Done

Done | Guy L. PaceDone.

Nothing is ever–really–done. Especially writing.

I see places in Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers where maybe I could have written them a little better. Why? because I keep going back and re-reading parts. I read parts for events. Nothing brings a rough passage, a poor choice of words or phrase to the front like reading it aloud in front of an audience.

As I work through the first round of edits on Carolina Dawn from my editor and my “first reader” (wife) I find little phrases to improve and events to make more exciting. That means the editor will need to see these. And, I’ll have to go through it to review and accept the editor’s changes when it comes back.

You have to have the will and determination to stop. You must put the work down and move on to production. The whole point is to get it to readers. But, you want to get the very best possible story to your readers. So you give it one more pass through.

The problem with this is that every time you make changes, you have to run those changes before another set of eyeballs. You need that third party to look it over to make sure you haven’t made a horrible mistake, misspelled something, or made hash of a paragraph.

At some point in the process of writing, editing, rewriting, revising, and editing some more … you have to stop. Accept the editor’s changes, save the file and start formatting it for e-book and print. If you don’t, you’ll be stuck in this cycle forever.

Keep writing.

(Note: If you haven’t read the first two books, it might be a good time to do so. That way, you’ll be ready for Carolina Dawn when launchsd.)

 

The Hole

The Hole

The Hole | Guy L. PaceThe things you discover in your travels can change the way you see certain life events. Or, certain people.

This week’s post is just a placeholder for next week. There were travels. There were discoveries.

Things learned.

It all started with a desire to find out more about my maternal grandfather.

Lee Frank Harrison.

More to come next week.

Keep writing.

 

 

Poor Choices

Poor Choices

Choices | Guy L. PacePeople sometimes make poor choices. Sometimes they turn out okay. Sometimes they don’t.

Unfortunately, our history is full of people who made poor choices and/or led others to bad ends. We learn about the Donner Party in school, and how poor choices all along their way across the West brought them to the winter camp near Truckee Lake. They took the Hastings’ Cutoff, promoted by Lansford Hastings, a poorly considered option to the well-known Oregon and California trails. Of the 87 (or 90) souls who took Hastings Cutoff, only 45 survived.

Meek Cutoff, another poor choice along the Oregon Trail, cost the lives of almost 50 souls of the more than 1,000 led across Central Oregon. Steven Meek, to his credit, wasn’t working from a complete lack of information. He d visited the Harney area during a good water year and it looked promising. When he arrived in 1845 with more than 1,000 emigrants, what he saw was the results of one or more drought years.

Meek Cutoff | Guy L. PaceBy the time the wagon trains taking the Meek Cutoff reached The Dalles on the Columbia River, 25 of their number died. Adding the Elliott Cutoff and some other changes to crossing points made the cutoff workable.

The Goodale’s Cutoff came about when “John Jeffrey began promoting a trail following traditional Shoshoni paths to generate business for his ferry on the Blackfoot River.” It got more use after the Northern Shoshone and Bannock started resisting the numbers of white settlers passing through their lands. Massacre Rocks State Park now provides some information to visitors to that area.

Goodale’s Cutoff

Goodale’s Cutoff wasn’t a bad choice. As the web site suggests, seven of ten wagons coming through after 1863 took that cutoff. The first leg of the journey through what is now Arco, and Craters of the Moon, was hard on wagons and their owners. If you’ve ever been to the Craters of the Moon, put yourself in the place of immigrants seeing that for the first time. Imagine how depressing and discouraging that landscape looked to a family in a covered wagon. The National Park Service provides more information. But, put simply, most wagon trains crossed there in full summer (July). The route was one lane, slow, and the lava beds and dry heat took a toll on the wood wagons.

There are almost always consequences to a choice, be it good or bad.

We, as authors, would like to think our main characters won’t make bad choices. They are, after all, the heroes. Right? But, if you want your hero more real, more human, he/she will make a poor choice once in a while. And, there will be consequences. Maybe not as dire as the Donner Party. Even Goodale’s Cutoff was a choice between two dangerous routes. You might not survive the one, and you might die on the other.

Give your character choices. Make them real. Add danger. Make sure the results, the consequences, fit the plot.

Keep writing.

 

 

Confidence

Confidence

Confidence | Guy L. PaceWe usually express confidence outwardly. It shows in our body language, dress, attitude, and how we communicate with others.

Or, lack of confidence.

Or, in the example provided by the image here, questionable fashion sense?

Okay, I’m really not one for criticizing other’s fashion taste, though. My wardrobe consists of t-shirts with pockets and jeans. Hmmm … getting off track a little here.

At one panel at the Spokane Science Fiction and Fantasy convention (SpoCon) I listened to fellow authors talk about confidence. When it came down to honest confessions, most said the same thing. While we know our first drafts are awful, we tremble in fear that we will be found as frauds when we submit our work. That’s basically true across the board.

This is familiar territory for men. We spend most of our lives in desperate fear we’ll be found out, and worry we aren’t good enough, smart enough, talented enough, or <whatever> enough. We hold ourselves up to co-workers and find ourselves lacking, and we beat ourselves up regularly. In truth we’re capable, strong, smart, and talented. It is just to hard to admit.

Yellow Jacket

Take the guy in the image with the yellow, double-breasted jacket. He is either, based on the impression, supremely confident and courageous. Or a complete idiot. But, when you compare yourself to certain best-selling authors, they look like that guy in the yellow jacket and you might feel like me–a guy who shows up in jeans and a t-shirt. They act, speak, and lecture like they know everything and the world turns on them. But who are they really?

Is their first draft gold? Does it go to press unchanged, unsullied by an editor? Does that best-selling author struggle with self-confidence after that first draft, wondering if it rises above the 90 percent that is crap in Sturgeon’s law?

What you find out in conventions–especially small, intimate ones where best-selling authors are honest and forthcoming–they struggle with confidence just like the rest of us. They know their first draft is awful. They rewrite, revise, and self-edit before getting more professional help. Just like the rest of us.

One difference is they (those best-selling authors) have been at it longer and manage to find a public persona to present to the world. They get up in the morning, put on that yellow jacket, and lecture to students, meet the adoring public, or get interviewed by the media.

It’s when they take off that yellow jacket and sit down and share with folks at a con, you get to meet the real person and find out they aren’t really any different.

Keep writing.

 

 

Craft

It’s About the Craft

craft | Guy L. PaceWriting is a craft. An art. A skill you hone and improve with practice and time–seasoned with blood and tears.

When you first start writing, your clumsy, stilted prose dribbles down the page. Your words flow in sluggish sentences with passive verbs and all to many adverbs. Your dialog shouts with too many words.

As you practice and improve, you find efficiencies in voice and style. Sometimes you try to imitate another writer’s style to see how things fit. Still, more words end up in the trash bin than in the submission envelope.

Finally, something changes. Your writing becomes a craft. An art. You develop your own style and your own voice. You may still have one roadblock. Fear. You fear letting your feelings, secrets, desires, or beliefs out on the page. What if someone reads that?

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.”Ernest Hemingway

Papa says it best. He also says it concisely and briefly. Your fears try to keep you from getting the hurt, the emotion, the beliefs out on the page. What you may not know: You’re not alone in those things. You are not the only one who hurts, who believes what you do, who feels the way you do about something. You’re not the only one with That secret.

A Service

One of the great services writers do in society is sharing those hard things so others know they are not alone. If you hold it all back, others can’t learn and you’ll always be alone. The story must come out.

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.”Ernest Hemingway

Then, write another. And another. Repeat until you’re done and you told the story.

Look, it if were easy, it wouldn’t be a craft or art form. Everyone could do it and stories or novels would have little or no value. So it isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done. One more quote from Papa.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” — Ernest Hemingway

The main thing, keep writing. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Keep improving and learning. Someday you’ll write something others will find and value. Then you’ll know it was all worth it.

Keep writing.