I actually wrote about 700 words over the weekend, too, but didn't have time to make a blog post. So, this means I'm finally done with chapter 5--revising aside--and can move on to chapter 6. I'm really pleased right now for a number of reasons. First, tonight's total is the most I have written since starting ALDEN RIDGE. This is getting back into the sort of volume I produced when things were really going well with THE GUARDIAN. Volume isn't everything, of course, but this is actually quality work that flowed reasonably smoothly out of my head and onto the screen. Writing has been too much like pulling teeth recently, and this was therefore a very welcome change.
That's the second reason I'm so pleased at this point: the various mental blockages that I've been facing seem to have finally been overcome. As much as I've tried not to let my bad experiences with trying to find an agent for THE GUARDIAN affect me negatively, they definitely have. The whole experience has also been hugely positive, because I've really learned a lot from it and taken my craft up several notches--but at the same time all the rejections pretty much sapped my confidence completely away. Even the numerous positive reactions I have gotten to THE GUARDIAN didn't help all that much in the end. The bad stuff is easier to believe.
But, the good news is that my confidence seems to have returned. This is thanks largely to Orson Scott Card and Anne Mini. I've been reading through Anne's category of Manuscript Megaproblems, and that has been hugely informative as well as ultimately cathartic. It's a relief to see that I don't do so many of the things that she points out, and her way of presenting the issues relating to pacing gave me one of those Aha! moments in which I finally realized how pacing is supposed to work these days. That moment came on Saturday, and I've been working on adjusting my style to that realization ever since. Tonight seems to indicate that this new way of thinking about my writing is working (I'll explain these thoughts further in a later post).
I mentioned Orson Scott Card as being a huge help as well, because I've been going back and reading ENDER'S GAME, SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD, XENOCIDE, and CHILDREN OF THE MIND over the last few weeks. ENDER'S GAME is my favorite book ever, and it is brilliantly paced--this is something like the eighth time I've read that book, and another close study of it was very helpful in getting me to realize what I should be doing with my own writing. SPEAKER is slightly slower paced, but still so chock full of great plotting and ideas that nobody cares. A close study of that was also very informative, since it allowed me to see OSC's strengths in a book with a much different structure than the first of the Ender series. XENOCIDE is terribly slow, and yet I find the ideas and events of that book to be extremely significant to myself. It's a wonderful book, a triumph in many ways, but not one that most people would re-read as often as ENDER'S GAME or SPEAKER. It is also the sort of book that could never be someone's debut, and it was useful to analyze it to see where the pacing broke down (in the sense of what a modern debut book would have to be, anyway).
All this reading and close study of Orson Scott Card's mastery of the craft, plus mulling over Anne Mini's incredibly insightful blog posts, got me back on track after nothing else has been able to. This weekend I also re-read my entire ms so far with an eye towards what I have learned, and I made a few more edits throughout. At this point, I'm extremely happy with what I have so far on this book. Whether or not it lands me representation and ultimately publication (I of course hope it will), it's making some pretty major steps in the right direction.
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Hey Chris, what a great post. Thanks for sharing your progress. It sounds like you're definitely heading in the right direction and that, no matter what happens after you've finished this MS, you're becoming a better writer every step of the way. And that's the most important thing (though publication would be nice, too!).
You probably don't mean for this to be a forum on the merits of Orson Scott Card, but I love the guy's books. Just awesome. The Ender series and teh Alvin Maker series I especailly enjoy, and the Shadow series is all right. I believe Ender's Game is one of the best science fiction books ever, but I enjoy the rest of the books that follow it just as much. If you haven't read it, check out a book by him called "Songmaster."
Thanks for the encouragement, as always! I definitely feel the same way, that becoming a better writer is the main thing.
I'm with you; OSC is my favorite author ever. I never did get into Alvin Maker too much, but ENDER'S GAME has been my favorite book since I was a kid. I'll definitely have to try out SONGMASTER; I've heard of it before, but never have read it. I also still need to read ENCHANTMENT by him.
My point wasn't that XENOCIDE was a bad book, just that it could never have been someone's debut. In his own foreward, OSC calls it his "most talky book," and he also notes that he tried to write it as a story called Philotes much earlier in his career, but that his editor vetoed that. I think that XENOCIDE is exactly what it needed to be, and is a truly great book, but even OSC realized that it was the sort of book that could only occur after his career had thoroughly taken off.
Ahhh, there's nothing like getting into a flow, is there? To create my best work it's pretty much necessary for me to tap into the flow. My mom is like that too. It's almost like going into a trance sometimes and then you look up after a while and realize you've written all this great stuff! What fun!
Did you find Anne Mini's blog thanks to Miss Snark? That's how I found it and I'm soaking up her wisdom as well. Thanks for pointing toward her manuscript series of posts. I might not have found them for a while otherwise.
I'm excited to hear about your progress with ALDEN RIDGE. You continue to be an inspiration!
(Got over my strep throat, went on vacation, and now I'm finally back in the swing of things! Took me long enough.)
I did indeed find Anne Mini though Miss Snark. The link from Miss Snark didn’t exactly have the most positive of connotations with it, so generally I haven’t been mentioning that. Anne Mini seems a bit outspoken (in a way that I think is great), and I have no doubt that this is why she is having some problems with PWGA (or whatever the acronym actually is). To me, they seemed really unreasonable, but at least that seems to have mostly blown over for her by now.
Anyway, there definitely isn’t anything quite like getting into the flow. Very rewarding, and part of why I love writing. A lot of my recent frustration has been a continual inability to get into the flow. Glad to hear that your strep has passed, you’re feeling rested and better, and back into the swing of things! Sometimes breaks are longer than we want, but necessary. Glad things are going well for you!
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