I Think I Found My Brevity

So, this is the official announcement.  I did it, the second draft of Dark Mirror is finished.  It’s a lot shorter than I expected.  And by a lot, I mean it’s 73,264 words, while I had thought it would be at least 100k.  I didn’t know I could write a whole story in less than 100k.

For years I’ve known that I tend to, shall we say, over-write a bit on my stories, which tends to bloat word counts beyond what they should be.  This time I tried something different.  I didn’t describe everything down to the last fold of cloth or breath.  It finally occurred to me that it might be unnecessary.  The average reader has a fairly vivid imagination and so I can leave some of the basic stuff to that imagination.  Describing just what was significant or different from normal is a new thing for me, but somewhat liberating.  We’ll have to see what my test readers say when I get this to them.  That said, it gave me more room to write the story.  As much as I’d like to just let a story run as many words as it needs, I never stop being aware that I would like to sell my stories at some point, that this is a business and with that comes certain expectations.

I’m still pondering how I want to go about publishing this, when it’s ready at least, and I’m very torn.  Part of me very much wants to go with traditional publishing, for the support system you’re supposed to get, for the physical object you eventually get, the broader distribution, all that.  And (this is going to sound perhaps really bad) for that stamp of approval that is implied with traditional publishing, that unspoken message to potential readers that it can’t be that bad because an agent and editor(s) have read through it already and were willing to spend money to bring it to you.  And then there’s the costs I don’t have to spend money for up front (money I don’t really have at the moment, to be honest).  But it’s a very uphill battle for someone entirely unpublished for me, and I’m not long on confidence generally.  In fact, I rarely give myself the credit that some of my friends argue I deserve.

There is a definite historical stigma to self-publishing.  I find it in my own attitude, even.  In my opinion, it’s lessening now in this the age of e-publication, but I think it’s still there to at least some extent.  Perhaps it is because you do find plenty of books out there among the self-published that were written by someone clearly delusional about the level of their own talents.  You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones that come across as someone’s first draft, with spelling and grammar errors and confused narrative.  And I don’t want to be mistaken for one of those, but I’m aware that there’s a growing tide of those who write very well jumping on this train.

There are several advantages that are definitely starting to make the traditional publishing route look less attractive.  The biggest is control.  I would have control over my work, how long it’s available, where and at what price.  I decide how often I publish a new book.  I can have the cover I want.  It would happen sooner than trying to fight that uphill battle of traditional publishing.  And more of the money is mine (so is the financial risk, but nothing worth doing is without risk), with fewer people being paid a percentage of the book’s sales.  I have to agree with Dean Wesley Smith on this.  He’s talked about it in his blog before.  Actually, he talks about a lot of important business stuff in his blog.  But the salient point here is that I did the work of writing this, inventing it in the first place in fact, spent my time and effort to make it a reality.  They did their job once.  They don’t keep working on the book after it’s published in some cases.  Why should they get a percentage paid to them for however long the book is available?  If I’m willing to learn that business side and find people to do the work for a flat fee, to spend the time dealing with the business end of things, there’s no reason I shouldn’t do it that way.  Actually, the more I write this post, the more I think I’m going to end up going self-publish, e-publish.  I may or may not get rich that way, I may never realize the dream of writing full time, but at least I would get to do it my way.  Besides, even in traditional publishing, being able to afford to write full time is unlikely, as I understand it.  I think it’s time for me to get down to researching and learning when not actively writing.  I have a lot to learn before I get this in people’s hands (e-readers).  And I may change my mind on this.  It wouldn’t be the first time.

In the meantime, as I go through all of this and think about all of the above, what will I be doing?  Digging into another project.  I’m more than a little torn on that.  I want to work on The Ailing Tree, but I don’t think I’m ready.  There’s still a bunch of stuff I’m letting simmer with that one.  I want to work on the second book in the Mirrors trilogy, currently going under the working title Possession, while I’m still very much in the vein of that world, and I’m leaning toward that, working on and finishing the trilogy before moving on to another world.  I don’t expect major story or world reworking to come out of the feedback process for DM (though you never really know), so I could at least start ordering my notes and working on an outline.  I’m also throwing around possible new titles for DM, but not really sure about any of them yet, so I won’t be sharing them at this point.

I’d like to close this post by saying that I’m amazed how much better writing The End feels this time.  It might be because this time I didn’t do it knowing I’d have to do significant rewrites, so it really feels like The End.  There’s still work to do on it, and I don’t yet know how much, but this time it feels like so much more of an achievement.  I like that 🙂


About Julie

I'm a writer and photographer. I always have something with me to take notes for ideas or writing projects I'm thinking about or have on the go. I also like to go around with my camera and take pictures of anything that strikes me as beautiful or evocative. I'm perpetually working on one story or another, while waiting for enough distance to judge the last one (or more). I'm always working on several projects at once, developing the next book, even as I'm editing the last. Beyond that, there's always plenty of scraps and twists of ideas rolling around in my head, eventually turning themselves into full blown stories.
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8 Responses to I Think I Found My Brevity

  1. quix689 says:

    Hey. I found your blog through NaNo, and I’ve found it really interesting, particularly this post. I’m impressed that you managed to write your novel in less than 80k. I’m still working on being able to do that. I ramble too much. 🙂

    I think you also bring up a lot of good points about self-publishing. There is a stigma to it, and I happen to biased against it, as well. As I write my own novels, I keep hoping that they will eventually be picked up by a publishing company. But you’re right: you get more control when you self-publish, and I’ve heard of people who make really decent money off it. Self-publishing is become more and more accepted, and your post definitely has me considering it more than I ever have before.

    • Julie says:

      Thanks, Quix! I honestly think that part of brevity in writing is letting go of the things that, while cute, aren’t necessary. Now, I’m not talking about starving your writing, but understand where, as I said, you can leave some things to your reader’s imagination. It doesn’t have to be a pure mind movie.

      The self-publishing thing, well, I still go back and forth with that a lot. One of my problems with editors (despite having intended at one point to be one) is that their taste is just that, their personal taste. Yes, they’re paid for it, yes they’re supposed to look beyond it to what will sell, but I often wonder how well that idea works. The recent stories I have read of people rejected by a huge number of publication houses who went on to do well with the rejected story in self-publication suggests to me that editors can be as easily wrong in what the public wants out of books as the rest of us. Not a comforting thought as I prepare for them to pass judgement on my own work.

      But I fully acknowledge that self-publication isn’t a bed of roses either. For one thing, in most cases, you only get out what you put into it, like most new businesses. They don’t build themselves anymore than the book writes itself. If you don’t put time and effort into it, you probably won’t sell a lot. And with a full time job in addition to writing pretty close to full-time hours a lot of the time, I’m not sure where/how I’d fit in time for building that business. And it will possibly require knowledge I don’t have. It’s easy to sit there and say that you’ll make money off of it, but I don’t know that I trust anything entirely when it sounds easy. My experience of life is very much of the school that if it sounds too good (or easy) to be true, it probably is. We’ll see. There will certainly be more posts about it as I go through that part of the journey. You may have noticed, I share my thoughts freely. A lot. Often. 🙂

  2. Em says:

    As per usual, I am super super proud of you. E-publishing is definitely losing some of its stigma, so do whatever feels right to you. 🙂 My only suggestion would be to shelve it for a (short) while, then pick it back up and give it a Julie-edit yourself before you take any further steps with it. As I’m sure you know, sometimes you see things after it has had some time to ‘rest’.

    Also, send it to me. 😛

    • Julie says:

      I think you have the process backward, Em. I do my edit, then send it to you. I’m not sending you fresh draft when I can fix some things myself. And I’m finding it easier to not rush back to page one this time. Maybe because it feels more done, as I said, and a bit because my brain really is a little worn out right now. I’m actually basking in the afterglow. It’s tingly. 😀

  3. Em says:

    Well as long as it is eventually sent to me. 😛 I gave some of my extremely first-draft stuff to a couple of people a while ago with the caveat “I don’t want comments, you just said you wanted to see where it was going”. What did I get? A two page email of comments. So yeah, understood!

    And yes, it is tingly. 😀

    • Julie says:

      I’m entirely certain that if I don’t eventually send it to you, you’ll find a way to make me spontaneously drop dead. I know you. Besides, I also know I’ll need your help with it.

  4. ottabelle says:

    I’m so proud of you. 🙂

    • Julie says:

      Thanks! I’m still rather proud of me too, even as I come toward the end of editing the beast. The draft wasn’t perfect, probably still isn’t, but it was decent, something I was able to still like while I edited. See my next post, which will probably wrap up this phase of the project.

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