v2022.4: Small Things

The world is so fragile right now, isn’t it? Fragile, and shattered. Shards everywhere, and chaos. If we’re lucky enough not to be in the spotlight, we’re fighting to stay on our feet every day.

Just me?

Didn’t think so.

Everything around me feels like it’s about to break, but I think most of that is illusion. It’s so hard not to see chaos everywhere. And me being me, I start seeing everything close to me as fragile, even when it isn’t.

Probably isn’t. I don’t want to curse anything. (This is how my brain is working right now.)

Revisions are something of a godsend right now. I kind of enjoy this part, where I wrangle all the messy convoluted drafts into something that starts to resemble a clean, complete story. It’s iterative, and in the early stages – and the mid stages, and the final stages! – I’m never quite convinced I’m going to pull it off. I read things I’ve finished before, and I’m always a little bit stunned that I managed to whack something into shape.

Yes, I had an editor. Two, for the first two books. But THE COLD BETWEEN didn’t have many changes. REMNANTS OF TRUST was in a fairly early stage when they got ahold of it, and that was actually tremendous fun. BREACH OF CONTAINMENT is mostly mine; the editorial feedback I got was excellent, but my work was already in the rear-view mirror when I turned that book in, so my editor couldn’t give me as much time. Them’s the breaks of this business.

I did a number of drafts of ARKHANGELSK with my agent. But when I decided to self publish it, a lot of those changes got rolled back. And I found some structural issues neither of us had noticed before, and I took the time to fix them. I’m very happy with that book, and most of the editing was mine.

For CONDITION OF WAR, all of the editing will be mine. There: I’ve just opened myself up to criticism. Honestly, I’ll be thrilled if enough people read it that somebody takes me to task for the editing.

I thought about hiring a freelance editor. I won’t say I won’t change my mind, but at this point there are two things keeping me from doing it: arrogance and time. I learned so much from my editor for the first three books. And I feel like I did a decent job on the final edit of ARKHANGELSK. Of course, I’m also the rat in the maze, and I worry about that.

But fundamentally…I need to get this done by August, at the latest, so the layout can start. I’ve got a marketing deadline that hits in September; it’ll need to be set in stone before then. Some writers could knock out a few more novels in five months; for me, that schedule is incredibly tight.

On the other hand, if I miss my deadline, I miss it. I have no contract. Except the part where I’ve told everyone it’ll be out in 2022.

My mind is already getting pulled into the next book. I wrote half of it for NaNoWriMo in 2020, and I’ve written the end. The middle – and therefore an entire rewrite of the beginning – has been churning in my head ever since.

I wish I could multitask better. As it is, when bits of New Book bounce around in my head, I have to make notes and set it aside. I need to focus on what’s in front of me. I’ve tried working on two books at once, and it doesn’t really work. But if I can get CONDITION OF WAR done by August…I can start a revision/new draft of this one in September, and have a big push for this year’s NaNoWriMo.

Small things. Things close to me. Not the world. The world is too much. I do what I can, and I know none of us are as helpless as we feel, not really. But for a lot of it…we are helpless. And that hurts. All the time, with every bit of news, flying in from all over the world and next door. The world is shards and edges, and all any of us want is room to look after the small things.

For my trans friends, for my LGBTQ+ friends, for my friends who can get pregnant, for my friends who are neurodivergent, immunocompromised, disabled, feeling singled out and set aside in any way: I wish you the freedom to look after your own small things. Because small things are the best things we have.

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