Yet more excuses not to write

I’ve been trying my best to think of something interesting to tell you in the lead up to Alpha (sorry, Alpha Redemption) being let loose on an unsuspecting world. I was hoping to have some fascinating snippets of esoteric information to share with you regarding the arcane inner workings of the publication business. The only interesting thing I’ve done (no, really) is to sign up with the Chicago Manual of Style Online in the hope that I could, hopefully, pick up some tips on how to improve, where possible, my use of and application of, commas, because, apparently, too many commas, can make, your, text, virtually, unreadable. Or so they say.

I suppose I could tell you about the re-reading, and re-checking, and re-re-reading. Or I could tell you about the gnawing feeling that you’ve missed something somewhere in the manuscript that you’ll only spot when the thing hits the shelves. Or maybe I could mention the glaring error I spotted this weekend in a rather important plot point that required a quick rethink and some hasty alterations but which, ultimately, actually turned out for the best. Or I could tell you about the anxiety that comes with suspecting that this is really all just a weird but wonderful dream and that any moment now you are going to wake up. I could tell you about all these things but, to be honest, all that has happened is that I have found yet more excuses not to write.

Does editing count as writing? I’m not sure. Certainly I’m thinking about writing but that’s not the same as tapping away at those keys as if your life depended on it. I’m making corrections but that’s nothing close to hammering out a brand new, fresh-out-of-the-box story complete with that wonderful new-plot smell. Does fretting about character and development and pace count as writing? In my dream-world it does, but this is not that world (I know this because donuts do not grow on trees), and so I have to log those hours in the “Time Wasted” or “Not Really Doing Anything Constructive” columns of my swanky new time-management system that basically consists of my desk disguised as a post-it note.

Sometime over the next few days I have to stop tweaking the manuscript and hand it over so that Splashdown Books’ editor, Cat, can have a good laugh. This, too, makes me nervous but then I bet that doesn’t surprise you. I enjoy writing but I also take it a little too seriously and so always want to improve on it. And I always think it could be much better. I’m told this is a common trait among the artistically inclined. Normal people look at what we’ve done and see a story that they like or don’t like. We look at it and see dodgy dialogue, problematic punctuation, clumsy characterisation, and annoying alliteration. To be honest, at this point I can’t see anything anymore, never mind a story. So maybe this is a good time to hand it on to someone who knows what they’re doing and trust their judgement. Between Grace and me, we should have found most of the errors, so hopefully Cat won’t laugh too hard.

About P.A.Baines

P.A.Baines writes computer programs for a living but would much rather be writing Christian speculative fiction, which he does whenever he gets the opportunity. Educated in Africa, he is studying towards a degree in Creative Writing through Buckinghamshire New University in England. He enjoys asking "what if?" but is tired of how speculative fiction deals with religion in general and the God of the Bible in particular. His stories are for Christians who enjoy science fiction but who normally avoid the genre because of its tendency towards an atheistic world-view. His aim is to write entertaining and thought-provoking stories that stretch the imagination, but which keep God in His rightful place as Lord over all creation. P.A.Baines is British but currently lives in a small corner of the Netherlands with his wife and two children and various wildlife. He spends what little spare time he has keeping fit, watching films, and playing computer games with his children. He does most of his reading via audio books, which he listens to while commuting to and from work on his trusty bicycle. He speaks reasonable Dutch and is in the process of learning French.

9 comments on “Yet more excuses not to write

  1. Sooo…Have you had to rebuke the random edit demon and send it far, far away yet? Or don’t you use Word? 😉

    A couple of nifty little shareware programs that are helping me save a tree’s worth of sticky notes are: Klok and yTimer. Klok is a time-tracking program with limitless possibilities, but you have to stop the time-tracker; it doesn’t stop itself. yTimer is a timer program complete with old-fashioned BRRRRINGGG! sound–and up to 40 different timers/end results possible (if you’re that much of a multi-tasker). I think I found them both at spacejock.com.

    • I just went to that spacejock website. Looks like they got some nice downloads. And most of them look free too, except for that one that only has a free trial. Cool! 😀

    • Ah, Word. We’ve reached an agreement, me and Word. I won’t do anything too complicated if it promises not to try to edit my document the way it thinks I want to edit it. So far it’s been behaving and only occasionally goes all Hal on me (“Are you sure you want to do that, Paul?”).

      Some nice stuff on the spacejock site. Thanks Krysti. I’ve downloaded both packages you recommended and plan to have a look this weekend. One utility that I have been using recently is ToDoList from AbstractSpoon. It’s good for organizing long lists of tasks and sub-tasks. I use it to get an overview of my plots, broken down by chapter and paragraph. Best of all, it’s free. 🙂

  2. I know the feeling. Every time I sit down to the computer, the first thing I do is check my e-mail accounts. Then depending on what’s in the e-mail (such as this blog entry from our group) I either click on things from there, or I go to Facebook and check my e-mail there. And then, there’s all the times I have to check my various accounts to see if I’ve gotten a response from anyone I contacted and e-mail them back.

    And what surprises me, is here I am, thinking I’m not writing and just spending all this time online, when the writers I’m in contact with are e-mailing me back and browsing on Facebook and all the other things I wind up doing too. Shoot, and these are the published authors! Here I am unfinished and unpublished, and I’m finding myself sucked in by the Internet and these other authors are still pumping out novels and my novel is lying in it’s little folder on my desktop with a few other unfinished works of mine I’m not currently concerned about.

    Even today, I was planning on writing something for a nice little PDF file that I’ll either giveaway or include in a bigger package for something I want to market with my Beyond the Charts business. What am I doing instead? Writing this response to this blog. And I’ve still got some more e-mails to check on in just that first account I looked at. Ehg! 😉

    • I’ve just had a brilliant idea. Well, maybe not brilliant. Possibly a good idea, bordering on brilliant. Or it could be rubbish. We’ll see. Anyway, the plan is to force myself to write one new word of my latest book every day. I figure that the biggest problem I have is getting started. If I write one word, that should be enough to get the engine ticking over enough to get a sentence down, and then maybe a paragraph and, who knows, I might get a chapter done. I’m going to call it the One Word a Day Plan. It might just work.

      I figure the worst than can happen is I only manage to write one word a day, which means I should have the book finished sometime in 2119.

  3. I prefer to call daydreaming and staring at my computer… or basically any form of procrastination… “Prewriting”.

  4. XD Aw man, I love that picture! Some of those excuses are so good, especially the flattering ones.

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