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Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I've just handed in the copy edited draft...

... of my second novel. To my UK publishers, at any rate; there will be another round of copy editing in the States, as the publication dates are different. (It'll be March 2009 in the UK, some time in autumn 2009 in the US.)

Copy editing is hard work. I've copy edited other people's books, and it demands tremendous powers of concentration: you have to be able to spot when somebody is contradicting themselves, which means holding a lot of information in your head about who had blue eyes on page 24 and has green ones on page 427, and who had never seen a live dingo before on page 398 but is shown with a dingo best friend on page 90... Copy editing is a feat of focus and intelligence that I have a great deal of admiration for.

Checking over your own copy edited manuscript is not the most fun part of writing a book. The woman who did the manuscript I've just handed back is a delightful person and fun to work with, so I'm fortunate in that respect, but going through the book page by page, looking at all the marks, can be a slog. The marks tend to fall into two categories: small changes to a piece of punctuation or a word somewhere, which involve a surprising amount of nail-biting to make decisions about, or the identification of serious continuity mistakes, which are even worse, because sometimes you find you've wired an impossibility into the plot and it takes a lot of hacking and soldering to fix. Ellah spotted one place I'd contradicted myself where I had to spend a whole day letting it mull, because resolving the contradiction was such a difficult choice; after a day's mulling, I wound up rewriting about four sentences. That's how much agonising goes into it.

All of this is extremely necessary: the editor is your guardian angel who stops you from embarrassing yourself in public. And while I'd love to pretend that I'm a perfect person who never makes any mistakes in my books, this novel took me two years to write, and if there's anyone out there who's managed to go two years without making a single mistake ... well, I'd like to meet them and hire them to run my life, please. Everybody makes mistakes in first drafts. It's not something to worry about while you're writing, and it's not something to get upset about when you're rewriting either. It's just one of those things.

But it's one of those tiring things, too, and I'm feeling a bit creatively worn right now. So, I'd like to put two questions to you. One: what do you do when you want to recharge your creative batteries? And two: as I'm feeling a bit short of ideas just at the moment, is there anything you'd like me to blog about? Requests will be considered.

Your new novel's already listed on Amazon!

Also, are you going to change your website to incorporate the new book? Perhaps you could talk about that, about being an author and running your own website and choosing what goes up on it etc. I've been thinking recently about how an author can promote themselves and maximise their exposure, and how websites are pretty much crucial these days, so I'd like to hear your thoughts. It's surprising how many author sites are bad and just plain unhelpful, whereas there are some that are really comprehensive and you can tell that the author actually cares about their relationship with their readers.

Anyway, just a suggestion!
Congratulations on another milestone passed. Don't you get a vacation now? How does the self-employed creative worker know when it's time for a few weeks off?

what else to blog about? Hmmm...
two quick, half-formed questions?

1. Your first book had werewolves in it; I understand that the second is about fishy-people. Is there a theme developing here? Are you fond of talking-animal books, in general, Wind In the Willows/Watership Down/Redwall kinds of stories? And I know werewolves and mermaids aren't animals; they're kinds of people (well, they would be if they actually existed, but you know what I mean). But do you find those animal-like beings useful for exploring what it actually means to be human, and to exist as physical beings in the physical world, but with that brain that keeps inventing non-physical realities? Do you understand what I'm awkwardly asking here?

2. I've alway been interested in names, personal and geographical-- derivations, meanings, associations. To take an example not at random, "Lola" made me think both of "Laurel," victorious, and "Dolores," sorowful. How do you name your characters?

And if Kit has little to say at the moment, what's Mika up to?

Well, when I'm needing to recharge my creative batteries, I find that exercise is generally helpful - and *violent* exercise is particularly helpful. (I find I'm often most ready to write after I get back from martial arts classes. Possibly that's just me, though.)

Taking a long walk, or a weekend trip to somewhere new, combines mild exercise with a change of scenery, and can often be helpful.

Failing that, I try to get enough food, rest, and exercise - things that make me feel better generally - and just give myself a little time off. The urge to write always comes back... well, at least so far...
Congratulations, Kit!! I can't wait to read this one, especially with the hints you've given so far on the blog.

Recharging my batteries usually involves going and doing something entirely unrelated to the project at hand. Such as, for example, petting kittens. Which is a non-subtle way for me to second the request for Moar Mikalogues. ;) (If, of course, the cat or her muse is speaking to you these days.)
Hey! Your blog is unblocked tonight!

(For some reason, I usually get the "Nudity and Adult Content" block. I have NO IDEA why. Nekkid kitties?)

Anyways, I just want to echo your cheer for the copy-editor. I read an awful lot of ARCs for review, and punctuation, grammar, and word choice errors drive me absolutely insane, especially since I can't fairly criticize them. (Pretty much the continuity errors that exist at that point are going to stay, however, so I consider them fair game).

Recharging my creative batteries...

I have what I call my "id books". these are stories... actually long strings of scenes loosely held together by plot ... in which I indulge all my political rants, interpersonal vendettas, and, er, private kinks through a variety of psychotic characters indulging in random mayhem and intense snarky dialogue.

I generally find that pounding out ten pages or so is a great way to clear out the last piece of "real writing" and get started on the next one.

Just as long as I never give into the OH NO JOHN RINGO NO! impulse and actually try to make any of them public...
For some reason, I usually get the "Nudity and Adult Content" block. I have NO IDEA why.

Does it block swearing? I sometimes cuss.
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