Here’s my 4-pronged update:
So I read my entire book over the weekend. I’ve reread chapters before, making notes and revisions. But this was the first time I’ve read the entire book, continuously, from beginning to end. In a nutshell, I exported it to a PDF and made comments throughout as I read, trying to be as much a “new” reader as possible.
It was quite an experience.
Overall, the process took 3 days to complete and the book has about seven hundred million notes. For the first draft, I’m not supposed to nit-pick; it’s about uncovering major consistency flaws and such. But it was so hard not to critique every sentence. Therefore, some of the notes are very minor (“awkward sentence”, “wtf?”) but there are a few significant changes (“rewrite this chapter”, “this doesn’t fit anymore”).
Here are the most notable things that came out of the reading:
1. All in all, the book isn’t bad. I was worried I was going to read it and be like “Oh my God, what is this crap?” Luckily, from a holistic perspective, I didn’t think that. In fact, I actually found myself drawn into several parts. I think that’s decent news for the eight people who read the book. Yeah!!
2. While the book as a whole isn’t bad, there are many, many, many terrible sentences. On one hand, it showed me how much work I have to do. I would say 70% of the sentences will need to be finagled in some way. Some are clunky, some are cheesy (I used the simile “like a two-headed dragon” which made me want to vomit). On the other hand, it’s shown me how much I’ve learned in the last 4 months. The writing seems to get better as I go along. It’s still not where I want it, but I have to appreciate the progress.
3. Although most sentences are bad, I admit there are a few where I was like “Wow! Who wrote this?!” Because so many of my comments were negative I allowed myself little “Like” and “Daaaang!” notes in the PDF.
4. Ultimately, there are two different ways I can structure the book. I *think* I finally decided which one is best. The scary thing is, each way will require rewrites. So if I keep it this way and then change it later, I will have to revise things for continuity. If that happens, so be it. I’m just hoping my gut instinct is right. Actually this structure is what I envisioned early on. But I changed the order thinking it might be easier to digest.
5. When it’s all said and done, I will have completely rewritten more than ¼ of the book. The first mentor guy who provided feedback mentioned flashback and continuity. I tend to jump back and forth during the course of a chapter. I’m attempting to give information as needed, but the mentor said it can be confusing. Also, he said some of the flashback info is so good, it should be given more prominence. After reading the book, he’s very right in most cases. There’s one chapter, in particular, where I was like “WTF is going on? I’m so freaking lost.” Considering I wrote it, that’s probably a bad thing.
6. I mentioned in a previous article that the current book didn’t end where I had planned. I thought about this a LOT and have decided to add an epilogue (that I started writing today). I’m not sure what most writers think about epilogues but I feel this one is needed. It ties up some loose ends and provides a sense of finality that wasn’t there. If it doesn’t end up in the final draft, at least it was good for my own peace of mind.
It finally happened! Hallelujah! Sing songs of happiness and joy! And send homemade chocolate chip cookies!
I was relaxed singing for the first time last Saturday!! I was all like “Take this, songs!”
I don’t know how it happened, but it was quite awesome. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that all 3 songs were quite easy. Maybe it was my special car warm ups that felt really good. Maybe everyone was sending me mojo. Or maybe it was the Ouija board I played with before-hand. Either way, I felt really confident for some reason. I was actually able to get into the singing. And, dun dun dunnnnn, I looked at the congregation for the first time while singing. Before this week, my singing notebook was like the cereal box wall I used to build at breakfast. Sometimes I didn’t even look at the words; I just needed something to take my eyes off the people. But this week I looked around and got to see all those pious faces.
Regarding my singing video, we have the first part recorded and finished. Yay! I’m currently working on part 2 and we will video it this week (hopefully tonight or tomorrow). At this rate, something WILL be ready by the end of the month.
Enjoying the Area
OK because I wrote about it last week, I decided to go on a writing hike. On Friday, I wrapped my laptop in a towel, shoved it in my volleyball bag, and went out to my spot at the Hanging Gardens trail. I also dragged along a portable chair and my new writing cabana:
I tried writing out in the back yard before. Thank God for that! My laptop screen was so dark out in the sun, I couldn’t see a thing. That gave me the urge to look for something that would provide enough shade for me to work. I went to Wal Mart and, as if calling to me, the portable cabana was dangling from the ceiling right by the entrance.
Setting the thing up was really fun. The only instructions were on the box and who brings the box along? It was already in the trash as I assumed paper instructions would be in the bag. Not so. I ended up asking Chris to get it from the trash and text me pictures.
After it was setup, I realized that the ground is rock, complete rock. Not good for the stakes that hold the cabana to the ground. I thought my weight would be enough from keeping the thing steady. But, holy geez, the wind was strong! There were times I was holding the edges down with my hands while my laptop teetered in my lap. Finally, I grabbed a bunch of rocks and piled them in the bottom of the tent. Success:
(NOTE 1: This pic was taken before I added the rocks.)
(NOTE 2: I just realized how ghetto all this was: wrapping the laptop in a towel, using my volleyball bag, taking pictures from the trash, having rocks hold down my tent, etc…)
All in all, it was really fun, me and my janky cabana. And I did get several hours of work done. Reading my book out on the rock was a nice change of pace and I’m planning on doing it again soon. I have to admit that, while I was buried in work, I didn’t even notice where I was at. I could have been at my desk or in a submarine. But, when I came up for air, it was really nice to see the plateaus and hikers moving around below me.
Random Learnings or Stories
Hmmmm I don’t have anything for this section. But next week should be fun.