Spinning My Wheels into 2013

A couple different sources are motivating me through a tough time in my edits. I’m halfway through Draft 5, and have seen my weekly progress slip from almost 5% to 2%/per week over the past month. I’ve had doubts about whether I, an English/Philosophy/Theology student, should be writing Science Fiction. I paid for an edit, but am now rewriting each scene. Not only does this mean more drafts, but I’m writing slowly so that I break through bad habits that my editor pointed out. Everybody has their own method for developing story, and right now mine could be characterized as a homeless boy who follows me around and kicks me in the shins when I’m not aware. I feed him because he doesn’t have anywhere else to go, but man does it suck living with him. He revealed his true colors in my PYP mentorship program, where short stories ended up being rewritten with each draft. Eventually, I only had to make small changes, but I never had less than six drafts, and sometimes over a dozen.

So, here I am, looking at another draft to polish after this, then betas, and maybe another two after their critique. I could flip a coin at this point between self-publishing and submitting to a publisher, so who knows how many more drafts I’ll need if I do the later. I am thankful for my editor, C.L. Dyck, encouraging me to trust my instincts, because, adding to the difficulty of making my science work, I’m finding differences between some of her advice and the books I enjoy. And maybe it’s just that I don’t fully understand her advice. It feels like I’m writing with Coke bottle glasses on, except I’m not as smart as the cliche suggests.

Bike Hazard SignWhere’s the encouragement? Okay, so the most recent piece comes from a sermon I heard on Sunday, using Philippians 2:12-13 and a tandem bike. The pastor talked about how he rode one one time with his brother, and how his brother was up in the “captain’s” seat complaining about how he turned around and asked, “Are you even pedaling?” The pastor spoke about how our journey with God is similar to this in that He directs and applies the breaks, but still expects us to pedal, even against the wind, uphill, or through the mud. I feel like I’m doing all three right now, and was encouraged by the exaltation to keep pedaling.

Another source of encouragement is from a panel I recorded from World Science Fiction Convention, Chicon 7, called “Write What You Don’t Know.” I just posted this on my AudioTim podcast if you’d like to have a listen. A panel of authors essentially share how they’ve researched in order to write stories in genres they love without having had the background education they need to make their stories logical. Hello, that’s me to a ‘t.’ Their advice was frustratingly simple: read and talk to people who know more than you.

Ugh. Okay, well, that’s what I’m doing. I just interviewed Ramez Naam, and studied his book NEXUS with a fine toothed comb. His nanotechnology and mind computers description was amazingly helpful. I’m reading Wikipedia for quick info on electrical currents and praying that I don’t make obvious mistakes in my plotting.

If you notice my WIP report, I’m at 52%, and keep pushing my deadline back. Last time I put March 1, and this time I put June 1. I’m glad not to be under contract for this book so I can do it right, but I also hope that my next book doesn’t take this long to write. It would be foolish to give up and start a new book on the assumption that I’ve learned from this experience and can make a better book from scratch.

About Timothy C. Ward

Timothy C. Ward is a Hugo nominated producer for Adventures in SciFi Publishing, who has been lost, broke and surfed with sharks on the other side of the world. He now dreams of greater adventures from his keyboard in Des Moines, Iowa. This summer he released two novels: his second Sand Divers book, Scavenger: A.I., where two parents use an ancient technology to fight a reproducing A.I. while trying to resurrect their deceased infant; and Godsknife: Revolt, an apocalyptic battle for godhood in the rift between Iowa and the Abyss.

3 comments on “Spinning My Wheels into 2013

  1. […] Spinning My Wheels into 2013 (newauthors.wordpress.com) […]

  2. Thanks for this insight into your writing process, Tim, and I’m glad your finding the encouragement you need!

  3. Tim, as far as differences between the advice you get from CL and what you see in published books, remember that there are different editing styles, just like there are different writing styles. So it’s probably just that she has a different style from the editors of those books.

    For example, I have one mentor who loved that in _Hope and Pride_ I got to the inciting incident quickly, and another who said it came on too fast and I should let the heroine spend more time in her “normal” state before bringing on the incident.

    When experts disagree, all you can do is trust your storytelling instincts.

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