Thursday 17th August 2017
I made some good progress on the edits today. I would have liked to have done more since I have a dozen chapters left, but the two I did was progress.
I had to rewrite the start of the first of the two chapters this evening. As I mentioned in a previous edition, a secondary character was reporting back on his mission without ever having received the mission. So I had to change the start so that they got sent out on the mission. That took a bit of time.
What I’m especially pleased about is the fact that despite the urge to get it done, I’m not rushing myself. I’m not being lazy either. I’m methodically going through the chapters, making changes and when I come to something a bit more complex or I get stuck, I walk away for a time.
I did this multiple times during the night. Instead of sitting there, pondering at the screen, I went and made a drink, or checked Facebook, or even, played a quick 20minute lore scenario in World of Warcraft. Those breaks were just long enough to take a break, but not so long that I wasted time.
As a result, I was able to keep fresh and continue editing for a large number of hours.
I’m proud of how I’m not being slapdash. I feel I’m genuinely making the changes that need to be made rather than doing a box ticking exercise. Several times, I’ve cut stuff I loved. At one point I even worried that I was taking all the humour out of the book. But I ended up weighing up how good my jokes were. The ones that made me laugh out loud, stayed so long as they didn’t detract from the chapter. The ones that were mildly amusing or really didn’t offer anything other than trying to illicite a weak smile from the reader, got trashed.
I do worry that perhaps I’m stripping a little too much back, but the fact that it is a concern actually makes me more comfortable about tightening up the prose. I’m making sure that every change is a difficult decision neither outweighed by an urge to keep something in, nor take a load out.
And so, that’s why, after an evening that left me totally exhausted I feel good about the work I did. I want to make a big push this weekend so that even if I am unable to complete the edits, I’m close.
I also started a bit of work for another author. I’ve been asked to mentor someone who is published but looking for an agent. I’ve got my reservations about this. Whilst I have a great agent, I don’t feel I’ve proved myself in the world of publishing yet and so this feels a bit premature. But this author knows that and has had feedback from me before so they know what they are letting themselves into.
In many ways, this is really just an extension of cake club. There we push each other and bully one another into getting work done. But it feels a little more equal than just being mentored.
Obviously, I only know one way to approach publishing (with all the above caveats) but I do think there’s some merit to my approach whether the book finds a great publisher and does amazingly well, or is unable to sell.
They also know that I’m going to be pretty brutal. I never see the point in trying to break someone. I believe being encouraging is best, but if they want to get to the level they want, I’m going to be deadly honest with them. In fact, one of the things I considered before agreeing to help them was whether they would be tough enough to take the level of feedback I’m going to give them.
I have a Russian swordfighting friend who is an amazing fencer, but won’t hesitate to tell me I’m shit. He doesn’t do this to be rude… he’s just brutally honest. Now to someone just starting out this wouldn’t be useful feedback, but I want to be world-class with my rapier & dagger work. And if I want to be world-class, it’s no use being nice. By wanting to be at that level, I realise there’s no room for mistakes, and so I value that feedback.
Likewise, I’m probably going to be giving Russian Feedback to the person who wants me to mentor them. Indeed, I think that’s what they are looking for.
I suspect, however, it’s going to be a very eye-opening session for them because I’m likely to challenge a number of their pre-conceived notions about themselves as writers.
I want it to be very useful and so that’s why I’ve put the time in today doing a bit of research into their reading habits.
It’s so easy to think that the last 2 years have been spent in editing limbo, but in reality, doing the prep work shows me just how much I’ve grown in the last 2 years. Even in the last 3 months I’ve seen a HUGE improvement in my editing. Who knows what advice future me would give to current me if he’d come back in time? I guess that’s one of the reasons why I’m a bit uneasy about the mentoring. I don’t have all the answers.
I don’t ever want to get complacent about my skill. I want to continue to grow and learn as I have done, and be able to use that to help those behind me. I think the moment I stop growing is the moment I really, really have to start worrying.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels. Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.
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