DDsE: Easier Except for Being Harder

Back in 2008 or so, when serialized fiction returned to vogue, I decided it wasn’t for me as a reader or a writer. I mean, I don’t even like Dickens, probably the most famous serial writer of all time.

The latest wave of serial authors seemed to publish with little or no editing. No, thanks! I want to read your best – not your first – writing.

Many writers will tell you that editing is the most important part of writing. I’ve always been in that camp. I edit my own novels heavily. This painful tedious work yields little of the satisfaction of writing but almost always improves my drafts.

And yet.

There’s no denying the power of spontaneous ideas, nor the impacts of intuition. All my best ideas materialize, simply and suddenly. Perhaps I tap the unconscious and they rise up. Perhaps they drop from the wild blue. I include countless spontaneous ideas in my novels but I’ve never let them steer a project – until now.

A few months ago, I was miserable about my writing or lack thereof. I’d been editing the second book in the FRAMES series for what felt like forever. Weird about that. Even in rough draft, I knew Book 2, Nica of the New Yorks, was stronger than Book 1 – and I’m quite proud of Book 1, Nica of Los Angeles. Yet Book 2’s editing was interminable. No wonder, when so many pages went like this:

editing

Edits to a page of Nica of the New Yorks (Frames Book 2)

No matter how many words you change, though, editing doesn’t feel like writing; and as the editing went on, the way I missed writing became as physical as a toothache. But I couldn’t risk starting a new project that might derail or distract me. For the foreseeable future, finishing FRAMES is my main event.

Meanwhile, I became a fan of an amazing improv comedy group, The Improvised Shakespeare Company, which invents 2-hour plays on the fly. Watching those plays inspired me to write more improvisationally. I began writing short bits (about 300 words) daily. For the first time, I wrote without planning or conscious knowledge of the story, characters, themes, format, or genre. Just let it go and see where it takes you.

The writing was joyful and easy at first. But as the installments added up, I realized I liked them. A lot. Then a varied group of beta readers responded with enthusiasm — and the stakes changed. Suddenly the outcome became important. I wanted to stop and plan, I caught myself pausing to ponder. I wasn’t stuck, mind you, but I had begun to fear mis-steps. My conscious mind was trying to regain control, to follow the usual procedures, make a map to a destination.

But I’m not ready to end the experimental wandering. So I’m forcing renewed focus on the journey, not the endpoint. My experiment has become DDsE, a young adult paranormal horror romance. Each installment is a diary entry by Ella, a 16-year-old who despises her life until two mysterious allies enter it: a strange boy with a dangerous family and a feral cat that seems to get inside Ella’s head.

And now I’d better get back to writing DDsE. I’m very concerned about where I left Ella yesterday…

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Today’s Lessons in Haste and Humility

Lesson Number 1: When your blog post has links, check each link before publishing.

I’m thinking you don’t need details to imagine how this lesson came to be.

Lesson Number 2: Do not rely on Pages‘ spell- or grammar-checker.

I much prefer Apple’s word-processing software, Pages, to Microsoft Word. But then I hate Word and avoid it whenever I can. Thus it grieves me to report that Word could be superior to Pages in any way. But here is one way. A big way!

When I prepared my psychological thriller, WAS IT A RAT I SAW, for serialization on this blog, I did the typing in Pages. I did the spellchecking in Pages. I copied each serial chapter from Pages. However, to prepare the book for e-publication on Smashwords, I had to move the manuscript into Word. It was then that I discovered the typos. In well nigh every chapter.

Typos! Everywhere!

Typos! Everywhere!

I so hate typos. I assume my readers do too. Fortunately, none of these typos changed meanings, but that is limited consolation.

For those of you who read RAT in serial, mea culpa and lo siento. I hope I can make it up to you. Come back tomorrow – the next post here will detail how to get a free e-copy of RAT with all those typos corrected.

Mind you I’m not saying it’s typo free. That’s a promise I can’t make and I’m not alone.  I can’t remember the last time I read a book that had a zero typo count.  In defense of current typo standards:  I was stunned at how many typos I found in the old hardcover version of WAS IT A RAT I SAW, which I re-visited to serialize. As I recall, the Bantam-Doubleday-Dell copy editor and I spent 37 months in proof-reading before that edition was finalized. At the time, I thought no typos had escaped scrutiny. I was wrong.

More Words about Murder and Brains

With relief, enthusiasm, and sheepishness, I announce that more chapters are now on-line in my serialization of  Was It A Rat I Sawmy psychological thriller involving real-life split brain research, animal rights, and a love quadrangle.

Baa.

Baaa.

I’m making progress – a mere 70 hardcover pages left to re-type! – but am way behind my original self-imposed deadline to digitize this  novel. Hence the sheepishness.

Do not be misled by the photo. There are no sheep in Was It a Rat I Saw although I do have great fondness for sheep. In fact, my daughter’s first word was “Baaa.” We were visiting a farm at the time.

Was It A Rat I Saw was previously published in hardcover by Bantam-Doubleday-Dell. For the first time, I’m publishing it electronically, first as a serial and then as an e-book.

Here are some Rat Reviews on Goodreads.

A New Introduction to a Previous Self

I continue to limp deeper into the retype* of ?Was It A Rat I Saw?, my psychological thriller involving real-life split brain research, animal rights, and a love quadrangle. I haven’t read the book in years and retyping also means rereading, which holds surprises for me:

  • I’m always my harshest critic but I like ?Rat? although I would do everything differently now.  I have resisted the urge to rewrite – that way lies madness.
  • The real brain science still shocks, chills, excites me.
  • I don’t remember much of my own book and the retyping gets derailed when I read ahead to see what happens next.
  • I couldn’t write this book today. I am not the same person. This book captures a slice of my life, perspective, attitudes at a particular moment that is now long gone.

I had a plan to publish each of the four sections of ?Rat?, chapter by chapter, to this blog during the four weeks in August. There are several chapters in each section. This week, I published one chapter. Not one section. One chapter.

I call it a sign of psychological health that I no longer calculate how behind I am.

I believe the retype should now pick up speed. First, I have adapted to being back at my day job and getting All Else done in scattered shards of time. When I started the re-type, I was home lounging around after hip replacement surgery, with nothing but time. Second, I have just finished a first draft (yahoo!) of my latest novel, the fantasy detective series opener Frames. That is written in a different style than ?Rat? and I backed off from retyping when I realized it was influencing the style of the new book.

Good excuses for the slowdown, eh wot? No doubt next week I will have occasion to manufacture yet others.

*?Was It A Rat I Saw? was previously published in hardcover by Bantam-Doubleday-Dell. Now I’m publishing it electronically, first as a serial and then as an e-book.

Here are some ?Rat? Reviews on Goodreads.

The Sound of Two Hands Limping

imgres Okay, whose brilliant idea was it to set a deadline for my retyping* of ?Was It A Rat I Saw?, my psychological thriller involving real-life split brain research, animal rights, and a love quadrangle?

I had a plan is to publish each of the four sections of ?Rat?, chapter by chapter, to this blog during the four weeks in August.

Half empty: I am behind by an entire section.

Half full: I have finished Part II and am almost at the midpoint.

Two more chapters on line this week! If I had no self-imposed deadline to make me feel behind, I would be better able to enjoy that accomplishment.

I feel a Life Lesson coming on…

*?Was It A Rat I Saw? was previously published in hardcover by Bantam-Doubleday-Dell. Now I’m publishing it electronically, first as a serial and then as an e-book.

Here are some ?Rat? Reviews on Goodreads.

Week 2, Serial Publication: Was It A Rat I Saw

Cover of "Rat"

Jacket from the original hardcover edition.

Faster! Faster!

Faster! Faster!

When I originally wrote  Was It A Rat I Saw, a psychological thriller involving real-life split brain research, animal rights, and a love quadrangle, it was published in hardcover by Bantam-Doubleday-Dell. Now I’m publishing it electronically, first as a serial and then as an e-book.

My plan is to publish each of the four sections of Rat, chapter by chapter, to this blog during the four weeks in August.

Here in la semana dos, I have (already?) fallen behind.  I was supposed to add six chapters this week. So far I have added four.

My plan was perhaps a tad ambitious.

To publish Rat electronically, I must first type the whole book from one of the print copies.  I could have had it scanned and digitized but I didn’t. I decided to retype. I had a good reason and another reason. I wanted to save a little money and I wanted to read it again. You get to decide which reason is which.

I might catch up to my plan because the sections get shorter as the book goes along. Or I might revise the plan. Tune in next week for the next installment of Just How Fast Can Sue Type?

Meantime, feel free to establish office pools or other wagers about how many chapters I will add in week three.

Here are some Rat Reviews on Goodreads.

I got the flying fingers photo from this webpage.

My Psychological Thriller Now On-Line

Cover of "Rat"

Jacket from the original hardcover edition. 

Tommy Dabrowski, a brain surgery patient and research subject of neuropsychologist Dr. Clare Austen, witnesses a murder with the right half of his brain, which no longer has access to language. Clare and Tommy race against time to figure out what he knows before the killer gets to them.

Was It A Rat I Saw is a psychological thriller involving real-life split brain research, animal rights, and a love quadrangle. It was originally published in hardcover by Bantam-Doubleday-Dell. I’ve got the rights back now, so am publishing it as an e-book.

To start that process, each Friday in August, 2013, I will post a section Was It A Rat I Saw to this blog page.  Five sections, chapter by chapter, on five Fridays, beginning August 2.

If you read them by the end of September, you will receive an e-book version for free.

I am serializing Rat now because August is web serial writing month (WeSeWriMo). Me, I probably won’t ever write serial fiction – I do too much late-stage editing, – so posting an already-finished book may be as close as I ever get. But I admire the energy and sensibility of serial writers.

Check out the Rat Reviews on Goodreads.