Friday, August 9, 2013

Explaining the Jenn-Brain

I was thinking today that people don't really understand my methodologies when it comes to writing. You might have had a clue when I went ape-shizz on aspiring writers a while back. But that was more about me frustrated than anything else.

Here's what's set me off today: I have discovered a few indie authors who like to set pub dates before they are done writing the books.

*jaw hits floor* 

Honest, I don't understand this. I really don't. For me a novel, writing for 4 to 6 hours a day will take 10 weeks to produce- if I'm lucky. There is no guarantee that life isn't going to come up to me and smack my ass into the ground. (It's wont to do that, FYI.) So we're usually talking 4 to 6 months to write a book.

On top of that, there's no guarantee that those will be consecutive months. I get writer's block and writer's boredom* a lot. I'll wander into another universe and start writing there. This usually happens twice in each book. Once about 1/3 to 1/2 way to done, and then about about 7/8th done. I have to think about how I want to wrap everything else up. And sometimes, it's a very long time before I can get back to the story, either literally or mentally. I have a story currently sitting about 2/3rds done, and I know what has to happen but... I just don't feel like writing the boring exposition that will get me over the hump. So I wandered out of LA and into Pittsburgh for a while. My record for this is 25 years. Yes, you read that right. I have a few others that I've been writing for 15 years, and they are in the same state.

And that only gets me what I like to call "vomit copy", where I spew the idea down on [virtual] paper. I also have a very firm belief that just because I'm done writing the book, it's not mature. Like a good beer or a fine wine, it has to ferment for a while. In the case of the book I'm now considering for publication, that would be 4, 5 years now. But even if it were something more recent, we'd still be talking about 3 months, no less than, before I touched it again after writing the words 'the end'. I put it in the drawer and walk away from it. Kind of like a souffle, don't open the over door! It's baking, and you'll ruin it!

I would say the fastest edit I've ever done was the one I just finished. It took me (and someone else) about 6 weeks to comb through and clean up. And that was rushed. Really, really rushed. The editor wanted more time! (Which, to his credit, we were under a very bizarre and sudden deadline.) For me alone, sometimes the editing takes six weeks alone, and still needs a spit and polish before I sent it to the beta readers. If the beta readers can get it back to me in four weeks, I'll have 4 more weeks of revision, minimum.

There there's formatting (which I do on my own because I used to do that for a living), that can take a week, and cover design. Thus far, I've done my own. So that alone is going to be a week-- if I have an idea. Otherwise it's a painful brainstorm session about a week long, as long as another week to gather the stuff for the cover (I usually use live photos) and then the week to put it together.

Let's put this Jenn-Brain in a graphic!

For the sake of this actually showing on a chart, I've minimized the maximum
to just 3 years. Otherwise, you can't see jack shit on the chart below. 

Not Pictured: Screwing around with Excel like she knows what she's doing... 

So, you can see that with the numbers above, we're talking about a minimum of 9 months for this process and, according to the chart, about 6.5 years otherwise. 

This is way I work. I've been writing my whole life, and this is the process that works for me. I think that of all the things that I do, the marination/fermentation process is the most important. You can't edit a book so quickly because you know what you meant to say, and that's what you're going to read. You have to get out of your own way. 

It's only when I get through that first edit that I can, in good conscience, start thinking about a pub date. Before that is no-woman's-land. Don't go there, don't ask me about a release date. It's not done, it's not in the barrel yet. Letting it settle and allowing me to get out of my own head about it makes the book that much better when I'm done.

So, I don't know how you all do it, but God love you. I don't think there's a force on earth that could me to release a book in less than 38 weeks from start to finish. 

Hey. It's kind of like having a baby. I guess if Mother Nature thinks 9 months is a good time frame, I'm in good company! 

*I made that up. Sometimes, I get sick of hanging out with my characters, especially after they've done something really stupid. I have to walk away just like I would in real life.  

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