03 January 2017

How's the Writing Life? An Update.

Photo (c) Clark Young via Unsplash.

The Name and the Key

I've got to say, my Nanowrimo revisions goal was not met, as I feared but somewhat expected. I hoped to revise my entire novel, The Name and the Key, but instead sort of sank into a loooong, thoughtful ponder on how to redo the book and make the changes agents had suggested in my lovely, personalized rejections (this is actually a really good sign as far as rejections go!).

The problem was I had a major plot disaster on my hands, and trying to solve it felt like balancing complex equations. I still haven't quite solved it, but the fact that I've come to these conclusions actually makes me feel pretty optimistic about what needs to be done:

  • As much as I would like it, I don't think I can make Worldwalker Tales into a trilogy, at least not at this juncture. The more I work on it and plot away, the more it seems like my two books, The Name and the Key and The Step and the Walk will be the only works. However, they will probably be a little bit longer than what I've originally written as I cut but add more events simultaneously.
  • The third book I wanted to make, The Eye and the Storm, has no plot. Trying to put plot elements from an unrealized third book into the first and second (to build continuity) was really painful and I just couldn't make it work. The little bit that I did have planned required me to add an enormous supernatural element with Lily that always sounded interesting (possession! dual natures!), but the more I thought about it, the more effort and skill it would take to dazzle the readers with it, and I realized this is beyond my skill as a beginning author. 
  • One of the issues had to do with keeping Lily's abilities a secret from her family, and I had no resolution to this (because you can never hide a secret that big!). In my thesis version of The Name of the Key, in a struggle to meet my graduation deadline, I sort of copped out and did one of those "you inherited this power and it's amazing" tropes and it just feels disappointing. With such a clich├ęd foundation, there's no way I could run with this into the third book. Instead I'm going to have the family be completely aware of her abilities, be occasionally afraid of it, and worry for her mental health and well-being.  I am cutting an enormous plot from Books 1 and 2 but I think it's for the best. As Kurt Vonnegut wrote in his advice to writers, "Keep it simple" and "have the guts to cut." I'm doing both. 
  • Because of this character change for Lily, this will completely change the ending of the novel, which also felt like a cop-out because it ended too quickly and readers didn't entirely understand the climactic scenes in the Black Gate. 
  • Most of the middle drags and so does the beginning. I can probably get to the climactic scene faster and add the ending I wanted for Book Three to Book Two. 
Lots of work, but I am finally, FINALLY figuring out what I need to do. 

The Step and the Walk


  • This is one I've been quiet about. I wrote this poem in 2015 for an anthology of fiction and poetry about "cruel inventions." It is inspired by E.T.A. Hoffman's "The Sandman"and it is a work I am proud of. However, it was rejected for the anthology. This was another good rejection in that it was personalized and while they liked it and discussed it at length, it didn't mesh well with the theme of the anthology, which I understood.
  • When I got to Japan, one of my goals was to get back into writing and get some more work published after a long dry spell of nothing. I decided to rewrite the poem, including redoing the title, a couple months ago and resubmit. I sent it to two other literary journals and it was rejected again. I don't think it needs another rewrite, but I do think I am sending it to the wrong types of journals, in that I have a tone and style mismatch with them. I will keep resubmitting it, but to publishers of speculative or Gothic fiction instead of literary fiction, and I hope I can find it a home somewhere. 
  • Update (January 13, 2017) Well...this just found a home with Synaeresis and its inaugural issue! More details forthcoming.

While the writing itself has been a struggle, I have been and will be working on some major projects as proofreader/editor.

Skip Beat!

  • I am part of a very mainstream project--an anime called Skip Beat! I am one of the final proofreaders for the episodes subtitles. While the series is subtitled in English and available on Crunchyroll, I can tell you that the official North American Release by Pied Piper, Inc. includes completely rewritten subtitles (some of which I have personally rewritten) with tightened language, timing, and grammar. Since this is such a huge project, I will have a separate post up for it soon! The DVD/Blu-Ray will be released this year, so stay tuned!

A Top-Secret Project that I Will Only Vaguely Allude To

  • I will be project editor for a...uh...*grown-up* PC game where I will edit and proofread the English translation. Due to the mature content of the game, I will be credited under a pseudonym. ;)
Both of these projects come from the world of Japanese anime and manga, and while at the moment I am not being monetarily compensated (but given credit and recognition), I am hoping this leads to a path where I can work on localization and editing professionally. 

If I can get a handle on learning Japanese while I am in Japan (although this has been really, really difficult for me), a long-term goal would be getting into translation of anime and manga. That would be really cool, as I love these things very much, and it would be a dream come true to be involved in bringing this wonderful media from Japan to the English-speaking world. This, of course, is a very long-term goal, one that will take years, but I feel like I'm starting to get on the right track with this.

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