If you’re a regular reader you might have noticed that Thursday’s scheduled post never made it to the site. I’d like to blame some technical glitch, but the fact is I was just out and about with the family and didn’t get around to it. By the time I realized I’d missed it getting out of bed and posting didn’t feel like a good idea at all. Sorry about that.
As you can see, it’s a new week and I’m back at the keyboard. I’ve done the first attempt at editing for about half of Whored Out now. By the end of this week, I’m expecting to have it to a place where I can send it out to one or two trusted readers who are always happy to get the “first taste” and point out my continuity issues, plot failures, and brutalization of the English language. I love them for that.
My internal calendar was targeting the end of August to be ready for publication, but as you’re reading this on September 1st, you can well imagine that I’m behind schedule. That seems to be the life of a writer. Something is always behind schedule. I’m coming to terms with that and it doesn’t bother be nearly as much as it did. Put another way, I’ve been doing this long enough now not to bother pulling all nighters just to meet self imposed deadlines. I’m sure my day job appreciates the less zombie-fied Ed.
It’s a holiday here in the States, but since most of my big plans for the weekend are out of the way, I think I may be able to sneak in an hour or two of editorial time this afternoon before I need to fire up the grill. I don’t imagine I’ll get it to the end today, but I’ll take a big bite out of it. It’s good to be home and back to “business.”
Remember in my last post I was commenting on how much I hated editing? Yeah. I still hate it. It makes my eyes want to bleed. It’s safe to say it’s not going as quickly as I hoped it would. That’s probably for the best. Fast editing makes for sloppy editing. I’m sure someone famous said that. If they didn’t, they should have because it happens to be true. Consistency of effort is good, but speeding through it is likely to cause more trouble than it’s worth.
That’s my excuse for not getting through the editing as quickly as I wanted to. If I’m honest, it’s going to need a second go through as I’ve found some inconsistencies that I’ll have to address before it gets out to the “masses.” Such is life. Or at least the life of those of us who aspire to life with the written word.
It’s getting there. Slow and steady. It’s not the breakneck pace I set three years ago, but it’s still a pace. I keep telling myself that’s the important part. I hope I’m right about that.
Somehow I always manage to block out just how much I hate editing. I enjoy so many things about the writing process, but this one element seems to have the ability to drive me round the bend each and every time I sit down to do it. Oh, I’ll get through it sure enough, but if forcing myself to sit down to write on a schedule was hard, you can well imagine the force of will it’s taking to sit down with my red pen. It’s unfortunately, because I realize good editing is what brings a story together. It’s just not something that I want to do.
Maybe when I’m a big time erotica author and a pen my “how to” guide for independent writers, I’ll pitch the idea of hiring out the editorial process. It’s a hard sell when you’re making pennies per sale. Spending hundreds to edit something that might return $20 over the next year is a hard pill to swallow. It’s not something I’m ready to do and that leaves me at the mercy of my own editorial skills and the generosity of a few friends who know my secret identity. Their input is incredibly valuable, but ultimately, I’m the one with the editorial control around here. What goes well or badly is all my fault.
I’m OK with this process being hard. It should be. That’s what keeps everyone from doing it. Still, I don’t think I’d mind much if it were just a little bit easier.
I’ve let the first draft of Whored Out sit for a little over a week now. I don’t know if that’s actually enough time to let it clear out of my system so I can try giving it an objective first read. I should probably let it sit for a month before trying to read it with fresh eyes, but I’m chomping at the bit to get back to it. It’s a long way from being ready for anyone else to look at, but it’s close enough to ending up in the catalog that I want to push through it and get this thing out and available. That being said, I don’t want to rush through the editorial process and spend the next six months finding common problems or reading over things I wish I would have changed before releasing it out into the wild.
In the erotica niche, it’s a balancing act. Most of the successful short erotic story writers seem to be more concerned with the size of their back catalog than in working out all the kinks in their story. Every month more and more “OK” erotica shows up on the shelves, making it harder and harder to get noticed by the average reader who’s out there just looking for a quick story to get his or her rocks off. With the competition of free ebooks and websites where so many really talented writers offer their work for free, sometimes I just sit back and wonder what I’m doing here and if there’s a future in this at all. Then I remember that even if I end up doing this for free, I’d still be doing it. I’ve more or less come to terms with the era of 100-unit a month sales being over for me (at least for the moment).
I might not be the most talented, best edited, or dirtiest writer out here on the internet, but I still feel like there is a lot I want to say. I know there are plenty of ideas I still want to explore. My thoughts are definitely not getting any more pure over time. If anything they go to a darker place more and more often. Judging by how many stories are out there that look at the darker side of sex, I’m apparently not the only one.
So, reading back over this post, you can see my mind this Monday morning is all over the place – editing, sales, the future, what it means to be a writer, new story ideas. There’s never a quiet moment in there (and that’s OK). I think at some point in the near future, it will be time to fall back, regroup, and reevaluate the my plan for how this whole writing thing works and how I’m approaching it. Seeing where you’ve been and figuring out where you’re going can’t be a bad thing, right?
I know that what I should be doing is bashing away at whatever work of fiction is next on my list of things to do. I should be outlining. I should be making notes. I should be sitting at the keyboard every night toiling away. I should be doing all of those things because the only way to make sure the routine of writing stays a routine is to sit down and do it.
Instead of keeping to the routine until it’s time to sit down and start editing, I’m doing everything I can think of to break the routine. That’s not a great habit to be in. It’s certainly not productive. And I know in the long run it’s not doing me any good or getting me any closer to my goals as a writer. Knowing all that I’m still sitting here tonight and blowing off the routine.
The guilt will get to me sooner or later. If past performance is any indicator it will be a lot closer to sooner. I’ve done this long enough now that my cycles are remarkably well established. Maybe someday I’ll crack the code to keep focused when a project hits one of those spots that feel like it’s a place to take a breather. Probably not, but a boy can dream.
After a spurt of productivity this weekend, I’m ready to declare that Whored Out has officially reached first draft status. Some parts of it need serious work. I knew that even while I was writing them, but the overall story arc, major events, and tone of the story are all set. What’s left, of course, is to go back and scrub mercilessly and make them all pretty.
What I seem to have done this time around is create a story that has sex in it rather than a description of a lot of sex that has a story kind of wrapped around it. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s an important one. At least it feels important to the guy who spent the last few months working on it. Don’t get me wrong, at it’s heart Whored Out is definitely still a story about fucking, but it’s also something more than that. How much more it is than that remains for the reader to determine.
In most of my past short stories, each chapter focused on a discrete “scene”. For Whored Out the chapters tend to bleed together a little more, with the sex “taking longer” and sometimes crossing through multiple chapters. It’s hard to describe, but somehow it just feels different than the others. I’m still on the fence about whether that means it’s better or worse.
So, there’s my musing for Monday morning. There’s still a long path to walk before this effort will be ready for public consumption, but it’s a lot closer this morning than it was on Friday night. For a guy doing all this in his spare time, it would be hard to ask for more than that.
I really got on a tear last night, doubling my usual number of nightly words to a little over 600. That’s a big, big day for me – especially on a day in the middle of the week. Most weeknights I’m luck to hit 300 words. Having the occasional night like that reminds me why I do this. It feels like that one in a million moment where everything goes just right.
It helps to have the occasional day like that because for me it’s the exception rather than the rule. Normally, every day is a struggle. Struggling isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As they say, if it were easy, everyone would do it… and trust me, there are enough people out there self publishing that we really shouldn’t be in a rush to make it any easier. I’d never discourage an aspiring writer, but damned if the competition isn’t fierce enough already. Every day it feels like it’s getting just a little bit harder to earn a sale. Even though sales are far from the only measure of success, that little “somebody likes me” moment is an awfully good bit of positive reinforcement.
Tonight I’ve written a couple of blog posts, done a bit of freelance work, and need to sit down and deal with some of the other ephemera of life like paying bills and responding to the mountain of email I let build up. Hopefully before the lights go out I’ll carve out the time for another 300 words. It would be a real shame to let the head of steam I built up yesterday fizzle because other stuff kept getting in the way.