This morning, I finished reading one of the books for my American Women Writers class, The Coquette, by Hannah W. Foster.
Have you read this book? I had never even heard of it before seeing the reading list for this class. It was written in the very late 1700s, and is about a woman trying to choose between two men: a minister who wants to marry her, and a rake. She ends up alienating the minister, who marries someone else, and so does the rake. However, she ends up pregnant from an affair with him, and dies alone in childbirth. The tale is told in a series of letters between the characters, giving a good view of the characters true emotions.
And here’s where I had a problem with this story, because some of the letters are written from the rake’s point of view, and he’s a complete and total jerk, who refuses to take responsibility for his own actions.
He makes a concerted effort to come between Eliza and her other suitor. When that relationship goes down in flames, he marries a heiress, and says she can’t blame him for his actions, because she knew how he was. What? He pursues Eliza unmercifully, and when she eventually gives in, he blames her and loses all respect for her. The pregnancy is all her fault. When his wife finds out and leaves him, and he loses everything, still he doesn’t want to accept blame. He does seem remorseful after Eliza dies, but still doesn’t really own up to his faults.
I enjoyed the book somewhat, but this character drove me mad. Deliberately hurtful, selfish, greedy…everything was her fault, even though she repeatedly rebuffed him. When tragedy struck, he still wasn’t fully ready to accept blame. I found him entirely unlikable and criminal.
And to be honest, his attitude and behavior is quite reminiscent of some of the prevailing attitudes in society today. That girl in the provocative clothing who was the victim of sexual harassment, abuse, and/or rape? That was all her fault, for dressing like that.
Since when are people not responsible for their own actions, including hurting other people?
Just out of curiosity, how many projects can you work on at a time? (Not physically simultaneously, just, you know, during the same general time frame.) I’ve read about people with more than one WIP at a time, and the idea is slightly…mind-boggling to me.
I’m editing one project, Witches, and writing Siren Song. But…I still have The Fall rattling around back in there, and then there’s that new Camelot/King Arthur/Guinevere story the Muse wants to play with….Sigh. Don’t get me wrong, my writing goals are not very intense right now. If I get in a couple of 500-word sessions a week, I call it a good week (the habit is what’s important to me right now, after an extremely extended hiatus from writing.). I also don’t want to lose the emotion I have for those other two stories. Not when holding on to my motivation has been so tricky anyway.
The idea I’m currently considering: continue editing Witches of course, to the tune of about 5 chapters a week. (This is just really a pass to change it from 3rd-person POV to multiple 1st-person, not an in-depth revision.) Continue writing (at least) two 500-word sessions on Siren Song a week. One session with The Fall. And one with the Camelot story. Every week. To facilitate this, I would also want to actually outline all three stories before starting to write the other two. I don’t have any sort of outline for Siren Song, so this would undoubtedly be beneficial in that regard.
Is this insanity? Has anyone tried writing multiple stories like this at the same time?
I swear, lately, my brain just seems like it’s shut down. I’m not even asking very much of it mentally, and it’s still like “Nope. I’m done.” The basic desire is for sleep. Not mental exertion. This is not a positive thing when classes start in just under two weeks.I barely watch TV, so that isn’t distracting me. Making myself read is even a challenge, sometimes.
Okay. I admit it: I’m not happy with Witches because it’s written in third-person POV, not first-person (which is what I’ve been writing in for years now). I admit it. Happy? It actually doesn’t make me happy (and yet it does. Both at the same time. I may have some identity issues.). Changing third-person to first-person is not the hardest thing I can imagine revision-wise. (I’m not saying it’s easy, just “not the hardest”.) However…doing alternating first-person view points well (and clearly) can be tricky. And I need about six POV characters to tell this story fully.
That’s a lot of character voices to keep straight. Not to mention, formatting the manuscript so as not to confuse readers. Because, like juggling six viewpoint characters isn’t enough, they’re also going to be in different countries, which will be need-to-know info. That won’t be difficult at all.
To be fair, most of the book will be in Kahleena’s or Bali’s POV, a good chunk will be in either Casimir’s or Julien’s POV, and the rest will be in Siobhan’s and Eodin’s. So, I need to make it clear at the beginning of each chapter where we are and whose head we’re in. I’m going to re-start this revision with that in mind and keep on keeping-on.
So, I’m almost finished with my first read-through of Witches (the third version). I’m not making many notes as I go, though. Nowhere as many as I thought I’d make. It’s not that the draft is clean. Far from it. It’s that the entire draft feels wrong.
What do I mean by that? I still love the characters and the story, but the POV and voice are far different from what I write now, and, as a result, this draft feels…I don’t know, clunky, distant, impersonal? Now I have to decide if I should continue on with the HTRYN process, or go back and update the voice and POV with what I know now.
This story was the first one I ever started to write, and even if it doesn’t ever see the light of day, I would like a version that I’m happy with. I am not happy with this version.
So, I started revisions on Witches on Sunday, using HTRYN. I haven’t touched this story in years, and, in fact, have actually forgotten large chunks of it, so reading it has been an experience. In the first lesson of HTRYN, you’re looking for places the characters, story, or world went wrong (or places they went right). I remember the first time I used it to revise a story: I had red ink all over the pages, with notations of things. This time…the first few chapters have a few scattered marks, but the rest of the 20 chapters I’ve read so far have nothing. Nothing.
This concerns me. Oh, the story isn’t perfect, not by any means. But it’s written in a far different voice and POV than I use now, and that is what bothers me. It feels off, but not wrong. I’ve found a few “wrong” things: like a couple of details that don’t mesh well with the worldbuilding, but the story/plot itself seems to be sound. So…
I still have a lot more reading (and lessons) to get through, but as it stands now, the main thing seems to be that I’m going to have to fix the voice. I’m not as worried about that as I probably should be, because I would fix that a chapter at a time, which isn’t an overwhelming idea.
I have zero experience with this result from revisions. Anyone have any thoughts?
I have. To be honest, the “break” I just finished up was more of a three-year hiatus than anything. There were a lot of reasons for it–depression, a major health issue, school–but that doesn’t make me feel any better about taking it.
The thing is, I miss writing. An ex of mine used to tell me I needed to write if I started getting too grumpy, and that’s probably true. (Kind of explains my moodiness lately, as well.) Blog-writing helps stave off the attitude somewhat, but getting eyeball-deep in fiction will almost for-sure “cure” the problem.
I’m eager to leap back into the thick of things, to pull a blanket of words over my head and just snuggle into them. Except, of course, I have no idea where I was going with the Siren story….
Not to mention, I want to revise Witches, and I haven’t touched it in years.
So, I think a bit of planning is in order, first. Wait. Pre-work. I meant pre-work. I already have a plan: do all the things! NO. No. I need an idea of where the story is going, first, before I dive in and start writing. Otherwise, I’ll end up with another 300,000-word monstrosity to revise.
Okay, new plan: HTRYN for Witches, brainstorm a general outline for the Siren story and work through HTTS for it. Okay. I have a plan.
So…School is out. Vacation is over. Real life has started again. That means it’s time to get back to writing. Yay! In that direction, I went through the “Writing” folder on my computer on Sunday.
And found 67 pages of a story I don’t even remember writing, for NaNo 3 years ago. I read probably 15 pages before I believed that I actually wrote it. It’s a YA about the Sirens and Spartans, but set in the here-and-now. It was kind of like having an out-of-body experience, reading through something I have no memory of writing. (The writing took place about 6 months pre-stroke, and I stopped when my depression got really bad).
Yesterday, I found the story notebook for my newly rediscovered story. That’s the good news. The bad news…in it is one piece of paper with 40 words on it. Mainly character names. No plot ideas, no outline, nothing else. Also some printed out research on sirens and the like. It appears that I will be basically starting from scratch, because, let’s face it, I’m totally sucked into the 67 pages of MS I have. I was seriously like “Did I write this? It’s really good!” Guess what just got bumped to the top of my to-write list?
That’s not strictly true. I want to get going on The Fall again, too. I’ve only got a few chapters written, and I need to change some stuff that my Muse gave me over the past few months when I wasn’t supposed to be writing (my Muse is, apparently, a rebel). An outline would, perhaps, be helpful. Or, heck, even a basic idea of where the story was going. At this point, I’m flailing around in the fog, only able to see two steps in front of me.
I also discovered a tiny bit of another story, along with its notebook and partial outline, as well as a good bit of notes for a third story. I think 4 WIPs is a bit excessive, even for me. My Muse either fainted from excitement, or went on strike, I’m not sure which.
Let’s not forget my to-be-revised list, which grows ever longer. Sigh…Think I’m gonna start with Witches, though. Cutting down that 300,000 word behemoth is going to be…tricky, but the characters are talking to me. Or, possibly, I’m hearing voices….Yeah, it could be either one.
Writing question of the day: does anyone else juggle multiple stories at the same time? Some tips would be helpful. And very much appreciated.
The week before last, I hiked the Grand Canyon with my best friend. The original plan was to do the Rim to Rim hike (start on the South Rim, hike down, across, and up the North Rim). That’s not what happened. Instead, I got dehydrated pretty bad on the way down—despite drinking 80 oz. of water (with electrolytes) and snacking on salty foods—so we ended up at the ranger’s station so I could get checked out, since I didn’t have the “normal” signs of dehydration. Then, we stayed overnight at the bottom of the canyon, at Phantom Ranch, and hiked out the next day.
Longest two days of my life.
But I did learn some things on the hike.
“Grand Canyon miles” are not the same as “regular” miles. Not at all. I’m sure the altitude was affecting me more than I could tell at the time, but it took us something like 2 hours to go 1 ½ miles on the way up. Seriously? Yes, I know we were hiking up the freaking Grand Canyon, but both of our trackers said we’d been something like 5 miles, not the measly 1 ½ miles the posted signs claimed.
Hiking the Grand Canyon is not a good way to get over acrophobia. I am terrified of heights. Hiking down the Kaibab trail, which is basically 7 miles of stairs down the face of a cliff, is not a therapeutic way of dealing with this fear. My BFF kept saying things like “Oh, how beautiful. Look!” My response was something along the lines of “Nope. Take pictures. I’ll look when we get back.”…while staying as close to the wall of the canyon as possible, eyes glued to the two foot of ground immediately in front of my feet. My mental reply was more like “Absolutely not! I’m clinging to the side of a cliff and you want me to appreciate scenery?! The only scenery I’d appreciate right now is the flat ground at the top of this canyon. I DON’T CARE!”
Side note: I’m still afraid of heights.
Heed the warning signs. There are signs posted everywhere, at the top of the canyon, on the way down, everywhere, warning people not to hike to the canyon floor and back. They are correct. You shouldn’t do it.
I don’t care how beautiful it is—and it was absolutely breathtaking—nothing is worth the complete misery that was this hike. 7 ½ hours down 7 miles of uneven “stairs” on the side of a sheer cliff, 9 miles up a more-gradual ascent up through a ravine (We took an “easier” trail up. Ha. Where “easier” means “still virtually impossible and insane. But not quite on the very edge of the freaking cliff.). There were times I considered jumping off the cliff, just so it would be over. True story.
This hike is what hell is like. Hiking up, or down (which is worse) interminable switchbacks on the side of a cliff, with no water, while demons run along behind you, stabbing you with a pitchfork at every step. That is what this hike felt like.
Bottom line: I’m glad I got to see the Grand Canyon. I’d have been even more glad to see it strictly from the rim. If you’re ever tempted to hike it, don’t. It’s not worth it. No matter how pretty it is.