The purgatory between books. Such a strange feeling, not to be writing.
So the sooner I start again, the sooner I'm out of purgatory.
The task of making "Lucifer's Forge" realistic--or at least, plausible--has been intimidating. But I like the characters and the plot, and I especially like the premise (wildfire fighers versus terrorists.) It's not like that premise won't remain topical.
I just need to have faith that it will all come together.
This is the first test of my new process. I took a full two months away from this book, so hopefully I come back to it with a new perspective. I intend a full rewrite, beginning to end, devoting almost as much time to the rewrite as I did to the first draft.
This is about upping my game.
I think there are three stages affecting the quality of a book.
Stage 1.) How much time and planning I put into it before I start.
Stage 2.) The actual process of writing.
Stage 3.) The rewrite.
All three stages are affected by how much time I devote to each one.
Stage 1, I still haven't managed to do much about, mainly because my writing tends to be rather impulsive.
For instance, after He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named was elected, I looked up "All Along the Watchtower by Bob Dylan because it had the right amount of foreboding to it. I posted it on Facebook with the line: "Bob Dylan: Seer."
For some reason, a short story started coming to me based on the song, so I wrote it. Than a second chapter, and before I know it, I'm writing a novella.
Most of my books seem to start with just these kinds of impulses, and I'm not sure I want to change that.
However, I do occasionally mull over a bigger idea, and for those books, I really need to just pull myself up short and spend a week or two writing notes. For instance, the next Virginia Reed book is going to be about murdered Chinese gold miners in Oregon. So, knowing that, I should sit down and think about it.
Stage 2: I'm happy with this. I've adjusted how much time and how many words I spend each day, how I incubate my creativity, how I fit my real life into the process and so on. I tinker with this, but mostly, I think I've found a very productive method.
Stage 3: This is where I think I can have the most effect. I already know that rewriting is always helpful. I already know that taking time to let it sit is helpful.
So I just need to follow through on this.
The trick for me to to find the proper balance between improving the story and ruining the story. By that, I mean I have a tendency to become rather obsessive, rewriting until I've ruined the story for myself. It doesn't seem to ruin it for others, strangely...it may even improve it. But I can't ruin my own stories and keep on writing, so that is something I have to watch out for.
So...giving it time, both for perspective and to make it not drudgery, is really important. I think a fairly light touch on rewriting is what is needed, not going in and throwing out entire portions or changing things around excessively.
Each time I read a story, I find things to change. But if I do it too often, the words tend to lose meaning, the story fades. Above all, I want to avoid that.
So Stage 3 is a work in progress.