It’s done! Surviving the Road, my third novel manuscript, clocks in at a hefty 88,415 words.
I’m very excited….
to finish a third manuscript
that was so hard for me to write the ending to
after the first novel in the series was rejected post R&R and I hated these characters for reasons that aren’t their fault
only 7 days after I told myself I would finish it
despite still feeling a bit off from having the flu
Let the dance party commence! Let the celebratory meowchi be ordered! Most importantly… let the rest of the day be a video game day, because tomorrow I have to apply for the Lambda Literary Writers’ Retreat and look into Patreon and start researching other agents to submit Surviving the Plague to.
I missed my Friday update and now my Monday update is going to be combined with the update part. Why, you ask?
A combination of depression and grinding on this manuscript to make up for it.
I’m done with micro-revisions through chapter 23 (of 34). But in the process, I failed to pace myself last weekend, and entirely blew out my brain. I spent several days during the week with my brain going NO NO NO every time I even walked by Scrivener, and forcing it just made me want to go back to bed semi-permanently.
This is why it’s important to know how your mind works when you struggle with something like depression. I deliberately made sure I told the agent longer than I thought I would need so that I could wiggle room if it came to it. After a 2-day enforced break from writing to recharge, I’m again ready to roll. But I’m behind on my own personal deadline by about a week, so off I go!
I’m starting to get my first betas in (including my second-opinion sensitivity beta) and I’ve asked people to get back to me by the 17th, so hopefully I’ll have enough good feedback to go on.
So far, it seems like the changes have largely the suggested improvements from the agent, at least as I understood them. Two people have noted one of the “fixes” as creating more issues, so I’m going to have to take a hard look at that one and either remove it or re-evaluate the presentation.
While I’m waiting on the rest of the betas to get in, I’ve started the process of tedious micro-revisions on the beginning (which has received mostly positive feedback, so I’m sure it won’t require any more major changes). I’m half way through chapter 4 with the micro-revisions, and seem to be able to only do about a chapter a day. This could be problematic as I get closer to my self-set deadline. Especially since this coming weekend is a mess of family commitments.
Fortunately, I have an all-day write-in with CCWA coming up next Saturday, and a few vacation days at the end of July where I should be able to get major work done.
One of my goals is to get back under 80k words. The end of the major revisions saw me at almost 83k words, and ideally I’d like to get back under 79k solely by tuning my prose. I guess we’ll see!
I’m about 22 chapters through the revisions on the Plague Novel, with about 15 to go. It’s really feeling like a marathon at this point, and I’ve fallen behind my goals a little, but I hope to catch up over the upcoming holiday weekend..
It’s hard to believe that it was only two and a half weeks ago that I received a revise and resubmit letter from an agent. It feels like it’s been forever. Fortunately it hasn’t, since I told her that I would get a revision back to her within a few months and doing the things that I say I will do is important to me.
But I’m honestly surprised I’ve gotten as much done this week as I have. Orlando hit me really hard. As well as generally grieving with the community, I found out that childhood acquaintance, one of the people I’ve secretly admired for being out and proud in high school, lost some friends at Pulse. It really drove home for me that it could have been him. It could have been any of us.
It also drives home for me that the writing I do is necessary, the stories I want to publish are necessary. It’s easier to hate things that you don’t understand. We need queer stories.
So I ducked my chin and muscled through. I finished writing the prologue last weekend and I’m done with revisions based off the notes I took last week through Chapter 9. A lot of the heavy lifting and major scene changes take place in the first few chapters (though there’s at least half a chapter I intend to rewrite in the late-mid section) so I’m feeling pretty good about my pace so far. I’m still on target to get the revised version to my new set of beta readers by the end of the month.
I’ve slightly revised my intentions about my order of operations, though. I’m going to send it off to betas after the major pass revisions and, while they’re reading, work on the minor pass revisions–the tweaks to spelling, grammar, and sentence structure. This will prevent me from sitting on my hands for a week or two while I’m waiting for people to get back to me. While normally I’d just use that time for working on other writing, I want to stay laser-focused on the Plague Novel for now.
This week was a heavy writing week. Yesterday, I finished rereading the Plague Novel and taking notes about things to revise and places to strengthen with the agent’s feedback in mind. Today, I’ve been working on a prologue.
Agent feedback thus far seems to work a lot like writing group feedback: a list of issues that I, as the writer, must decide whether to address and, if so, figure out solutions to. So now I have 32 handwritten pages of notes, thoughts, and possible fixes that I made as I went through the novel.
Part of me is embarrassed that my past self thought this was good enough to submit. It just goes to show that the more you practice an art, the better you get at critically evaluating your past work. I had to keep reminding myself that the purpose of this exercise is to fix it–I’ll rebuild it stronger and into a form that current me can be proud of.
And I’m well on the way. This weekend’s work will include finishing and revising the prologue and starting to work on the revisions that I noted. It’s going to be a struggle to stay away from small-scale sentence level stuff, but I’d like this first pass to focus on the larger issues. Only after I have the major revisions done will I give it a final fine-tooth pass before sending it to new beta readers.
My personal deadlines for myself are set and in my calendar. As long as I keep trekking forward at my present rate, I should have it back to the agent when I said I would.
This week has been a little crazy. The early week was spent finishing the first draft of a short story, another short set in the tattoo magic world, in which the story I posted a few weeks ago was set.
Then something amazing happened on Tuesday. I received a “revise and resubmit” email from one of the agents who requested a full manuscript of the Plague Novel. This is kind of a big deal, since it was really the best thing I was expecting as an unpublished, untested writer. Especially from an agent as strongly promotional of diverse and LGBTQ+ books as this agent is (we’re talking the top of my short list, guys). After reading the email five or six times, I found that I agreed with the deficiencies that she identified in my story, and I let her know that I would be revising with her suggestions in mind.
Cue hard gear change. The rest of the week has been devoted to re-familiarizing myself with the plague novel, taking notes, and noting where I might make changes to address the concerns. Keeping in mind that I’ve written one full and a second partial novel with completely different characters and settings since I finished the Plague Novel, it has kind of been a process. I’m also spotting an embarrassing amount of typos and things that I really should have caught before sending it out on submission. Oh well, it’s too late to beat myself up about that now.
I’m hoping to get this revision done within the month, have a new round of betas, and do a second revision based on the betas before sending it back. I want to get this done in a timely way but without rushing. My goal is to have it ready to send back to the agent after two months, but definitely within three. Wish me luck!