WIP-it Wednesday: December 21st, 2016

Yule by Sarmati. See below for full image and artist link.
Yule by Sarmati. See below for full image and artist link.

Time for a new weekly writer’s roundup of my works-in-progress and those ready to read!

Today is the Winter Solstice of the Northern Hemisphere, known by some as Yule. Most of us are well aware of how many religious holidays occur around this time of year. I think that hearkening back to pre-civilization, our ancestors found this dark and cold stretch of time was a good opportunity to gather together. To share food and warmth, recount tales of the year, and legends long past. It’s a good time to thank the powers that be for another trip around the sun as well.

For me, this December has felt more Yuletide than most. It’s been colder than usual to start. Several snowstorms transformed the landscape into a winter wonderland well ahead of the normal schedule. And the last few weeks have found me focusing a lot of effort on hearth and home alongside my wife. The rewards for bracing our walls against a winter onslaught were immediate and validating… Even if I grumble at weekend storms disrupting my writing routine, I’m still grateful to be prepared for them.

Moreover, I’m grateful to have warmth and shelter with my loving wife. For the friendships both online and in-person that enrich my time on this earth. For the private space within my home where I may write and do what I love. Simple blessings perhaps, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

At its heart, Yule is about dark times and the new beginnings that arise from them. Winter is hard. Times can be hard too, and 2016 will be a challenge for many to remember fondly. The mood in my nation is dour and fractious. Its future is at best uncertain, and for many it’s potentially terrifying.

Folks need a little hope. A little light. This is a time to remember that all the good in the world starts within us, not without. It’s a time to gather, laugh and sing in spite of our hardships. In doing so we are reminded that there is still good within the world, just as it is within ourselves.

Therefore, however you celebrate the season; I wish you hope. A lighted spark within to do good with as you will. Let it illume your inner passions or warm another in need.

You are beautiful and made of stardust… Bless you.

On to my writing.

This week will go down as one of revisions. My short story Ounta cycled through three readers and reached a fifth draft in the wee-hours of Monday morning. Each reader enjoyed it a great deal, which is always an encouraging sign. They also highlighted points both big and small with suggestions for improvement alongside pinning the more typical sorts of errors.

It’s really great to get constructive feedback from a number of readers. If you have the fortune to befriend good betas with varied strengths and focuses, it’s a joy. I am the recipient of such a situation, and I am consistently amazed. One reader will shine light on an area of improvement, and another will say nothing about that point but provide a brilliant idea elsewhere.

I use a Draft – Reader – Revise, Draft – New Reader – Revise method, avoiding multiple beta-readers working off the same draft simultaneously as much as possible. This makes my editing process more involved, but I love the results. Using it, the basic and fundamental issues in the first drafts are rapidly addressed and the later reads can be more focused on layering polish.

This is exactly what happened with Ounta. It started off good, but as with anything I write, I wanted it to be as close to great as I can get it. Thanks to my helpful readers, I know I’ve made the story a better one. It was a surprising amount of work for such a short piece, but editing is magic. I placed it into the contest today with no qualms at all, and sent a copy off to Ben to see if he would like it to start the Fifth Monday chain serial this year.

The intense revision cycle detracted from my plans for Vivian’s Last Cigarette this weekend. I did get some work done on the novel, where I continued weaving in edits and additions to next-to-last chapter sixteen. This has been exclusively focused on Viv and Gronk’s dialogue, a process that started last week after self-review of the unfinished chapter.

It felt uneven, and stumbled on points I was trying to pull into focus for the reader. I’ve been working to fix that and restore the normal ebb and flow these two usually have in their conversations. I’m happy to say it’s paying off as I give the characters more room to speak and play off of one another.

With Ounta wrapping up, and the coming three-day holiday weekend, my plan is to finish chapter sixteen and start wring the final pages of the manuscript. Who knows, with another three-day weekend after this one for New Years, I might even be able to start 2017 with a finished draft!

Alright, time for me to stop blogging and get back to writing some more fiction! Take care!

Yule by Sarmati.
Yule by Sarmati. Click here for more of the artist’s work!

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