with your writing, I want to read your book, we will be home in March. Maggie.

  2. Louise Butcher says:

    If you hadn’t told me, I would never know from your writing that you are weary of the process. I suppose that kind of tiredness comes from working hard at any task. Like you, I take a break from my work – go for a walk, get a change of scenery, relax. But eventually I am drawn back to the task. Evidently, so are you. And thank goodness for that! I love reading your blog entries. Today I’m going off-line for a few weeks of cruising fun but I’ll be back.

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