Tuesday, July 15, 2014
creativity begets creativity
As so often happens for me, an exchange with another writer led to thinking more about something that I then felt was worth sharing here.
When I have a conversation with another-- whether in real time, a thread of comments on a blog, through Skype, or exchanging emails-- it makes me put into words what I had been thinking. Sometimes it causes me to redefine my thinking because of taking into account new ideas.
In this case, the exchange was about the writing process and editing which is so much a part of writing. The other writer said that she thought a lot of the reason we can look at a book later and feel it's not all we'd want was based on our changing. We grow and see things differently. I agree with that and would add that our skills grow.
So editing has been where I've been this last week and working on three different books which had already been edited many times. But this writer had looked at one of mine and saw some things she felt were not working. She gave me specific ideas regarding where and why. That led me to take a long look at that book.
Sky Daughter was first written in 2002. It's one of the rare stories I sent to a publishing house after I had written it. The good part was the first editor liked it enough to send it to another editor in a different department. The bad part is both rejected it for different reasons-- the first for too much romance and the second for not believing in the paranormal aspect (this was before Harry Potter and the launch of so many urban fantasy books).
In June of 2012, I ePublished it. I brought it out after I had stopped doing free days. It was one of my first books to surprise me when it didn't have good sales. You know when you love a book, you think others will. ePublishing teaches you quickly that's not always the case. In its case though, after I got into this 7th or 8th re-editing of it, I was glad for those lukewarm sales and no free days.
Using her critique as a starting point, I found pluses in my writing. I still liked my hero, heroine, dialogue, the basic plot, its secondary characters, and believed in its premise. Sky Daughter was my first with a monster, and I had done research in terms of the experiences real people had claimed with such beings. The monster, as one of the characters, still worked for me. So much for the pluses.
But when I got into it, I was disappointed and surprised at the many places where my writing was not smooth. It happened most especially in transitional passages-- where you take characters from one place to another without dialogue. Also I had times where the writer's, hence characters' logic, no longer worked for me. Fortunately better logic was waiting to be found. So I worked on that and the places where I had been redundant, which no matter how many times you think you got them all, there they are.
When you see those kind of failings, it leads to a losing faith in your abilities. I remember sitting in the yard talking to my husband and telling him how disillusioning this re-edit was being. But if you are a writer, you trudge on. You hope that the changes you made this time will prove to be good in a year when you look at it again.
Anyway, if you bought Sky Daughter, delete it from your reading device, go to Manage your Kindle where you can ask for it to be sent again. Sometimes they send the corrections automatically, but they have to decide it's a major enough change to warrant it. I believe this is.
After seeing those kinds of goofs in a book I had thought was well written, I went directly to doing another re-edit. For From Here to There, I had gotten a critical review awhile back when I was too busy to get back to the book. The reviewer had written that overall they liked the story, but the writing was not as consistent as they had expected, and it had cliches. Unfortunately unlike with the Sky Daughter critique where I could ask for specifics in an email, this one on Amazon, I could not ask what they meant, but I worked it over last week (gave it a new cover too).
Fortunately in avoiding total depression as a writer, I found less of those what-was-I-thinking passages or the how-did-that-get-by-me places! Still I found enough where I could say it better (especially in those pesky transitional points), that I also republished it (one of the pluses to eBooks).
So again, if you bought From Here to There or got it free, where you have a record of owning it at Amazon, delete it from your reading device, go to Amazon and find where you manage your Kindle and tell them to send it again. They will do this but be careful you don't delete it from there. Once you do that, you have to buy it again or get me to email you a copy if you tell me you owned it and lost it. I will take your word for it.
After From Here to There was off to Amazon (and already up with its new cover and corrections), I went straight to a third edit to see how it held up-- Desert Inferno.
It's the first book I brought out as an eBook in December of 2011 and still one of my favorites as it takes the O'Brian family of the historical westerns to a modern story involving the Border Patrol. I also redid its cover.
Desert Inferno was less disappointing. No major glitches, but I still am able to write some of it better. When I can write something better, I will and I then republish. Like I said above, if you have bought this one, you can get the re-edit on probably Wednesday. Give Amazon time to get the new one up. This ability to redo them is one of the pluses of ePublishing.
It might seem that changing a book means it wasn't publishing ready. I guess that could be said. I mean if I can do it better today, shouldn't I have waited for today? Well what about this idea-- I could also do it better next year. So why ever put them out?
Thursday I have in mind discussing cliches in writing. I think it's worth looking at a little more.