New Year – New Work Goals

Happy New Year!!

I really hope each and every one of you celebrating Christmas had a lovely holiday time and a very glorious New Year to follow. I also hope your days leading into 2018 have started off on the right foot. I wish you all a year of good things.

HAVOC Update – New Work Goals

As you may recall from my last post in December, I had big hopes for Havoc. I’d sent it out to someone I very much admire (which I will get into the details of below). She was absolutely amazing in her feedback, and I quickly realized I’d underestimated the work Havoc would yet require to turn into a true novel.

You see, this is the stage that is most important; even more important than getting the first draft down and taking the book as far as you can yourself. This is the stage where the actual work comes in; where you must demonstrate you can go beyond “being an artist” and become something people can relate to.

An artist loves their own words and ideas, and an artist must do so, but a professional understands that to be successful an audience must also love the words and ideas. I think this is where revision comes in. It takes something very raw and beautiful in its own right and turns it into something another person can pick up and get lost in. Often that means removing ‘flowery’ language, too detailed scenery, and/or your own hang-ups from plot or character. Of course, there is a worry that this stage is then stripping the work of its authenticity, but I don’t think so. Like a singer can have a distinct “voice” while selling albums internationally, there are authors who sell thousands and thousands of books while retaining a distinct “voice.” But, there must be some compromise to be a professional.

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

― Richard Bach

“Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.”

(Casual Chance, 1964)”

― Colette

As a professional author is what I’ve always wanted to be, I feel prepared to dig in and see if I can find the happy space between my artistry and wider appeal. What this means is that the next few months ahead hold a great deal of revision.

How to Begin True Revision

I think once you have written a first draft you need to let it sit a week or two, then print it out, and then have it read to you (programs do this), or read it somewhere other than on the device on which you wrote it (I use my ipad to read what I wrote on my laptop). Do this a few times. When this is complete and you feel the work cannot go any further, get an external review – pay for a service, have beta readers, etc. Find what works for you, but be open to hearing what these people have to say. Be open to the idea that this is for the improvement of your work and is both necessary and good for it and for you.

Through this process you will get better. You will spot your go-to hang-ups that don’t need to be there. You will spot your flowery language that is more distracting than it is helpful. You will need less self reviews and less external reviews to take your book further. But, be aware, there is a reason publishing houses still use editors and it’s because at the professional level everyone needs some help. Even a recording artist doesn’t slam out a single on their own without a whole team making it as perfect as can be. So, even though you will get better, you will always need a pair of eyes other than your own.

There are a slew of quotes that aptly describe this stage:

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”

― Dr. Seuss

“Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear.”

― Patricia Fuller

Look into how famous authors revise if you’re not sure how to begin. Go into google and search “how to revise,” or “how great authors revise.” Find articles like these and read them: 12 Contemporary Writers On How They Revise. Take a course on revision. Remind yourself that all careers require an education – this is yours. Remind yourself that anyone who wants to be truly remarkable in their career never stops learning ways to improve.

My External Review – Chimera Editorial

I really felt I needed professional and experienced help for this current stage of Havoc. I turned to Jami Nord with Chimera Editorial for their Deep Crit Review Service (they offer a number of different options). Jami is someone I admired after discovering her on Twitter through #Pitchwars. I found her insightful and her comments and suggestions to people inspired. I sent her Brindham before and now Havoc. With both she told me everything I needed to hear. She took the time, not to butter me up, but to give me true sound advice, guidance, and resources that made me feel as though she was invested in my success. Not everything is easy to hear, I can tell you that. But it is a very rare thing to feel motivated and helped in such a way that you can see yourself actually achieving and improving. If you’re not ready to improve, then I would say not to bother using Chimera Editing. Honestly. I’d say the feedback you get is for people looking to become a better version of themselves. If you think you’re amazing and need only a few little tweaks, you’ll be disappointed. They get into the nitty gritty of where you really need to get down to work. Not to say you’re not amazing, but success is an uphill road. It requires work, work, work; and they cover where you need to put in yours.

Here I Come 2018 – Revisions for HAVOC

I have five months before my world is turned upside-down by the arrival of my husband and I’s first little one. I intend to use this time to revise my heart out. I will keep you posted on how it’s all going. Knowing the above and applying it are sure to be two different things and no doubt I will experience intense moments of frustration. But, now is the moment to see what I’m made of (as is tomorrow and every day that follows). We are only what we exert the energy to become – and I want to be a professional author.

So take care dear readers and writers. Good luck in your own revisions.

J.M.

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