The Writing Life: Ain’t No Way But The Hard Way

So it has been a while. I was going to call this Breaking the Silence II, but I decided to share this song with you instead. When I am in the guts of a pool match, and I or my team are a long way behind, I think of that song, and dig in to tough it out. If you don’t give up, amazing things can happen. After overcoming a huge deficit to record an improbable win listening to that song is a lot of fun!

I’m trying to make this a 30 minute blog after my last 30 minute fiction. (I failed, this has taken over an hour what with adding links and testing them etc.)

Since last I wrote a blog, my book was eliminated from the SPFBO. It stung, of course, but there can be only one from 300, and this time it wasn’t mine. Maybe next year. If I get The Killer and The Dead finished in time. I exhort you to check out the final 10 here, the score board is almost complete, the winner almost chosen! I invite you to peruse the top 10 and perhaps pick one for your next fantasy read. I offer my congratulations to all the finalists, and again, my thanks to Mark Lawrence,  the judges, and my fellow writers for making the experience such a positive one.

Yes, I’m still editing. I’m still cleaning dusty tables with chopsticks, one prepositional phrase at a time. I once read a blog by Brent Weeks where he talked about editing and he mentioned “another 11 or 12 revisions” as being required. I can now attest that 11 or 12 is very easy to do. (I’ve now skimmed it again – he doesn’t mention a number, but does hammer home the point of how many times you need to revisit your work.) I have lost track of the number of times I have gone from prologue to epilogue picking through plot points, structures, characters, themes, sentences. And every time I find something new. I still smile, I still get occasionally giddy at what I see, but more often I’m just thinking, working through problems, word choices, echoes, frequencies, trying to balance the colours of the word tapestry I have created.

Could I have overdone it? Can you erase your own voice, crush the life out of your writing? Maybe. My book is full of maybes. But each pass has brought me a moment of certainty – that there I have made a significant improvement, or that at last I have noticed a missing element in a scene, caught a misplaced tense, fixed a wobbly element of continuity that had for so long eluded my eye. As long as that happens it seems each pass was worth it.

So for me there is no road but the long road, and no way but the hard way when it comes to slowly wrestling my words into shape. I am reconciled to it. I think I am close, but I’ve thought that before.

Stay safe out there, keep those masks on, keep washing those hands, keep your distance and help the vulnerable among us survive another season. And that vulnerable one could be any of us, as for all the talk of risk categories it has been shown that anyone can find themselves unexpectedly in a lot of trouble, and their light could be lost to us. The nurse in me asks that you all join in the effort to let that happen to as few more people as possible.

Ain’t no way but the hard way out of a lot of things. We’ve got to get used to it, and push on through. The tide will turn.

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