Safety in…


It wasn’t something I ever would’ve considered. I’m retreating to this blog to put distance between my self and my book. Who knew? I didn’t. My writing coach did. She’s pretty smart. She has pieces of paper from institutions of higher learning that say so, and I’ve known her for … 25 years… so I have first hand knowledge of her intelligence. I’m going to start calling her the Writer Whisperer. (And I mean that in the nicest way possible. It’s 5:30 am and I’ve had another wind induced sleepless night.) *Waves at writing coach*

I’ve got the book on paper. Or, you know, on electronic paper. I suppose I might be in the 2nd draft phase. Maybe. I’m not sure. I don’t happen to know a lot of the jargon associated with writing. Seriously, what the heck is a dangling participle? (Don’t answer that. I have access to Wikipedia. And an English Grammar Handbook. That I don’t read. Obviously.)

Here’s another one – ‘platform’. Gone are the simple days of writing something good (great?) and sending it off to a publisher. Now writers must have ‘platforms’. And social media. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. No one else is on Google+, but I suppose that one day there will be a mass exodus from Facebook and … I’ll still be the only one on Google+.

But, back to the therapy… I gave my first (beta) reader every chapter up to the one where … the one where characters in romance novels do what they do. No one has seen that chapter or any of the chapters after it. It’s not scandalous, particularly, it’s just one of those things. I thought it was insanely hard to let someone see my first chapter and now it is hard to let someone see the first chapter in which the two main characters hop into… wait… yeah, they hop into bed (I had to check and make sure that’s what they did and, oh, spoiler alert.) There’s more to it than that, obviously, and like I said in my very first post I’m not writing a bedroom manual. I suppose that might be a weakness in the book. If it comes to that, I’ll be looking for a ghost writer… or a collaborator.

So what am I afraid of? Maybe I’m afraid someone is going to say “She wouldn’t do that!” which has happened once or twice and a few times (almost every time?), yes, whoever has said that has been right. A lot of the time the conversation in my head is going something like this. “Is she your character? No? Then how do you know what she’d do?”

Yes, that would be me getting my hackles up because I’m being lazy. I, like many people, am inherently lazy, but I really, really hate being caught at it. I work hard at not getting caught being lazy. (I know, I know. Shush.) And when I get those notes saying “She wouldn’t do that!” I immediately know I didn’t lay the groundwork well enough to make whatever I’ve written believable. Once or twice (more than that) they’ve been flat out right, she wouldn’t do whatever it was the reader was objecting to and I was desperately looking for a way to put in facts.

I think one of the hardest things I’ve had to try to get across is they are not military. It is a privately held organization that happens to have several similarities to military, but they aren’t. Hence the reason I put in the word “para-military” but have since struck it from the work because it caused more confusion, not less. No one is going to get court-martialed if they ask the Captain personal questions. (However those who pointed it out were absolutely right – she wouldn’t offer the things she was saying, so I rewrote that particular part.)

Perhaps I’m also going through a lazy phase. As I mentioned the back half of the book hasn’t been through a first reader so all the work for finding the holes and cruddy parts is falling to me right now. Most of the time, I know they’re there but sometimes I need someone to say “Hey, dummy, this isn’t great. If you want to be published this has to be great.” But I’ve also already rewritten the entirety of the back half of the book so I’m going to be upset when someone points out the holes and cruddy parts. Don’t believe me? I have a file called “Strikeout Pile” and it contains over 50 pages of material on which I’ve used the Strikethrough – that’s the 50 pages of stuff I’ve bothered to save, there’s probably another 100 pages of stuff I haven’t bothered to save.

I don’t write in the traditional way. I like things to be right the first time, so “2nd draft” is a foreign concept to me. I spent 20 years in an industry where getting it right the first time was a requirement. Screwing it up was not an option because you’ve only got 12 hours to put in a rig that should’ve gotten a three day load-in. If you’ve ever been on the set of a TV show and been the one holding up production, the ability to even think about doing anything twice gets trained out of you really fast. That training usually involves a lot of very public yelling and being publicly fired.

Now that I’m trying something new I do know there will be a learning curve. There will be frustration and there will be the temptation to quit. I battle those things daily. (You should see the dent in my desk from my head making repeated contact with the surface.) But… I know I can finish this and end up with a product I’m proud of. I’ve done it before. I can do it again.



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