Writing Update January 2022

So it’s 2022. The year after 2021. In fact, we’re already more than halfway through January. For me, at least, time has travelled different over the last couple years. Faster. Others I’ve spoken to say that for them time during the pandemic has crawled. But not for me. I’m not sure why.

Anyway, this is a place for writing talk, so before I get sidetracked before I’ve even begun, what’s happening writing-wise for S.C. Mae?

Well, last week I finished the first draft of The Votack Rebellion, book 2 in the Lincoln Reilly series. It’s finishing weight was 105,400 words and it’s now resting for a while before I start on edits. Last week I also finished polishing up my short story, Byte Tanzil and the Case of the Neural Mods, and moved it from my ‘In Progress’ folder to my ‘To Sell’ folder. It took about 3 months to get the story from start to out the door. It’s already picked up its first rejection and is out at its second market. I now have 3 short stories winging their way around the spec-fic zine universe. Flights of Fancy has picked up 5 rejections, as has A Question of Returns.

On a side note, if you’re a short fiction writer and are after an easy-to-use piece of software to keep track of your submissions, then check out Sonar3 from Spacejock Software. It’s free, and very awesome.

This week, I’ve started big edits on Spider’s Hub, Lincoln Reilly book 1. I’ve changed things up a bit from my usual process. Generally, my big edit starts with me printing out a hardcopy of the manuscript and going through that hardcopy page by page, identifying what needs work (which is typically almost everything, if I’m being honest 😅). Then I take my hardcopy notes and apply to the softcopy. This time around, though, I’m starting with a softcopy edit. Then I’ll print out a hardcopy and go page by page, and so on.

There are a couple of reasons for this. My last major edit was Bil’Tross, the final book of the Jazz Healy, Reunion series, and that edit took nearly 6 months. During that period I was learning how to publish books but still, when my plan is to publish 3 books this year, 6 months is, well, long. And while this might sound counter-intuitive, I feel that adding a relatively quick softcopy edit to the beginning of my big edit process will speed things up because a cleaner hardcopy means I should be able to focus primarily on plot rather than how clunky everything reads. Maybe! 😆

Too, I feel like Spider’s Hub is one of the loosest drafts I’ve written (though I think Votack is even looser, but that’s a problem for another day). So this can only help, in my opinion, mostly for the reasons already stated.

It’ll be interesting to see how long this edit takes me, especially now that I’ve wholeheartedly adopted the Pomodoro Technique. See my last post for more discussion on that topic. Though, that being said, I’d only just discovered pomodoros when I wrote that post, so I guess I can now present some evidence that the technique works for me. Prior to going all pomodoro on Votack, my best week of words was the second week of the draft, where I churned out just over 9500. My average, though, in the 8 weeks before I started pomodoro-ing, was only 6600, and I only surpassed the 9K mark 1 more time. My first week trialing (inconsistently, I might add) the Pomodoro Technique I wrote nearly 8200 words. The next week I started properly applying the technique and I added more than 11.5K to the draft. That even included a day where I didn’t write at all. In fact, from that point until I typed END, I took 2 days off a week, yet I still averaged nearly 11K per 7 days, including a week where I pounded out 13000 words. It took me over 8 weeks to get to 53K, but only a further 4 1/2 to add the next 52+K and finish the draft.

So yeah, the Pomodoro Technique works for me. And not just for novel writing but also for short stories and other creative stuff.

In fact, I’m even using pomodoros to make sure I get some regular reading time in.

Apart from edits on Spider’s Hub, I’m still working on the first Jazz Healy shorty to be included in the short story collection I’ll be releasing soon. That’s still at the draft stage, though I’m confident I’ll finish the draft this month and be well on the way on the second story.

I’m also working on the outline for my next novel. This won’t be a Lincoln Reilly book (I have hazy ideas for the third book but they haven’t coalesced into anything solid yet), or a Jazz Healy universe book (I’ve got lots of solid ideas there but I’m not quite ready to dive full-on into that universe again). It’ll be a multiverse-themed book. Back in 2011 I wrote a piece of flash fiction in a multiverse setting. It didn’t sell, though one of the venues I subbed it to responded that the piece felt more like the opening of a novel than a short story. I fiddled around with it over the next few years, still determined to make it work as a short story before, around 2015, I decided that yes, the idea and story would work much better in a novel. At that point I put it away in my ideas folder with, as I wasn’t seriously writing at the time, no real plan to come back to it. Then in 2019 while browsing through said folder I came across it again and the idea morphed into a series, the first book of which I’m now outlining. I have no name for it yet but I have the overall plot, and a pair of POV characters whose stories I want to tell. I’m kinda leery about writing it at this particular point in time, with Marvel having ripped open the multiverse doors and therefore anything published in the next few years having the potential to be seen as merely jumping on the bandwagon, but the story keeps bugging me and I’m not going to ignore it anymore. So there! 🤣🤣

There’s another piece of writing from way back when that won’t leave me alone, either. Between 2009-2011 I drafted a first-person POV novel that told the story of a bunch of genetically-enhanced and technologically-advanced animals. About when I finished the draft the thing turned into a trilogy in my head and so I started on the second one (well, I wrote the opening scene of the second one). Except that this one focused on another group of animals within this universe and thus felt more natural in third-person. I toyed with the idea of redrafting the first book into third person but at the time that felt too hard so I left it. But like the multiverse idea, this story also keeps bugging me, and I’ve decided to add the redraft to my project list. No timeframe on that one, though.

‘Your project list?’ you ask. ‘Is that a word document saved to your writing folder?’

What a great question and I’m glad you asked. Actually, right now it’s primarily a whiteboard. Each of my active projects is listed, with a timeline beneath showing what stage I’m up to, the completed stages crossed out. Each project has been assigned a different-colored marker.

But wait, there’s more! Very recently, I had to change phones and sadly discovered that the app I used to keep track of my novel writing no longer exists. I poked around looking at other apps but they all seemed to do a lot more than I needed, and while they did have the basic functionality I required they weren’t quite as nice as the App That No Longer Exists. So I decided to go back to a spreadsheet.

Then, after doing up a spreadsheet for Votack, I thought to myself, ‘Hang on, instead of individual spreadsheets for each project, why don’t I create a master spreadsheet to keep track of everything?’ That way, I reasoned, I could accurately track how many words I write (or edit) per day, week, month, perhaps even year, across all my projects, as up until now I’d really only been tracking daily progress on my novels. Because, well, I do be loving stattage, and for some reason find keeping track of stattage to be motivating.

And so the Progress Tracker Master, the spreadsheet to end all spreadsheets, has been born. Actually, it’s really very basic but I love it. In fact, this week I’ve been more excited to enter data into it than I have been to start edits on Spider’s Hub 😂. And when a project is finished all I need to do is hide the four columns that relate to it and the data remains intact.

Currently I have 3 projects open in the PTM, though the multiverse project has itself been split into 3 parts (I’m writing separate outlines for each of the POV characters, and I’ve added worldbuilding as a standalone element, too).

Anyway, I am definitely in waffle-mode, so before I completely send you to Boredom Town I’ll sign off. As always, thanks for reading. And again, a massive SHOUT-OUT to all you awesome folk who’ve left ratings or reviews of my books across the various platforms. You all rock very, very much!

Oh, one more thing: Above I mentioned my plan is to release 3 books this year. In previous posts, I said that I wanted to publish a short story collection in March but I’ve decided to push that back to April, to give me a release schedule of April, August, December. A book every 4 months. Feels nice and symmetrical. So that means short story collection in April, Spider’s Hub in August, and The Votack Rebellion in December. In 2023, I hope to be in a position to publish 4 books, which will be a book every 3 months, but that’s a long way away so I should really just focus on the now, right?

Thanks again for stopping by!
S.C. Mae

(In case you were wondering: this post took me 3 pomodoros to draft, and 1 to edit 😁)