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GneNoWriMo: My August Novel Post-Mortem

Back at the end of July, I was in a severe emotional crash, trying to resolve several contradictory ideas (a thing that happens to me with unfortunate frequency). I was spinning my wheels about wanting to continue Rough Housing to the exclusion of everything else, vs. wanting to be able to work on other projects, vs. the looming crisis of Mrs. Gneech's and my mutual unemployment. Finally, after some less-than-dignified LJ entries, a bad day at home, and the subsequent trip to my counselor, I basically said "To hell with it!" and wrote a book.

I poured a lot into this book. I mean, you wouldn't think so just to read the manuscript– it's essentially a potboiler adventure story on the surface. But like Wenton Delaney turning his divorce into a crime thriller, so much of this book was shaped by my weird traumas, life observations, and particular neuroses– chopped, channelled, and with spoiler fins welded on– that there was a lot of catharsis involved.

And credit to rowyn, she was absolutely right. I got more storytelling done in a month and a half writing this book, than in two years of Rough Housing. For all its blockbuster nature, this book is deeper and more intellectually satisfying (to me, anyway) than just about anything I've written to date.

So where do I go from here? Well obviously, the book is not ready for public consumption yet. The first draft weighs in at around 68,000 words, which was once "just right" but is now considered "uncomfortably short" by most of my target markets. (One publisher requests a minimum of 80,000 words, while another won't even look at anything below 100,000. Good grief.) A common motif among comments from the beta readers has been that it's a fast read ("a wild ride" was another), which is a fine feature in an adventure story, but I also don't want people to just tear through it in one sitting and then forget it a day later. So it needs expansion, it needs building out and revising.

And what about SJ? I gotta admit, after a project like this, SJ feels very lightweight intellectually, even though it's just as time consuming. It's kind of a drag to pour two months into creating a comic that'll be read in five minutes and tossed on the pile with the rest, which was something I was already wrestling with before the fact that it's not exactly a money-maker was part of the equation. Novel-writing, assuming I can get rolling and am good at it, at least would help pay the bills. I can do SJ as a downtime project on the side between bouts of writing and revision, but then is it fair to hope for continued Patreon support? I feel like I've neglected my patrons for the past month as it is, and need to do something about that.

I'm still working on it. The good news is, Mrs. Gneech has been having some success in the freelance arena and has been getting calls back for permanent positions, so hopefully stable income will shortly be a thing again. I have been holding off on breaking down and getting a job as a barista or something, so I could devote as much time as possible to these projects while we still have our heads above water.

For the immediate future, I need to put the book down and let it set a bit before going into revision mode. My next immediate set of projects will be to work on commissions and get those Dungeons and Denizens pages done that I meant to do in August. My guess is that once those are completed I'll start working on revisions, which means SJ may not get into the queue before November or December. By then, I expect I'll know which direction I need to go.

-The Gneech

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
packbat
Sep. 11th, 2015 04:11 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure how much "tear through in one sitting" actually leads to "forget a day later". I tore through Watership Down in a day more than once as a kid.

Like, when you mentioned that much of the book was shaped by things in your own life and thoughts about the world, that ... surprised me but didn't? There's a lot of subtlety in the geopolitics of the story, for example - it's not just a way to sort people into opposing factions, it shapes the cultures and mindsets of basically everyone, even (or maybe especially) those who do not care about geopolitics. It escapes the whole good-faction-vs.-evil-faction in a way that doesn't involve making both sides evil - there's good intentions and the human capacity for self-justification of one's own and one's allies' wrongdoing on pretty much all sides.

(...I hope that isn't a spoiler.)

I guess I'm saying, "I hope you don't bog things down in the pursuit of Depth, because I don't think the book needs that."

(Also, what are your target markets, may I ask?)
the_gneech
Sep. 11th, 2015 04:38 pm (UTC)
There's a lot of subtlety in the geopolitics of the story, for example - it's not just a way to sort people into opposing factions, it shapes the cultures and mindsets of basically everyone, even (or maybe especially) those who do not care about geopolitics. It escapes the whole good-faction-vs.-evil-faction in a way that doesn't involve making both sides evil - there's good intentions and the human capacity for self-justification of one's own and one's allies' wrongdoing on pretty much all sides.

^///^ Thanks! That's definitely something I was trying for, but I also didn't want to bash the reader over the head with it. And I certainly don't want to get into "What do you mean it isn't profound???" territory... but I want the reader to come away feeling like they got more than just a roller-coaster ride, if that makes sense. :)

Also, what are your target markets, may I ask?

Right now I'm looking mostly at Baen, Tor, and DAW, by virtue of comparing authors I would like to be "categorized" with (Cherie Priest, Gail Carriger, Jim Hines, et al.). Indie is also a potential way to go, but I really don't want to have to do any more of the businessey part than I have to. I am a lion of very little brain and math hurts.

-TG
packbat
Sep. 11th, 2015 08:32 pm (UTC)
And I certainly don't want to get into "What do you mean it isn't profound???" territory... but I want the reader to come away feeling like they got more than just a roller-coaster ride, if that makes sense. :)

Yep - and that's totally fair. I think, because I was already fairly familiar with many of the ideas you were presenting, my reactions were less "huh, that's something I have to think about" and more "that's really good worldbuilding/characterization". ;)

Right now I'm looking mostly at Baen, Tor, and DAW, by virtue of comparing authors I would like to be "categorized" with (Cherie Priest, Gail Carriger, Jim Hines, et al.).

Ah - I'm afraid I'm not actually familiar with any of those authors. Sorry. ._.

I think part of why I asked was that I could imagine selling it as YA fantasy. It's ... actually a reasonable length in wordcount for that market segment already, but that's not what makes me think of it; something about the themes, the tone, and the writing style are reminiscent of the books I remember reading that were meant for that audience.
the_gneech
Sep. 11th, 2015 10:52 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid I'm not actually familiar with any of those authors. Sorry.

Well consider them recommended! ;)

I think part of why I asked was that I could imagine selling it as YA fantasy. It's ... actually a reasonable length in wordcount for that market segment already, but that's not what makes me think of it; something about the themes, the tone, and the writing style are reminiscent of the books I remember reading that were meant for that audience.

I thought about that, particularly given the ages of Verity and Tanya, but I'm not sure how the YA market would react to a book with a poly family, a lesbian relationship, a transgender character, and lots of fiery, violent death.

...

How did I end up writing this book again? O.o

-TG
packbat
Sep. 12th, 2015 12:27 am (UTC)
Ha! ^_^

I don't think those are dealbreakers, though - I think the book market is much less paranoid about intolerant parents than, say, the cartoon market. I feel like it's an avenue to examine, at any rate.
rowyn
Sep. 17th, 2015 01:01 am (UTC)
Just so's you know: those are totally normal things for YA fantasy these days. Seriously.
kylet
Sep. 11th, 2015 06:14 pm (UTC)
No offense, but...it's generally been pretty clear that your heart lies in prose writing rather than comics. I think comics go over better in the fandom with the instant gratification and short attention spans, but yeah, as far as $$ goes, I never bothered.

Good to hear there's been progress on many fronts, though!
the_gneech
Sep. 12th, 2015 02:38 am (UTC)
Well, y'know, I love doing the art too. But I may end up pursuing writing as one track, art as another, and not trying to merge them.

-TG
kylet
Sep. 12th, 2015 07:31 pm (UTC)
Yes, but you're often talking about what a struggle the art is, and you've tried to do collabs with artists as the writer. I mean, I'm sure you enjoy it, but if you had to pick between the two, I can guess which would probably benefit you more.
c_eagle
Sep. 12th, 2015 09:07 am (UTC)
By all means!.... take a break if need be, to recharge.. and if you ever need a smile & cheering up, just take a look at your awesome characters ^v^
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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