Reflection, Editing (doesn’t get faster), Lessons, Relief, Moving On

16 Apr

All right. Time for some reflection. Imogen Shroud is released, although that’s still kind of … kind of a little bit unreal. It’s odd, you’d think you’d get used to releasing books but so far I haven’t at all. I want it to be this big release, but it’s not, it’s more of a surreal, floaty feeling. I feel detached and a little lost–and happy, of course, mostly that proofing and editing are both over with. I spent almost twice as much time editing and proofing as I did actually writing the book–including outlining. One of the hard truths about writing is that although you will get faster and better and more disciplined over time, editing never really gets any quicker. It’s a long hard slog, every time, and although you will get better at picking out errors, and at more efficiently making good changes, it never really becomes ‘easy’.

So let’s look back. What have I learned from this book? Well, for a start, zombies are pretty fun to write about! I suspected, of course, but now that I’ve written a zombie book I can say with some small authority that zombies are super-fun. I recommend writing about them if they interest you at all. Lots of external conflict and potential for character moments and other, y’know, writer-y stuff. It’s fun making up your ‘zombie rules’, too, how they work, whether you want to go more for a fantasy/magic kind of zombie or a science fiction kind (I went for the science fiction kind because generally I like to be able to explain–however vaguely–how things in my stories work). Rules are very important to me, in stories. Establish them early and then work off them, make them clear and don’t break them.

Anyway, I got distracted. One thing I learnt this time was “Don’t convert too early!”. I made the mobi file after the third editing run, but really I shouldn’t have done it until after the second proof. Having to make changes in two files was a huge hassle. I should have done a quick-and-dirty conversion, not worried about a TOC or good formatting, stripped out all the span tags with a ruthless find/replace, and slapped that into my Kindle. That way I could still use the TTS function for proofing (I only caught one error in the proofing rounds with my eyes, my ears caught all the rest) and make changes ONLY to the OpenOffice file. After the proofing was finished, THEN I could make a new, final mobi file for the last readthrough.

Still wondering if three edits/two proofs is enough. I think I would’ve been more comfortable with one more proof–this is the first book I’ve released without getting an actual paperback ‘proof’ copy. I wonder if those weeks between judging it to be ‘final’ and reviewing the proof copy are necessary. I guess I’ll find out when people start gathering outside my house with the pitchforks and the burning torches, “‘THAT’ SHOULD HAVE BEEN ‘THAN’ OOBLY OOBLY OOBLY”.

On the other hand I’m just really happy to have released it. Although I can be patient, I also get, I don’t know … I get antsy if I’m cooped up with just one project for too long. I kind of ‘split’ myself, on the one hand I’m focused on what I’m working on, but on the other hand there are all these other stories in the back of my head, waiting to be worked on. The more stories I write, the more I want to write, the more ideas I get. So in part, I wanted to get this one out of the way so I could move on to other things. Miya Black III should be a priority, but I’m really not in the mood for more editing right now. Maybe I’ll do some work on the second Resonance book, I haven’t looked at that in a while–although I remember having a lot of fun doing the little character introductions in that one, both for old characters who didn’t get an introduction in the first (always with a reason 🙂 ) and for new characters introduced in this story. As opposed to Birds Of Passage, which is a definite slow-starter, this one introduces a lot of good “Oh!” moments right from the beginning. Having the history of a previous book is great for me, I really think I’m at my best, as a writer, when I’m in the middle of a series. Which doesn’t help me as a relative unknown, I know, I think beginnings are one of my writing weaknesses–although I think I’m pretty good at endings, if I do say so myself. I have the feeling that if I ever attain any kind of widespread success, it’ll be from people who’ve read through my books, to the later volumes, and who tell other people “No, just struggle on through the early stuff, it gets better!”.

So yes, maybe it’s time to look at Resonance again. It is, in some ways, my awkward, socially-challenged favourite–it’s just such an exciting story to write, there are so many things I’ve got planned sometimes the hardest thing is reigning myself in. It’s silly, but I almost think of it as a TV series, rather than a book–the early ‘episodes’ are the character bits, then the bulk of the series is taken up with the story, there’s an action-packed finale, and then the next book is like the next ‘season’. I think, of all my books, I’d like Resonance to do well, just because of the speculation it could spark, all of the wild guessing–just between my sister and father there was a quite a bit of that going on, after they’d both finished reading it. My lips are firmly sealed, though. No spoilers, not even to family 🙂

Slightly overlong post today, but I’m enjoying just being able to sit back and bjournal without worrying about things I should be doing. Since I’ve been talking about Birds Of Passage, here are some actual birds, from the amazing BBC documentary “Swarm”:

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Posted by on April 16, 2011 in Of Writing


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