IT BEGINS

I got home from work at about 2:30 after a nearly three-hour “lunch meeting” on the last day before Winter Break officially kicked in, and I’ve spent most of the time since then in my recliner with a book in my hand. (Which has finally gotten interesting; I was on the verge of abandoning a Tana French novel, the very concept of which hurts my heart.)

I am trying to decide if I want this to be a Winter Break of Great Accomplishment or a Winter Break of I Sat Around And Read Books And Played Video Games. Right now it could go either way. And both would be a perfectly valid way to spend the next two weeks.

Also, I keep looking at that picture of myself I posted yesterday and reflecting on how much I’ve fallen apart physically since 2004. I need to get out of this mood or I’ll end up making New Year’s Resolutions, and those are always to be avoided by sensible people.

First Day of Vacation: I Went to Work edition

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I was looking for a .gif of the “Get me a G-O-B” scene, but this’ll do.

Last week was an exceptionally shitty week to be a furniture salesman– easily the worst single week in my entire two-year tenure, in fact, and is is nearly unimaginable that June will not end up as my worst single month as a furniture salesman as well.  So when a previous customer called last week and said that she was out of town but wanted to make an appointment to come in and spend a few thousand dollars, I happily scheduled her for 10:00 this morning and came in anyway.  While I was there, I caught a customer from yesterday who had had to postpone his purchase because of a freeze on his credit accounts– meaning that I had, in a single hour, on a day when I was not supposed to be at work, more total sales than in the seventeen days prior to that hour.

So, yeah.  Come into work on my day off, but make hundreds of dollars in commissions during that hour I came in?  No problem.

Then I returned something to Best Buy, came home, played video games, mowed the lawn, played more video games, got some important emails, responded to those emails, finished my renewal for my teachers’ license (which will expire in 2028, a year that is so far away I cannot comprehend it), played more video games, got some light cleaning done around the house, ate dinner, and now I’m writing thishere blog post.

My big plan for tomorrow?  Breakfast is gonna be sausage grits and a fried egg.  Ask me how excited I am about my breakfast tomorrow.

I am so excited about my breakfast tomorrow.

The remainder of the day will be split between more video games– can you tell I caved and bought Dark Souls Remastered once I realized I’d have a solid week where I didn’t have to go to work?– and the Composition of Fiction.

Not bad for my first day off.

On doing nothing of value

Stuffed-Animal-VACATION0616I’ve actually stayed pretty busy the last couple of days– I had the classroom portion of my CPR renewal class to attend yesterday and spent most of the rest of the day scanning dozens of documents and uploading them to the Indiana Department of Education’s slow, overworked server so that I can get my teacher licensure renewed.  This is the first time I’ve ever had to do this, as moving to Indiana meant I could let my Illinois licensure expire and my Indiana license was a 10-year.

This doesn’t change anything, mind you; I still have no plans to return to the classroom, but letting my license expire still seemed like a kind of terrible decision anyway.  I’m waiting for a bunch of recalcitrant ducks to get themselves lined up properly at the moment so that I can finalize everything, but in between now and then there is the World Cup to distract me– I’m sitting on my sofa with my laptop and watching soccer right now– so I’m pretty content.

I am taking next week off from work.  I am not doing this for any particular reason other than five things managed to piss me off in the first half hour of my day on Monday and I get two weeks of paid vacation this year.  I looked at the calendar, this upcoming week hadn’t been claimed by anyone yet, and so screw it– mine it was.  I’m actually going to go in for a few minutes Monday morning after dropping the boy off at day care because I have a pre-established appointment that is going to result in a (possibly somewhat sizable) sale, but after that I’m not going back in until the following Monday.  And frankly, with Sunday being Father’s Day, I don’t plan on spending a lot of time at work on Sunday either.  So I basically have a full shift tomorrow, part of one on Sunday, and maybe an hour on Monday and then I’m off for a week.

Plans include Dark Souls, working out a short story that is trying to pound its way out of the inside of my skull, soccer, and … that’s it.  At some point the family and I will go see Incredibles 2, which I’ve been eagerly anticipating for years.  But that’s all.

I’m pretty psyched about it, to be honest.

Proof of life

I exist.

 

But two eleven-hour shifts in a row after a 1500-mile vacation week may have killed me.

 

Will try and post words tomorrow.  Thinky-style.

 

G’night.

GUEST POST: Writing for Yourself vs Writing for an Editor, by Steven D’Adamo

At least one guest post today and tomorrow, as brain melt starts to set in.  Steve’s good people.  Be nice.  


Bio: Steven D’Adamo is a writer based outside of Baltimore, MD. He co-founded Red String PaperCuts with a friend and fellow writer to discuss books, music, and poetry, and argue about life from their armchairs. His fantasy adventure novel, The Warden of Everfeld: Memento, will debut at the end of 2017. To catch a glimpse of his fantasy universe, check out the dark fantasy horror, “Wolf’s Moon Night,” published by Five on the Fifth. Aside from his website, you can find Steven on Facebook, Goodreads, and NaNoWriMo (dia820).

For Whom Do You Write? (Hint: it always changes!)

Most of us say that we only write for ourselves, that it doesn’t matter how the outside world perceives our stories because we poured our hearts and souls into creating them – that’s all that really counts!

Most of us are at least partially lying.

As I spent months upon months crafting the first draft of The Warden of Everfeld: Memento, it really did feel as though I was writing it exclusively for myself. No one laid eyes on my “alpha” draft until it was finished. I wrote it the way I wanted to, and I was proud of what I had accomplished.

I sent the draft to my alpha readers to have a look, knowing that they would critique my story and send me feedback. But my four alpha readers were close friends and/or family; people I trust with my life who I knew would accept my story as a labor of love whether or not it was any good.

Why the Second Draft was not for Me

The good news is that most of them liked it even it needed a whole lot of work. (And boy did it!)

But then I started writing the beta draft, and suddenly I felt the weight of my readers over my shoulders. I wanted them to see my story as fully fleshed out as it appeared in my head, without all of the plot holes and shoe-horned character development.

I accepted this change in mindset as an evolution; I hand-picked these four readers to open my story up to, and they deserved to read the best version of it I could create. I owed it to them to make WoEM the best damn story I could. Their opinions were all that mattered to me.

Critical Consumption

Four weeks ago I began working with a proofreader to review and revise my beta draft. She is also a friend, but as a high school English teacher, she actually has a ton of expertise in critically reviewing literature, the nuances of grammar, and stringing together beautifully constructed sentences.

We agreed to have a “test run” for her editing services to figure out what kind of project she was getting herself into. I scrolled all the way up to the top of my beta manuscript to read through the first few chapters before sending them to her.

I was immediately more concerned than ever about the little things that I knew would need to be reviewed or corrected eventually, but which I had passed over in my attempts to just write the damn story:

  1. Minor in/consistencies such as the precise ages of my characters, their years of birth in relation to important events in their lives or the story at-large, and even obvious things like how a made-up fantasy word was pluralized
  2. Use of adverbs and gerunds. Every writer’s blog ever harps on cutting down on this type of language. I took these suggestions with a grain of salt, because many sentences just sound unnatural without the occasional ly or ing. But knowing that I was sending this thing to an English teacher, I became hyper-sensitive to these words.
  3. Use of inner character monologue versus normal narrative to convey a character’s feelings/thoughts. Okay, so my editor actually brought up this distinction after reading my few batch of chapters. We had a long discussion about via email trying to agree when inner character monologues were appropriate. We came to an agreement, but it was such an Aha! moment for me that it changed the way I wrote my narrative in the final chapters of my beta (which are still in the works).

I am sure there will be many other instances of this as I review my beta to send to my editor. These are changes I would have had to make anyway to make my book appropriate for public consumption. But in my head, these were eventualities.

Hiring a proofreader has expanded both the real and potential audiences for my story from people who love me enough to tolerate my fantastical nonsense to people who will analyze and dissect every piece of my writing ability.

Fortunately for me, my editor is doing this in an effort to improve the beta manuscript.

Once the final version is published, no one else will do this for me. The stakes have been raised.