…prefaced by a small apology for being a total slacker in the last few weeks. I was overcome by chocolate and eggnog coffee, swept away by visits to kin and friends.
Currently juggling three beta projects: one longer and one almost over, one just about to start. This is interesting theater when you’ve got the third book of your long-loved and still-very-present fantasy series delivering outraged elbow-jabs to all that precious gray matter inside your skull, demanding to know why it’s being ignored. Plus a crazy new possible-series kicking the back of your car seat and moaning “Are we there yet? Mooooom, I’m tiiiiired of research! I need to pee! I want higher stakes! And more back-story! And Jerry stole my GameBoy! And your outline sucks! Pull over, I think I’m going to throw up!”
Ok, so too many metaphors there. But you get the idea. I am a pair tennis match of writerly obligations, and the ball keeps flying over the 10-foot fence into the parking lot and breaking somebody’s windshield.
And yet, I love betaing. I try not to do it too often, because, well, see above. Not to mention a marriage, Her Dogginess, a day job, and a slightly sporadic social life. But I do love it, even when the story’s not exactly my cuppa, which has happened a few times, or the author on the other end of the crit tells me I’m missing their genius and am just jealous, which has only happened once so far, and which one can only meet with a shrug.
I love it, I think, because first and foremost, I love to read. I love to read new things, by writers who see things differently and say things differently and make me think about how I see and say my own things. I love to discover someone else who can suck me in with a handful of well-chosen words and/or a character so well-drawn I’ll probably dream of them later. And I love to think I can maybe help nudge someone a little closer to that ultimate writing dream, an advance that shames the GNP of a medium-sized country.
No wait, I meant a place at the top of the NYT bestseller list and an interview on Oprah.
Um. Or a Pulitzer, maybe.
Ok, well, pick something: myself, I’m going to shoot for a publishing contract with a decent advance and good royalties, then stunning sales, but I’m just a Modest Millie.
Though all of the above sounds pretty good to me.
Anyway. I love to read, reason the first. And reason the second, equally selfish, I love analyzing other people’s plots and subplots and characters and pacing and dynamics. I kind of hate line edits, my own especially, but I really love analysis. This is because once I’m done writing up a 1-2 page essay on my opinion of a manuscript, sectioned out into voice, characterization, plot, and pace, and often containing bullet points, I sit there, feel like a complete geek, and then go reread whatever manuscript of my own that’s waiting for equal treatment, and see about a thousand times more than I did in the last pass.
“Resting” does very little for me. Working on someone else’s stuff, on the other hand, brings every plot hole, every discontinuity, every purple line of prose into sharp relief. If I could just time it so that every time I typed THE END I had a 2nd or 3rd draft in the same genre to pick my way through, I think the one-pass adventure I agonized my way through a few posts back would have been so badass there would have been an 8Os workout montage theme song playing in the background.