My Online Literary Experiment: Riding the Train

The Approaching trainOn this Friday I will be sharing Chapter 21 and I am, honestly, feeling more stress and pressure now around the writing of the book than I have ever before.

Wait… have I said that before? Whatever the case, I am on the train and we are flying down the tracks. Little animals beware!

Part of the stress might just be because I have to keep up this blog at the same time… and there is the matter of my new little book being released last week!

A Jane Austen Daydream(Oh didn’t you know? Here is a link for my info- https://sdsouthard.com/2012/12/07/a-jane-austen-daydream-my-latest-novel-is-out-only-4-99/.)

Yes, there is a lot going on and I feel it in my writing bones…

The Struggles

As I noted in my last update I am no longer ahead a week in my writing, which means Chapter 21 is still a work in process even today, but that is not my big problem. My big problem is that as I get near the end there is so much I want to do which means my chapters are getting long.

When I first began the experiment, I thought the chapters would always be between 10 and 15 pages, in the most. Well, that was thrown to the wind with the first 20+ page chapter emerged (Chapter 3).

Ah, Chapter 3… What did you do to me!?!

Another concern hitting me is around the circular nature of books in general. I’m not sure how many readers catch this but one of the great writing necessities is to have an ending that justifies the beginning of a work. In other words, the journey the reader takes with the writer (and the characters) make sense from beginning to end. It all sounds easy when you say it, but to successfully pull it off it takes skills, and a reader knows when it doesn’t gel; oh, they might not be able to put their finger on the problem, but they can tell.

Honestly, I’ve no idea how successful that is going since I don’t have time to look back and I haven’t even written the ending yet!

See, that is one of the things I never expected to happen around the writing.

When you are creating a book in the “normal” fashion there is always a lot of revising; every chapter is always fresh in your mind since the work lives there as a whole, not a sum of parts;  in other words, a chapter is never done until the entire book is done. Writing in this one-a-week style is so very different and after a chapter goes up it is immediately completed.

Done.

So right now I feel very much mentally in flux not sure exactly what kind of a book I have in front of me and how successful it is; and I won’t know that until I breath out the epilogue and can look back, digesting it for the first time as a whole. (Yum.)

The one thing keeping me sane throughout the entire experience of writing the book is the followers to my blog who are reading it. Some out right write to me about it on twitter or via e-mail or comments, but what they don’t realize is that by doing that or even simply clicking the like button they are justifying every sentence of my experiment for me.

If it wasn’t for them, I’m not sure I would be feeling the passion I do to make this a great book. I owe it to them, the readers, since they are supporting me by joining me on the train.

2013

So what is my plan when the book is finished in the early weeks of 2013?

Well, I have talked about this in the past in my updates, but honestly, it keeps changing in my mind.

Right now, at this moment, I want to lock this down as a solid book from beginning to end. Which means, yes, I want to edit. I want to revise, and then I want to at least try and find a publisher or agent for it.  That’s not to say I would turn down any offers to publish it or represent it right now! Of course not! I would be game talking to anyone who has been enjoying the reading of this book. So if you are an agent or publisher and you want to talk to me… Ah… okay, that was not subtle. Moving on.

Is there a chance that the version on the site could become the “old” draft of the book? Yeah, possibly. My opinion about how much of a difference there could be really comes down to how much I trust myself as a writer on any given day.

On some days, I couldn’t trust myself to create a single sentence; others I am sure all of the previous chapters are fine and it will work. I’ve done this before, right? Trust yourself, Scott! Of course, I never wrote a book like this before.

So for me, my writing life around it, everything is in flux. Let’s go back to the eating metaphor (it is lunch here), I’m pretty much a baker who is throwing ingredients in a pot, stirring, and hoping that when it comes out of the oven it doesn’t explode like in a cartoon.

Writing the Book

One thing I find fascinating is that since I am writing for it to appear on a blog, my voice and style is very different. What do I mean?

Well, in blog writing there are paragraph breaks not the continuous flow you get from a normal style of tabs for the start of a paragraph. And as I write the book I have noticed that this has changed my voice and delivery.  It’s gotten to the point that I think I might have to keep this formatting when I actually try to get publication for it. It just feels so natural for the work now.

Seriously, I tried moving a chapter into the normal writing format and it didn’t work. It didn’t jive. It felt wrong.

This was an issue I never planned for or considered when I started working on the novel online. Hopefully, it won’t give me grief later.

Another issue, the one that keeps me up at night, is the fact that I might be repeating myself in the book. Not in a major way, not in plot or character, etc. No, I mean in expression, a turn of a phrase, a description. Sometimes I even stress I use a word too much. I wrote one chapter a while back (I won’t say which) where I went through it and removed one word from it entirely, because I was certain (even though I couldn’t be really) that I had used the word too often already. Its stuff like that that can drive a writer attempting a book like this crazy.

What is the real problem to worry about and what is the illusion?

What I Am Looking Forward To…

There is going to be a week in January, I can’t yet say when it will be, but at that moment, I will feel the stress of the book off of my shoulders and I will take a week break from the blog.

I won’t announce the break (since I don’t want anyone to think I am stopping), it will be just one week where you will see a lot of re-posts of previous blog entries. I already have my plans for that week! I’m going to turn off my brain with the lovely mental drug that is video gaming.

Yes, this literary writer (creator of Vince the artist and a novel on Jane Austen) is either going to be playing Lego Lord of the Rings or Epic Mickey 2.

It will be a week of quiet, no worries bliss.

Then immediately after that week is done, I’ll be back in full swing. Writing two to three blog posts a day, supporting A Jane Austen Daydream and planning my next steps for Permanent Spring Showers… if I finish it and it is edible, of course, I mean, readable. Readable.

Deep breath…

Chapter 21 will be up on Friday.

If you liked reading this update (the chapters can be found on the Permanent Spring Showers page), why not check out some of my published books? I’ve had three novels published in the last few years, A Jane Austen DaydreamMy Problem With Doors and Megan. You can find them via my amazon.com author page here, or as an eBook on Google eBooks here.  Thanks for reading!

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3 responses

  1. I know just what you mean about using a word or phrase too much – it’s one of the things that drives me craziest in my own writing, and as such one of the bigger things I’ll try to point out when editing someone else’s (even in this sentence I’m getting frustrated with myself for using ‘things’ twice, but I’ll let it be for emphasis).

    The mental flux about a piece’s done-ness can be a little infuriating. You can look at something one day and say “Yeah, I did pretty good here”, and again on the next to think “Damnit, this needs a lot more work”. I suppose that’s when you have to trust the opinions of your test readers. (>^-‘)>

    • I don’t know if I said this before or not, but I can’t read a work after I finish it because of this problem. I always want to revise. So like with my new book A Jane Austen Daydream I had to say goodbye, knowing I would not read or work on it again. A necessary ending for the sake of sanity and the work. I guess the question around PSS is when can I walk away and, more importantly, really what kind of a final product do I want since this book is so different in many ways.

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