Monday, November 09, 2009

Progress Report

Taking stock on this Monday morning of where I am with my projects.

KINDRED: still waiting to hear from three agents, while I edit that word count down. Once the edit is complete, I plan to query more agents. But I'd like that wc to be as low as possible before I do. I didn't think another line-by-line edit would accomplish much, but a couple of months with my mind completely on another project has given some objectivity.

WILLA: I completed Chapter 5 this morning, and did a word count on the ms. It's already 16,500K. That's too many words! Where did they all come from? I'm still in Act 1. Steady breath.... I need a few days to let the possibilities for Chapter 6 stew around in my brain, so I've printed out the five chapters and will do a hard copy edit (the best method I've found when it comes to cutting; I see things on the page that I'm blind to on the screen). By the time the edit's done I should have a clear direction about what needs to happen in Chapter 6.

After a stretch of writing first draft, editing in hard copy is like being let out for recess! It's work too, but on an entirely different level. Sort of like the difference between, say, applying paint to a masonite board already gessoed and sanded smooth... and cutting down the tree and feeding it through a shredder and gathering the bits and soaking them in water and stuffing them in a press and creating the board.

Or however masonite is made. I could take the time to research it, but there's a stack of chapters waiting for me and my blue pen.


  1. The computer screen does hide a LOT of mistakes. It's one excuse I had for buying a Kindle. To save on ink and paper I put my docs on the Kindle to edit. Voila, write off!!

    I imagine cutting for length is hard when it all seems necessary. I've never had to do it, but I've had to cut mass chunks that were slowing down my pace and then find something better to replace it with, and it was not easy.

    Best of luck! You have to let us know when you hear from the agents. What's the wait on something like that? Submitting to HM&B is such a different ballgame because it can be unagented and unsolicited, so I'm ignorant of this part of the process.

  2. Maisey,

    From what I remember back in the old days when agents weren't as necessary (like the mid-90s), the wait seems to be about the same as for submitting straight to editors. I've had an agent get back to me with a rejection within hours of an email query (very unusual, but that's how he works, and he says so on his blog), but weeks to months of waiting is the usual. One agent has had the full manuscript since June. I've written a follow up on that one, inquiring about the status, but it hasn't been answered. Patience is a must in this business. And I'm compiling a list of new agents to query with Kindred, once I finish the current edit.

    I've found that time away from a project makes it much more obvious what is really essential, and what is only me indulging in my research, or adding bits that I find fascinating (and readers might too) but aren't moving the story forward. Writing as long as I do, I can't afford to leave those kinds of passages or sentences in. Sadly though. It is hard to cut them. But they still exist in my "director's cut."

  3. I hope that time away from a project insight is true. I've spent too much time away from some WIPs that need editing. Maybe that will be a good thing.

    I like Maisey's idea for using the Kindle.

    I hope your writing and editing continue to go well.

  4. Yep. So much of writing is waiting. I've learned that! A year and a half since I first submitted my MS, three rounds of revisions, and now eighteen weeks since I submitted my latest revisions.

    Interesting that the wait is similar, agented or not. Although, there are people who have heard back from M&B much faster than me, and people who have heard much, much slower. Depends on the editor.

    And yeah, Carla, the Kindle is great for editing! You can even makes notes and marks in it. And I have all my books on it. :-)

  5. Maisey,

    "Interesting that the wait is similar, agented or not."

    I may have misunderstood your original question. I meant that the wait while querying agents was as long as the wait while querying editors. Where you asking how long it takes for agents to submit your work to publishers for you? I don't have direct experience there, but from what I've gathered reading agent blogs, that varies wildly too. I've know authors whose agents got them a deal within a week or so of being contracted. And I've known authors whose agent never could place certain projects that they contracted with the author to represent. Those are the two ends of the spectrum.

  6. Carla,

    Let me know if time away helps in your editing process too. What helps me is separating my heart from it, to a certain degree. Working on a new project (falling in love with Willa, Neil and Joseph) helps me to see what I can cut from Ian and Seona's story, things I would have flinched and cringed from cutting a few months ago. Sweet little digressions in conversations that give interesting tidbits about a character, but Don't Move The Story Forward and won't really matter all that much in the end. I love those bits in books, and would leave them in if my word count wasn't so overblown.

    Hope your writing is going well too. What projects are you working on? Thanks for stopping in to chat. :-)

    Oh, and I was wondering about the Kindle... it's a screen too, right? You guys that have used one, do you not get the same "screen blindness" that I get with a regular computer screen? Or do you see it more like a hard copy page?

  7. Lori-

    Re the Kindle. It is not a backlit screen. It's designed to look like a printed page, and it really does. To me, it's no different than reading a regular print book, and I do most of my reading on it.

    I do have issues with computer screens bothering my eyes. None on Kindle. I bought my mom one as well and she's had no problems with it.

    Re the querying...I was just thinking it's interesting that the process probably takes a similar amount of time. I didn't know it took so long to have an agent get back to you!

  8. I look forward to finally seeing a Kindle one of these days. I had assumed it was a backlit screen.

  9. Should we cross is always with me. :-) Always. And I show it to EVERYONE. Amazon should pay me to have it.