Back at it again

My phone rang this morning and notified me about the upcoming mount Everest I had to start climbing first thing tomorrow morning. It’s been 37 days since the last time I laid eyes on the first draft of my novel’s manuscript and the time has come for me to start editing and revising.

I’m gonna let that sink in for a while. Editing and revising.

The manuscript is 149k words long. I have to trim it down to 110 – 120k, no matter what, and make it more presentable. I also have to rewrite the first 10 or so chapters and condense them to 2 or maybe 3. Then carry on with the actual nit-picking. To be honest, I’m not looking forward to it. Not because I don’t like the book, but because I’m scared.

I’m scared because I think I won’t like anything from it. I’m scared because I’ve never done anything in that scale. Editing short stories somehow seem different now to me (strange, I know; after all it’s the same principle). Most of all I’m scared because I don’t know if my editing skills (which in turn mean my writing skills) are up to the task. In some ways I feel I’m back to square one where I had no work published and I was  uncertain of my ability to produce publishable material. Three publications in so far (fingers crossed to place the rest ones somewhere) and I still feel like a speck of sand that somehow has to reach the top of a mountain the size of Everest.

In those 37 days I wrote 3 short stories and finished translating one of them for a family member who doesn’t speak English, making this past November my most productive month so far. My aim with these stories is to place them all either in semi-pro or professional markets. I probably shouldn’t have high hopes for pro markets as they seem to prefer writers whose writing has something that I still lack. One thing is they have more experience in the craft than me. But I’ll try. If I do manage to get published in any of them (semi-pro or pro) then it will be a TREMENDOUS confidence boost that will reflect in the way I perceive my novel’s worth and my skill as a writer and storyteller. (The stories are now up on Scribophile, so if any of you is a member there and you’re interested in their genres, have a look at them)

Is it strange that I feel so stressed right now? Those of you who made it and traditionally published your books (fiction or non-fiction) did you feel like that as well? Am I experiencing a twisted version of what I should be feeling about the whole process? Or is it that I’m pushing myself too much, in order to prove to myself that I can do it?

What is YOUR dream?

Today I’d like to get as many of you involved into a little exercise. Well, not really an exercise but it may help you get in touch with the feeling that sustained the need you have to write (or had, if you feel you are stuck).

I would like you to write in the comments below what was or is that one dream you have (or had) that you wanted to experience through your writing that would make you feel complete, both as a person and as a writer. I’ll start with mine.

I’d like, in years from now, to sit on a bus or train or a restaurant or any other place, one that I’ve never been before – preferably in another country than my own – and accidentally overhear some people sitting next to me – complete strangers to me, mind you – having the following conversation:

“Have you read [title of book] from Sarantopoulos?”

“Yeah, it was OK.”

Just that. Nothing more. Just two people I have never seen before, who don’t know what I look like but who have read my stories and have deemed them OK for their tastes and their wallets. Not “great” or “amazing” or anything else pompous; just OK. No contracts with absurdly lots of 0’s, no TV contracts or excessive fame, no nothing. Just… OK. What I want, is my stories read by as many people as possible. I don’t care how they get their hands on them, as long as they do.

Now, if I ever get to experience that, then I will know for a fact, beyond any doubt, that I have done well in choosing to write and that I have succeeded in doing so. I’m certain I’ll be sitting next to them giggling, while reading a book or munching down something from the local cuisine, feeling like I’m at the top of the world. Chances are I won’t even introduce myself and let them build their own imaginary picture of me.

I often wonder how achievable this is for someone like me?

Please comment below what you want to get out of your writing. Don’t be shy to whatever it may be. I’m a dreamer so I get to dream stuff like that. You may be a more down-to-earth kind of person so you may have a dream to achieve fame or lucrative contracts that will allow you to carry on writing. Just share your dreams with the rest of us here.

Writing about dreams

I will continue last week’s theme about dreams. Like I wrote last week, the story I’m writing deals with dreams. In it, one of the main characters acts as a conduit between the dream world (which is a plane of existence separated from the four planes that define the material world) and the real world (though one may argue how real can a fantasy world be).

That particular character is supposed to be a tragic one; she has sought for this plane for all her life, eager to gain power and knowledge (that’s what motivates her) and when she finally finds it she fails to realise what this new world actually is and what its denizens plan to do. It’s a bit ambiguous if she found the dream world or if it’s the other way around. That’s up to the readers to tell, when they will judge the character.

Which brings me to the next problem I’m facing: how does one describe a story that is both easy for the reader to understand where things are happening (real world / dream world) and maintain limited omniscient (third person) POV?

One of the ways I chose  to deal with this problem was to change the tense of the narrative.  Another was to occasionally break the narration by interjecting small paragraphs (no longer than a sentence perhaps) that described what the physical body did while the mind was in the dream world (twitches, sweating). I have to admit I’m not sure about this last bit though. It feels odd and… wrong, I guess, to break the narrative.

I have been reading for quite some time a long series of fantasy books (cause that’s pretty much the only genre that really excites me) called Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan. I started reading this story after I decided I wanted to try writing and without knowing that the story was about dreams. I can honestly say that I was happily surprised. The way Jordan describes his version of the dream world (he has given it a very strange name for me to type it here without messing it up) and the interactions of the characters with it is by maintaining the tense and adding things that could only happen in a dream. To me this makes more sense.

Another book I’m currently reading (or listening to, since I have it as an audiobook) is Bag of Bones, by Stephen King. In it, King chooses to change the tense and it works for him. The problem is that whenever the main character has a dream, music kicks in and the listener understands that something’s different. Would it have worked just as good if I was reading it instead of listening to it? I don’t know.

I’m at a loss to be honest and I don’t know which one is best. What do you think? What would you use? Leave a comment if you have an idea. Do you have someone you know who is either writing or has written something about dreams? If so, could you please hook us up here so we can exchange ideas?

Also, please take a minute to answer the poll I had posted last week about a new section that will deal with ideas. So far only one person (thank you by the way 🙂 ) has answered it.

Thank you all and take care!