Not A Word To Waste, The Horror Of Redrafts #WeekendCoffeeShare

This weekend the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge is taking place. Last month I posted my entry for the second challenge of the first round: Stolen Silence and at the moment I’m working on redrafting my submission for the first challenge of this year’s first round.

Redrafting is the part of the process where you quite often find yourself doubting that you have any ability to put one work in front of the other at all. You find typos, spelling mistakes, words that you didn’t even know existed. Tenses switch back and forth, character names suddenly change, and out of nowhere you move from mountains to city surroundings. Editing is where all your mistakes come to the forefront and you have to go back and fix them.

If you’re luck you will have brilliant people who will help you with your redrafts and edits. These people (if you can find the ones that will give you an honest review rather than just ‘yeah mate, good job’) are invaluable for getting your past that snow-blind stage where you can’t see the words for the prose. Distance from your work can help, but I often find a fresh pair of eyes will pick apart of poem or story far more effectively than I ever could.

I’ve been very luck, I’ve always had friends who were interested in reading and writing so I’ve always had people to run work past. At the moment there is someone reading my poetry collection ‘All In The Blood’ for me, and someone else who has been giving feedback on my NYC submission. For both it has been less about being told what is wrong with my writing, or what is right, but about being challenged to look at my work through a different lens. More often than not this means I go back and take another shot at saying whatever it was I was trying to say.

So, my top tips for editing and redrafting.

  • Try not to send out first drafts. Do a little redrafting yourself before exposing your child to the elements.
  • Remember that you’re asking someone for their opinion. You don’t have to agree with it, but you asked for it so be polite when they give it.
  • Think about the comments your editor makes and even if you don’t go in that direction, think about why they have been made. You might find it sends you off down a different avenue of thought.
  • If your story has an element that you’re not familiar with in it, try finding someone who is familiar. I don’t always believe in the ‘write what you know’ but you should at least ‘write what you’ve researched’.

Now, enough procrastinating, I have a story to redraft, a poetry collection to edit, and a novel to corral. As they say, no sleep for the writer.

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If We Were Having Coffee: Novel Redrafts And Flash Fiction Competition #amwriting

It’s been a while since I’ve written a Weekend Coffee Share post, months in fact, but I’m currently supposed to writing an entry for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Competition so this seemed like the perfect way to procrastinate.

Project StatsI signed up late for Camp NaNoWriMo this month. At the start of the month I was debating whether or not I was going to have a crack at it and decided not to because I tend to find that writing purely for word-count goals make it even harder for me to get myself into the right frame of mind for writing. That said, havingĀ  a goal in mind does help drive me forward on projects so when I started rewriting my Shadow Dawn novel around the 10th July, I decided that I’d set myself a 30,000 word goal for the month and use Camp NaNoWriMo to help me hit that target. I’ve got more time to focus on my writing this month asĀ  I’m still waiting for the result of my last AAT Level 3 exam which means I haven’t got any studying to do. However, other social engagements are taking up most of my weekends so my current progress has been limited to what I can write during my lunch hour at work. Hence the pitiful looking bar chart above.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, I’m also taking part in the NYC Midnight’s Flash Fiction competition. The deadline for round one is 4am (GMT) so I’ve got the rest of this afternoon to sort out my 1,000 words story and submit it, even if the heat is making it almost impossible for me to get on with anything. I’d rather melt than write at the moment so I’m hoping hammering out a post might encourage me to hammer out a thousand words of fiction in a few minutes time. I can easily write a thousand words in a hour so a first draft should be straight forward, I just wish the weekend wouldn’t slip past me so quickly.

*Note: It’s now almost five in the evening as I’ve been procrastinating from writing this post as well. I really need to learn to just get on with things.*

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Tomorrow will mark DVerse Poets Pub coming back off their two week break, something I’ve been looking forward to since their first day of absence. For the last fortnight I’ve been desperate for poetry prompt so I can’t wait until Monday’s Quadrille night.

I’m also trying to work out how to take my poetry to the next level on this poem. When going through the stats on this site I realize that I only reach about fifty views per post most of the while so I’d really like to start bumping that number up. I suppose the upside to that total is that my view total stays quite close to my likes total so I can see that most people who read the poems, go on to liking them. I just need to find a way of getting more people reading them.

Other than that there isn’t much going on this weekend. I hope yours have been slightly more productive than mine and I will now go off and get this flash fiction piece written for NYC Midnight before I find a way to procrastinate right up to the deadline. All the best for the next week and thanks for reading.

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Dealing With A Bad Review

There are more than a few days when I wake up and wonder if my little foray into self-publishing was an utter mistake. Then I remember that there was a purpose behind choosing that option for Before The Words Run Out and even if the bad reviews leave me feeling like someone has filled my insides with snakes, there were some good reviews as well.

I went into self-publishing with no idea what I was doing and most importantly, no editor. That was clearly a big mistake and not one I would be quick to make again. Despite spending hours pouring over my work it is still clear that I needed someone there to pick out those twinges that I still missed and to push me harder with the poems that didn’t come up to standard.

This morning was the first day in months that I actually went on amazon to check out my book in order to pull out a link and update my Linked In account. I assumed that like me, most of the world had let this little adventure of a book slip to the bottom of the barrel unnoticed, to languish among the many other rashly self-published books lurking out there on the big, wide web.

Instead I found a two star review from last September, a year to the month and my confidence took an impressive swan-dive into solid concrete.

There is an odd mix in Miss Forrester’s anthology ranging from fairly OK poems to dire. The whole package in fact is poorly executed which takes away from the occasional good piece and makes the immaturity of it all painfully obvious, being both patronising and arrogant at the same time. “So far I have won no awards…” Really, dear?

All in all, I think it was too early for Miss Forrester to be publishing and a few more years worth of waiting and planning would have made all the difference.

They’re right of course. It probably was to early for me to be publishing and even now I would be hesitant to follow the same route. That is why I’m going to stick Darkened Daughter through the traditional route, mostly because it needs someone who knows what they’re doing to beat it into shape and to show me what it takes to get something to the store shelves.

I’m not going to cry over this review. It sucks and I feel horrible about it, [actually that might be the virus currently working its way through my body] but I’m willing to accept that this review serves a purpose.

The purpose is reminding me that I need to improve and really think about what I’m putting out there.

I will always find people who will tell me that my work is good. Everyone can find someone to tell them that their work is good and you can also find someone on the other end of the spectrum. The important thing is taking all that and using it to drive you forward. Most of the copies that I had printed of my book were sold to members of my family or friends who knew my family well. A lot of the poems held additional meaning to them because they knew some of the subjects and they could remember the situations that sparked the poems.

So I will follow this advice’s review and keep working and hopefully in a few years I can publish something that does live up to standards.

It hurts of course. Piece likes Grandfather and the likes were in my opinion some of my best works, but when you put something out there you’re going to get negative feedback and I knew I would be opening myself up to this sort of review. They may have been my favourites, but they were still open game for the reader.

So now I’m going to trawl through the comments on this blog and read the ones telling me that I am in fact a rather a good writer and my work is amazing. I need the confidence boost.

Tell me, how do you guys feel about bad reviews and moving forward?