So it’s Tuesday, and I meant to blog every week, but I guess I missed last week. I was wild–terrible pun intended–about finishing the second edition of The Wild Half and getting it up on Amazon. Now that’s done, I’m at that between stage that writers hit when the imagination hasn’t quite left the old characters behind, but the new story has enough unknowns that it’s just a little bit scary. I meant to give myself two weeks off to research and do some web work and maybe clean the house, but from experience, I know that the longer I leave that next story–Running Wild–off for the future, the scarier it will become.
Of course it shouldn’t be scary at all. After all, it’s done. It was done two years ago. Star and Nick have had their romance, and what’s more–this is very important for me as a writer–I know what happens after The End. They have lived and breathed, and they are still there, in the back of my mind, like friends who have moved to another state and I don’t see much anymore, but still check in with from time to time. So going back to that story for final edits shouldn’t be scary.
But it is. You know how it is when you haven’t seen someone for a long time, someone you really, really like, but you’re a little nervous about that first dinner date or whatever? That’s how this feels. Only it’s a bit worse, because I know that I am not really going to just edit this book. I’ll be making revisions. Why? Does it need them? Probably not. It’s a good story all by itself. I love these two characters, I really love their relationship and the other characters are long-time friends of mine–Lee, Jess, Ward, Morgan, Melinda etc. I’m introducing new characters as well, people readers don’t know yet but have stories of their own, which I am very excited about writing. Honestly, I could just edit Running Wild and put it up.
But I won’t. Partially because I can’t–I’ll read it and want to change things, it’s my nature. Also, because I can change things. When I wrote the first draft of The Wild Half many years ago, I broke rules. Lots of ’em. Mostly because I didn’t know there were rules. It took many years of hard work to learn them, and to learn to write according to those rules, no matter how much I didn’t want to. If a writer didn’t follow the rules, the book would not be published, end of story. So I tried very hard to conform.
And then came e-pub and Freedom. E-publishing means you don’t have to know the rules, never mind follow them. Joy, joy, joy! Without going into those rules, and the reasons they are there to begin with (and there are very good reasons) the biggest, most painful rule for me has always been word count. Most of the writers I know struggle with it, and most of them fight to reach the 50 or 60 or 70k word count. Oh, would that I had that problem! I’ve got the opposite.
The Wild Half, first draft, was over 200k. It took years to bring it down to 150k, then 130k, finally 100k. I cut a lot out. 100k hit bare bones “just the facts, ma’am” and I did it so I could submit it to publishers. When I decided to e-pub it though, and started to go back to edit and revise, the count started to go up. But so what? One of the reasons publishers keep the word count low (in my opinion–others would call it too high!) is due to the cost of paper. But with e-publishing, paper is not a problem. Oh, how saying that makes me smile! So I could add words if I wanted, as much as I wanted. And I did. In the end, The Wild Half is about 108k words.
Granted not everybody is going to like that. And I did try to limit the wordiness that I can certainly be accused of. It’s a habit now, to fight every last adjective, adverb, etc. I tried to make the additions important and in the end, I feel like that’s where I ended up.
Anyway, back to Running Wild. When I wrote this book, I was very, very conscious of that word count, but now. . . well now I don’t have to be anymore, do I? And there is this big load off my shoulders and an almost giddy delight at being able to add and make it. . .more. But more what? That’s where the fear comes in, I think. I have this option of making the book better (and ignore the screaming voice in my head saying “less is more!”) but in what way? Description? Introspection? Emotion? Plot? Secondary character development? Bad guy development? Motivation? Where? I don’t know. I’m afraid to open up the file and have a good long look at it. I have ideas but will they work? Will I only be making the book different and not better? I don’t know.
And so that is where I sit today and these next two weeks. At some point, I’ll put on the playlist I’ve created for Running Wild, blare it so loudly that I can’t hear the negative voices in my head, open the file and take a peek here and there. It’s the only way I can do it. At some point–sooner rather than later, I think, because the longer you put something off, the scarier it becomes–I will start to make decisions. What they will be, I do not know. We’ll see. All I know for sure is that, at some point, it will be fun.