Editing update #4

Hi everyone!

Well, it’s hard to believe that almost two months have gone by since the release of Souldier. If you’d asked me where I expected things to be in two months’ time, I don’t think I could have answered, but suffice it to say, I’ve been overwhelmed by the support I have received.

To everyone who has set aside the time to give it a read, who has reached out to me with feedback or liked or supported my writing in any way, thank you. Your comments have settled me, given me insight into the direction to keep things moving, and made my day more than once, and I am eternally grateful for each and every one of you.

With the first volume out the door, then, what am I up to now?

Working on volume two, of course!

The good news there is that everything is still on track to publish it sometime around halfway through the year.

The bad news is that at the start of January, I ran into the greatest bout of writer’s block since the series began.

It might sound strange to encounter writer’s block on something that’s already been written, but volume two is an important one to me in more ways than one. After all, I wrote it during a time when external events affected myself and many of the people I knew at the time quite deeply, and those of you who have read the first volume can guess at some of the themes that might already appear in it.

In short, some care is needed.

This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered writer’s block during the series; in fact, it’s happened quite a bit. Most of the time, several hours, days, or – in this case – even weeks of introspection follow, during which all the worst possible emotions seem right at hand. Am I a terrible writer? Am I following the wrong direction? Maybe I was never meant to do this in the first place.

The voices go on and on.

Despite the negativity, time has shown me a more positive side to writer’s block as well. As I struggled with problems past and present, I came to find it isn’t so much a lack or ideas or inspiration, but that I need to spend more time listening to the characters. Writer’s block is like running into a brick wall during a marathon – the answer is rarely to keep moving forward, but to change direction instead. And it’s the characters who’ll tell you when something isn’t quite right, that they’re actually feeling a different way to the one you wanted to portray.

A few techniques can help, too. In my case, running is the most common cure. No matter how much sitting down and staring at a screen I do, there’s something about getting outside for a while that not only helps me move, but gets my thoughts running, too.

Safe to say, things are moving again now.

In other news, one or two readers have asked me to do some matchmaking so that they can go over some ideas about what’s going on in the story. If you’ve got any budding suspicions or have anything you’d like to go over, I’ve created a general discussion thread on Goodreads so that you can find some other readers –

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/21865004-souldier—general-discussion-thread-spoilers

Got questions of a more direct nature?

I’m pleased to announce that after some wrangling, the Adjutant Corps have agreed to let me send some messages down the Line. If there’s anything you’d like to ask Vivian, send it along to me and I’ll pass it down the relay, then post the responses here on the site once she’s found some time to respond. Keep in mind that she’s a bit sensitive about certain topics at the moment, but she assures me she’ll make every effort to answer everything she can.

Until next, may the day be yours.

Editing update #3

Finishing something – actually finishing it, once and for all – is a curious thing.

I’ve been sitting on this story for almost twenty-three years now, and in that time, I’ve re-written and re-approached it so many times that it’s almost hard to imagine it as a real and solid thing. Somewhere along the way, however, the rough edges have gotten smoother, the characters more real, and the scenes most important to the story stronger than the rest.

We’re still about three months away from the final publication date, and with a first draft in place, it might be hard to imagine what could possibly take so much time to complete. There’s work, of course, and other life events that dictate the amount of time I can spend editing, but more so than that is the sheer volume of things to do.

Most importantly, the closer I come to finishing the manuscript – to actually finishing it, once and for all – the more I’m becoming aware that these words that have been bouncing around inside my head for so long are themselves about to be decided, once and for all. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s also at this moment that the mind begins to wonder – have I been creative enough? Is this sentence quite right, and what does it mean to finish something, anyway?

The good news is that, after several weeks of constant editing and re-working, I’m happier with the story than ever before. Years of growing practice have helped me understand some of the areas I can improve, as has the feedback from a small group of dedicated beta readers whose praises I’ll be singing as we draw closer to the publication date. I’ve finished most of the major edits now, and am focusing on sentence-level changes, spot edits, and making sure the details of the world itself are right instead.

In short, there’s still more to come, but it’s all moving along.

Editing update #2

Hi everyone!

Two more weeks of editing and things are both ahead of and maybe-kinda-sorta just on schedule.

Let me explain –

Each volume in the series comprises two parts, and each part is a standalone arc with its own themes and conclusion that feed into the broader story. According to my original plan, I’d set aside one month to review each of the parts in the first volume, then another to review the story as a whole. Instead, I made it through both in the very first month, and I now have the remaining two to ensure the details are correct and that everything flows as smoothly as it can.

It’s also made me aware of a host of other things as well. Each pass over the text reveals more areas to tweak or fix up, and through this process, I’ve made two important realisations:

  • Writing a story feels a lot getting the keys to a hidden mansion and opening up the doors. At first, you’re aware of the general dimensions and possibilities of the place, but it’s only when you explore each room that you understand how they’re all laid out. Likewise, it’s only when you’ve explored them all that you understand how the mansion comes together. Even though something might have been staring at you all along, it’s only when you reach this point that you see it’s out of place (or right at home).
  • Some scenes and conversations are easy to re-write or touch up, but others resist all attempts at change. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the latter are often some of the most important in the story. The emotion you felt at the time of writing is so crucial to these scenes that even the smallest changes can set everything off track. With that in mind, it is possible to edit something into oblivion, but sometimes, it takes several days of attempted re-writes and changes to fully understand that fact, update one or two sentences that make everything just right, then leave the rest alone.

Everything’s moving along as fast as it possibly can, but there’s still a great deal more to be done. My wife and I sit around in the late hours of the night after meetings debating logos and symbols, and I’m spending every spare minute in helping it all move ahead.

I’ll provide more updates again soon.

Until then, may the day be yours.

Editing update #1

Hi everyone!

It’s been a few weeks since my first entry, so about time for a quick update on where things are.

In short, it’s been a learning experience.

I knew my writing style and understanding of the characters had evolved over the first few entries in the series, but it was still surprising to come back to the first one. Not so much the major elements, but definitely small things like smoothing out transitions, adding to or removing from descriptions, and making conversations more natural. After running through everything a few times, I’m happy to say a first pass is now complete, and I am moving on to more detailed checks.

There are a few more things in the works as well.

My wife (and collaborating creative) has gone to the drawing board on logos and cover designs, and the number of visual diaries and pens in the house is on the rise. I’ve also made my first foray into the world of Twitter, which you can follow on here for some more frequent updates and thoughts –

Most importantly, I want to extend a very deep and heartfelt thank you to everyone who reached out and took the time to read my first entry in the last few weeks. I had no idea what to expect, and you ended up helping generate more than one hundred views of the article on that first day alone, which was far beyond my wildest dreams.

There’s a great deal more to come, and I hope you can stick around for the ride as I start uploading a few more general posts and details in the weeks to come.

For now, may the day be yours.