This week my update lands on my birthday by pure co-incidence but it got me thinking about how long it’s taken to get to this point. I’m turning 49 and haven’t published yet. I only started writing around 18 or 19 years ago. I’m not entirely sure when as I didn’t record my first few novel’s start dates. Since then, as I’m a bit of a maths geek, I’ve created a spreadsheet tracking my writing, start and end dates, total number of words written, number of stories per year, words per story. So far I don’t see any trends, but I know that I’ve written 3.8 million words (that’s original words and doesn’t count all the rewriting and editing). All the same I only really started writing in my early 30s. I was probably too busy being sensible and holding down a “real” job to take things further. But as I said before, times have changed and self publishing or being an indie-writer is now a respectable possibility. So I am finally tackling phase two of self publishing, editing. Phase one of course is to actually write something. Editing is time consuming so I worry I won’t have huge amounts to write about on this blog till I actually get to publishing although so far that hasn’t been a problem and it gives me a chance to review the process.
I’m still discovering that editing when you are planning to publish is very different to the editing I used to do when I was writing for my own gratification. I thought I was editing carefully but realised I was a bit slack. I made minor tweaks and left a lot behind as “good enough”. Now I’m actually thinking about potential future readers and I am being far more rigorous in my editing. I’m really thinking about the voices of all my characters, I struggle to make them sound different, but at least now I’m making the effort. I’m also addressing plot holes and inconsistencies. I’m working on a science fiction story and realised I’d taken too much for granted, characters just knew and accepted information that they should have taken more time to discover. It’s quite a job to rewrite that kind of thing and change the pacing. At the moment I’m averaging about 3 pages a day, an absolute snails pace. Still it’s a discipline I need to acquire and will no doubt improve future writing as well.
When I started this project I said I didn’t have any stories that could be turned into series but the subconscious part of my brain has been mulling this over and surprised me. It’s amazing how solutions can just come to you. It occurred to me that some of my really long books, I have one that weighs in at 240 000 words, are actually trilogies. Rather conveniently they all have three very distinct sections of pretty much the same length which could quite easily be divided into three books. On top of that I have a book, a fictional account of a saint’s life, that I wrote as a kind of Decameron. It’s a book with ten stories each divided into 10 chapters. I deliberately kept the chapters short at the time as I didn’t want book bloat but feel that it made the book a bit too superficial and there were themes that I’d like to dig down into. If I divide it into a series of ten books it will give me a chance to explore the work in more detail. So that leaves me with a dilemma; do I keep working on my sci-fi editing, launch the book and then follow it up with something completely different? Or do I switch to the book that can be a series? I feel like I should switch.
Along with the fiction writing I’ve also started to work on a non-fiction book. I care passionately about the planet and feel that traditional conservation methods aren’t helping to arrest decline. It’s time for some innovation and I believe people setting up for themselves will be able to make a difference. So the book will be a toolkit to show why and how they can do this. I’m starting off by interviewing current freelancers in the sector to get a perspective on what’s already happening and have put out a call to invite people to participate.
Finally, I have set up an evening meeting with local writers from the Writers of the Triangle group. I’m looking forward to it already!