What Do I Do With That Over Grown Manuscript?

I can’t decide whether I’m horrified or relieved by the size of the cuts in my new revision. On the one hand… well, I don’t have to make sure there are commas in all the right places. On the other hand… When, exactly, did cutting (cuss, cuss, expletive, derisive snort) thousand words become not a big deal? I’m not going to mention the number. I’m not even going to look at the number. Not until I’m done butchering.

The good news is that I might actually manage to make this into one book. And maybe even one book of a marketable length.

The bad news is that now, I have to actually write all the parts that aren’t in the draft, but are in the outline I’ve been working on.

Any other pantsers in the neighborhood? How do you get your manuscript organized? Plotters?  Well, any organization tips for beginners (or, you know… small children?)

Deep Breath, and Very Carefully Cut…

I am working my way through my rough draft, taking all those pieces of… stuff… out of the old file and putting them in chronological order in the new file. I’m also cutting out a lot of the **stuff that doesn’t happen in the revised timeline** stuff and a few tons of **wow, this is smutty** type smut. I wouldn’t call it romance, exactly. Or erotica. More like the Kinsey Report on The Indigenous Cultures of the Penitent Planets.

We will also be removing a significant section of work dealing with furniture, and specifically, chairs.

Well, my inner editor will. My muse is both endlessly fascinated by chairs and incredibly indignant that his masterwork is being butchered. I’m not taking sides.

And I’m not entirely sure my Muse has figured out that “chairs” probably means no tables, either.

There’s no way around it. I honestly have no idea how I wound up with that many pages describing chairs. Someone else must have broken into my house, hacked into my computer, affected my writing style, and started yammering away.

I mean… chairs. Plus or minus an upholstery job or two, I have no strong feelings about chairs. They’re just there.

Except… in my manuscript, they’re so much more than there. They’re described. In detail. From the first ladder-back to the the last spring.

Well, that’s why I’m doing this. Because if I left all the chairs in situ in the manuscript, I might not notice. I might not realize how much weight the chairs have. I might wind up being… that writer with the chair fixation.

I’d wind up with legions of fans, all of whom simply adore chairs. People who would carry their chairs on their backs to get them signed, and who consider merely sitting in a chair to be utterly pedestrian.

And I would wind up staring at them in gaping idiocy as they talk about chair-back settees and barrel chairs.

What?

It’s that one over there.

You mean the red one?

Yes. The red one.

And my entire fandom heaves a collective sigh.

Commitment First, Story Later

I just signed up for the January edition of the StoryTime Blog Hop. I have a link, and a title, and everything. Everything, except a story, that is.

The way this works is that I start the draft for the story–which gives me the link where it will be in the future–and come up with a title. Because the hostess needs a title to put on the link list.

After that, I have another week to finish the story (which, I hope, will actually match the title I handed in) and add it to the page where I said it would be.

**gulp**

Well, it works for me. I do it that way more often than I’d care to admit. It’s probably one of the things I want to get past by working on the 52 Week Challenge.

Anyway, the blog hop is on the 25th this month. Speculative fiction. Short stories. And I promise not to cuss a lot. So, stop by, and read whatever it is I come up with.

Why I Don’t Write Down My Ideas

I read another one of “those” articles, today. The kind that talks about how to choose which idea you want to use for your next novel. You know the ones–keep a notebook with you all the time. Write down your ideas. Later on, when you have time, or energy, or when you want to go spelunking for ideas…

Blech!

I don’t want to go spelunking for ideas. Occasionally, I do, but in general, just for short stories. Maybe a blog post, or two.

When I’m looking for a book idea… I’m not looking for the kind of idea I’ll forget in a day or two, if I don’t write it down.

I’m looking for the one that keeps gnawing at me all day… The one I still remember the next morning. The one that other ideas wrap themselves around.

I won’t find that kind of idea in the long list of things I thunk up and wrote down, and would have forgotten entirely without a pen and paper.

Sunlight on Ice Storm

We had an ice storm the other day. Not much of one, in my opinion. The combination of just-below freezing weather and massive quantities of de-icer means that the big roads were pretty well perfect. Some of the section roads were impassable for a while, either because of the ice, or because of downed tree branches.

Don’t tell my friends–some of them live on those section roads, and aren’t done swearing, yet–but I thought it was beautiful.

I went out and took pictures. A little off the beaten track, and some of where I went, it really was slick. I only fell once, though. And my phone may have skidded twenty or thirty feet on the ice and landed in a puddle. But here are some of the best ones.

 

I’m not sure I caught the real, sparkly majesty of the thing. I think maybe that’s more the result of sunlight hitting it as you move.

Questions for a New Presidentiad

One of the big things I’d like to do right now is figure out where, exactly the middle of the road is. What exactly would a centerist believe? Where does the country balance?

That’s a tough question. Between Hollywood and the Information Age, the loudest voices always seem to get the most play–whether they represent the rest of the country, or not. It’s like…. you give that guy over there a loudspeaker and a drum set, and then, you try to hear the quiet conversation in the corner. Which may not even be happening, because the guy on the loudspeaker is a stand-up comedian, who has a schtick based on the people in the conversation in the corner.

If the loudest voices talked about religion the way they talk about politics, you’d think the whole country was made up of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientologists.

I’d like to know how you get people to tune back in. What about all those people who didn’t vote? Is that the electoral college? (I know how my state will go, so why get out of bed?) Alienation? (Neither candidate will represent me.)  Apathy?

I’d like to know how many people are out there, voting along party lines because it’s easier than researching a candidate, or because of brand loyalty. This is something I’ve noticed. People who sound like one party when they discuss the issues, but are voting the other party because… well, I’m not sure I understand it. Maybe it’s a case-by-case thing.

How do you get communication back?

That Quaint Thai-German Cafe You’ve Been Waiting For

As soon as the storm passes, I’m going to run away to the nearest Thai Restaurant and order something so spicy it will melt all the rest of the snow for this year, and half of next year’s snow, as well. I know a place.

I don’t get there nearly often enough—it’s a little out of the way, for me–but there’s this cafe in Plattesmouth that does incredibly good, incredibly spicy food. If you’re ever in Nebraska, it’s worth the drive. Sisters Cafe.

The story–as I remember it–is that the sisters were born in Thailand, and wound up married to American soldiers. One of them wound up staying in Thailand, and the other was stationed in Germany. Then, the husbands retired, and they all retired to Plattesmouth–which is a really gorgeous little town by the Missouri River–and started a cafe where one sister cooks Thai food and the other cooks German food.

And I lived happily ever after. The end.

Most Americans don’t do spicy. And the ones that do, well… in general, what they mean is “I added a whole lot of cayenne pepper.” Which means that it will be spicy and also bitter as cold, icy death. It’s the cotton candy of spicy foods. Spicy. Just spicy. Maybe a little sugar to kill the bitter, but more or less… One flavor.

Sisters Cafe is an exception. They serve actual, nuanced spicy food. It has flavorS. Really, really nice.

And they’re nestled between a military base and elegant bed-and-breakfast country. Have been for several years. Good location. I don’t mind getting emotionally attached.

Neighbors, Editing, and Freezing Rain

The neighbor is outside in the freezing rain, huddled in the corner, trying to suck in her nicotine fix before the real storm gets here.

Not to sound like an ABC special, or anything, but… well, I am rather enjoying being inside in the warm, instead. My fingers and toes especially like this.

So, here in the warm, I’m trying to organize the pants-er special that I’m revising. All I want is for it to be basically chronological before I keep moving on the revision.

I exported it from my writing software into Libre Office, and now, I’m cutting and pasting it back into my writing software. (This time in order, with the tangents removed.) I think I have more tangent than novel, right now. But I’m recording the pages disappearing from my Libre Office copy, so I have some small way of recording progress. I think I’m right around twenty or thirty pages down this evening.

I’ve found pieces that are so old, the main character’s appearance has completely changed.

And way, way too much on the romantic subplot. Well, I have to do something, when I can’t think of anything to write. We’ll pare it down. Add more explosions, and maybe an extra knife fight.

Waiting on That Storm

We’re having one of those days where everybody runs around like chickens with their heads cut off because some weather man said something. In this case, there’s supposed to be an ice storm. It was supposed to get here late tonight…. then, you know… around midnight. Now, it’s been pushed back to somewhere in the neighborhood of nine o’clock tomorrow morning.

I’m not holding my breath. Don’t get me wrong, I’m prepared-ish. Grown-up prepared, anyway. I have enough protein powder and… uhh, whatever that green powdered thing is to outlast any storm.

It’s just that… at this point… I don’t believe there’s going to be a storm. I think there’s something about the distance between us and the doppler station that causes distortions. They estimate, and estimate, and re-estimate, and in the end, the things that are supposed to hit us usually do wind up missing.

Don’t tell  the newbies that, though. When something finally does hit, they won’t be prepared, if they know.

I could stand a couple of days well and truly snowed in, iced under, burning the furniture for warmth writing time. Or…you know… snowed in, but natural gas and internet still works time off from the day job.

I wish it were going to happen.

Well, I’ve planned ahead. If I’m snowed in, fine. If I’m not, well… I’m disappointed, but I suppose that’s life.

It was nearly 50 degrees earlier. Now it’s back in the twenties.

We’ll just see about that

Did You Ever Know That You’re My…Jim Bowie?

Once upon a time, Jim Bowie was a mortal man, or so the story goes. Since then, he’s become a “folk hero” which means that separating out truth and fiction is a little tough, and mot people don’t really want to do it, in the first place. Make no mistake, I’m talking about the legend, here. A little fact, a little fiction, and a whole lot of whisky and temper.

Bowie was one of the defenders at the Alamo. That would be Texas vs. Mexico, for those of you who are just tuning in on our International Channel. Bowie and the Texans were massively outnumbered, and more than that, Bowie was sick as a dog.

He was can’t-stand-up, confined to bed, crawling around the fort on his hands and knees sick. Yellow Fever? Cholera? Late stage cirrhosis of the liver? Whatever it was, Bowie was in bad shape to begin with, and winds up giving up command.

There’s a point in the siege when things go from bad to worse. It becomes very clear that the men who stay to defend the Alamo will die. The commander (whose name was Travis, by the way) calls the guys together, and tells them the situation is bad. He gives them the chance to leave while they can.

He draws a line in the sand, and tells the men to cross it, if they are willing to die with him for their cause.

Bowie demands to be carried over that line on his stretcher.

Legend has it, anyway, and plenty of good, sensible people will defend this truth, as if they were there, themselves.

And legend also says that when they found his body, he was propped up against a wall and out of ammo, with a knife in his hand, and surrounded by the many bodies of the enemy soldiers he had killed.

There are plenty of people out there who will use circumstances to explain why they didn’t fight for their goals. I’ve seen that. Sometimes, I do that.

I have friends who don’t. I have friends who amaze me, and keep me on point, and who inspire me.

New baby in the house? Three kids? Elderly parents? Health problems? Learned English at the age of 83 and wrote a book? Became a marathon runner, despite having only one leg, and retrograde amnesia?

No excuses. They do it, anyway. They play through the pain, they fight through it, and they become that person. The one you look at, and you’re amazed that they can do it, and stunned that they can do it that well.

They look at that line in the sand, and pull themselves over it. They’re in. Even if it looks like impossible odds, even if it is impossible odds. No excuses.

And suddenly, my excuses all look so much smaller. Ridiculously small, in fact. They start to look like the kind of things that someone who didn’t want to write a novel would say, not something that someone who can’t write a novel.

And I want to write a novel.

So, suddenly, I’m over the line, and all-in, too.