Episode 8

Episode 8 – When setting expectations sets you up to fail


Intro

[00:00:00]

Welcome to the In All Jest podcast.

I'm Darryl, your host, and each week I take you on a hero's journey.

I leave my safe, normal world and face many obstacles on my quest to publish not just one but six epic fantasy novels. .

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

You can find out more information at kingdarryl.com/podcast.

Episode eight August the 21st, 2020. I should have known that setting expectations would lead to disappointment. A week of setbacks and struggles.

Since Last Time

[00:00:44]

Hell no, I hear you cry. What went wrong? What happened? It didn't start so well, my weekend I had planned, as I mentioned in last week's episode - to go all in, to power through a heap of chapters and try and get ahead on my timelines, did not work out well at all. I. Salvage something from it. But Saturday felt like a complete loss.

Looking back on the numbers, I did get three or four chapters sort of knocked over, but the weekend all up, I ended up with seven, which was not the start I wanted. And a lot of that was finishing off late on Sunday. I spent the whole weekend buried in it. I didn't do anything else. And while I did get those seven chapters done to start the week off, I gave up everything to get there and it was hard, hard work.

So what did it end up like? Well, for the week, 19,557 words, give or take a couple of bad typos. 10 and a half chapters, including six that I deleted. So that was good. I think there's two less chapters overall. So that was a net win I brought my count down just by two. I kind of liked that.

When I did the numbers in preparation for the podcast today, this was exactly the reason for doing the podcast in the first place. Because to me, the week felt like a complete abject disaster, but the reality is it was only one and a half chapters, less than the week before. So from a consistency standpoint, I was still getting through chapters and I did make some really critical progress.

And I'll talk a little bit about why I think I had the setback, in a minute. But overall, that wasn't too bad. So doing the numbers is really helpful because I've carried a lot of baggage in my brain all week, had a conversation this morning with Pam, , a colleague and someone listening to the podcast who kind of reminded me, you know, I was feeling a bit like I was having a pity party last weekend. And part of that was because I damaged my back in the gym and that was right at the beginning of Saturday,  , everything seemed to cascade from there. The truth of it was it wasn't that bad.

It was actually kind of okay. . So I'm pleased that there was good from doing the podcast and helping me cut through the noise in my head and the judgments and all of that. With the adjusted figures there's 2.7 weeks to my deadline day to have the book finished, ready to go to the proofreader, 54 and a half chapters to go 2.8 chapters a day, which has climbed a little bit. 20 and a half chapters per week.

So we're up three chapters a week overall from last time. Not ideal, but who knows? Will this weekend be just as difficult or will I make progress? I'm not setting any expectations out there. I'm just going to go and try and make progress. So what was the cause of my problems? It wasn't that I got blocked.

It wasn't that I wasn't sitting in front of the manuscript and going through it. I think the key thing was I was right there in the middle build, Act 2, where the decisions I made previously were going to have the biggest impact. I've spoken about how the changes have a domino effect. I think I did that in last week's episode.

I talked about a lot of them can be little, but some of them are not little. One of the big decisions I made with my editor, right at the beginning of this final edit, was to remove a character from the book, completely. The characters name was Sinder, and I took all of the chapters of Sinder out of the book. Sinder will probably be back later, but he wasn't necessary in the book, and he was one I'd kept in there. He was one of my darlings and I needed to kill my darling.

I hit a couple of sequences here where he was dead center in delivering some information, dead center in chapters and events that happened, which I had to remove. And I did. But the consequence of that is I had to have an answer to how I was going to deal with some of these things.

And I had made notes around the fringes. I had critical stuff decided what I found was I had little things that I just wasn't across. And it's a lesson that I'll use this week, next week, the week after, and in book two.  what ended up solving the week for me was that when I sat down to address these chapters, instead of just trying to go writing and fix it, I made sure that all of the notes I had in my spreadsheet of all the fixes were written down alongside the chapter notes.

I've got them printed out. I've got the manuscript printed out with the edits on it. And just listed them and brought my brain right back into that moment. What had I decided? And it helped highlight, Oh, you haven't done this or you need an answer to that. Or what about this? And so I was just circling a few things, let that creativity stew in my head for five, 10 minutes while I was going through everything, and the answers just popped up for me. And at that point, then I was able to just sit down and write it. It took me all of Saturday and most of Sunday to get that flow happening and to recognize what was holding me back. Some of it was quite tricky to do, some of it was a significant shift in the pacing of that chapter or scene, in the way that the characters were interacting or in some information delivery.

And I had to interrogate some of my prior thinking. And as I recollect now on Saturday, one of the biggest stumbling blocks  was an element to do with the magic system in the world. There was a thread of cotton hanging off the side that needed to be pulled and cut, and I needed to unravel that and answer what exactly was happening with it and how.

There was a whole summary of what was going to be done, but it just didn't quite resonate with me. It felt wrong. It felt too soft. And that was one of the things that needed to change. We felt that some of the magic system had just, you drifted into an area of being far too soft and it was a bit convenient, the way that I was using it.

And I needed to tighten that down to make it what I actually wanted to happen. I got some help. My wife and daughter helped me brainstorm what was concerning me, a couple of great little solutions bubbled up and it just allowed me to move past it. But I think I lost half of Saturday struggling in my brain, on that because it affected a couple of chapters in how I was trying to resolve them.

So we moved past that, and that was really cool.

I'm looking at , what exactly did I do?  , I had to add , a complication for Lani, my protagonist. I ended up with a double-barrelled complication for her that I really enjoyed. I then took it too far. I had to bring it back and just find the balance in it.

And that conflict that she faced was. Very good, because what it did do was help me introduce an extension of one of the  plot threads. One of the key plot threads in book one, that needed to be a little enhanced, potentially. It wasn't critical that it did, but this just allowed me to  polish that a little bit.

And the next level of it, will be better for it  through the rest of the story. So I'm very happy about that. I effectively removed one character from part of the journey, which meant a critical piece of information delivery had to change. I resolved how that was all going to change, and that was simplified by the decision made with the magic system.

Taking some things out meant it had to be done in a different way, which was great. And it all flowed on from there.  Didn't feel great saturday, sunday, monday. I really was in my pity party Pam. There you go. Three P's. I was deep in my pity party until about Tuesday. And then I think I had a good writing session, cleared everything out, understood what had happened and where I'd got hung up and moved forward from there.

It's going to be interesting now, the next chapters, particularly this weekend coming up, I can see there's probably another three or four in my immediate view. At least two of those are going to get deleted, I can see that. . I can see how I added them originally, how I thought they made the story better, but really they didn't add anything. And in a journey,  like this. I think one thing I'm learning is, and I think I thought I had it clear in my head, and that is that you don't have to explain the whole journey. I think the reader can quite clearly make leaps along the path, down the road.

They don't need to sit there with you in the car, looking at every blade of grass that you go by. Not that theres car's in this book. I think you'd get what I mean. Understanding too little and too much is very hard, as a first time author, I thought I'd pulled lots of things out and I hadn't over explained it.

But as I reflect back on these at a more macro level, how they're helping the story, I can see some of them just aren't necessary, which is great. If I can get rid of a couple without thinking too much about it, it's gonna make my targets easier. Not that that's the motivation to do it, but making that story tighter, making it a better story, making more engaging.

That's the goal of what I'm trying to do. I started poorly, ended okay. Let's see what happens next.

Some Back Story

[00:11:44]

This week's backstory is probably more backstory to my thinking, the process, than it is to the book. Why set a deadline in the first place? Why am I putting myself under the stress to get the book out the door, when I could just pace it and just, you know, just get it done when it's done. There's a lot of background to why I set my particular day, but there isn't element of understanding the concept of shipping it.

It's a very tech industry term.  Seth Godin has a book called just ship it. And the principle is, , get the software out the door, get your product out the door, refine it as you go. And particularly with software, you can alter it, you can tweak it, you can get feedback, just get it out there and then adapt it on the feedback.

I'm not sure that that concept would be great as a story. Obviously, using beta readers and people like that is kind of similar to that. But putting it out in the marketplace as an unpolished work, isn't great, unless maybe you were doing it as a blog, getting feedback. And the finished product , was a published book.

I could see that working, but the principle is important and I've been to a few conferences and seminars and training courses and read and listened to people. And I see lots of people that don't have a finished product published, and I can understand that. And I think there's many people on the spectrum.

There are some people that write because they love to write and they don't really want to publish. So they'd write the large part of their manuscript and then they put it away and it's for them to read and maybe some close friends, but they don't worry about the full completion of it. They do it because of their love of writing.

There are other people that just don't seem to be able to get there for whatever reasons. Or they don't have the mechanics to be able to get it there because I decided to self publish when I chose how I was going to go about these books, I think I kind of circumvented part of the process, in that I knew I had to get it and learn things with the book because otherwise I'd never get to the end.

If you're trying to do as good a work as you can, and then send it off through the traditional publishing cycle, there's an element that you're still going to go through editors and other people anyway. And they'll dictate terms to you. For me, there is no one else. I am the publisher and I am the author.

And I went through a lot of education and learning to understand how I could edit the manuscript better, how I could get it to a certain point. Then I engaged a developmental editor/structural editor to get that all right. And the next stages of going through, getting the copy edits, and then the proofreading done is an all important part of it, but it could go on for forever.

I could not do the developmental stage or not do the next stage at my own timeframe. And that could push out to another year and that doesn't meet my overall goals. My overall goals are to get multiple books in the series published, hopefully one a year over the next five years. So that goal requires me to get book one out the door.

There's an element of, , conflict in that. And I kind of see this a little bit, like the principle of GMC, when you're looking at your book and your chapters and your scenes, , for the characters, what's the goal, motivation, what conflicts or challenges happen in that scene that stopped them getting towards their goal, help them get to their goal.

For me, as I explained, I want to complete and publish the novel, but I also want the novel to be one worth reading. Not for me, but for someone else and not someone in my immediate family or friend group, someone random that might pick up the book and go, I really enjoyed that story. I want to read more.

That's the goal for this book? I know that this book will never be as good as maybe book three or four or five. That just can't happen. The level of skill I have at the moment and the amount of practice I've done is just not high enough. And even with the feedback and the improvements that are happening right now, I still have so far to go.

It doesn't mean it's not a book worth reading, but the perfectionist part or the part of you that wants it to be really good, the criticizing part, the judgmental part goes, well, we should just do a bit more, we should just do a bit more and I've been struggling with it over the last week or so. Oh, am I rushing through these changes?

Do they need another run through with the editors? You know, just to make sure, sure. The story is absolutely correct. That could go on indefinitely. And I don't want it to go on indefinitely, becoming stuck in an endless cycle of editing to me, won't help me reach my goal. It won't help get more books out.

There is a point where I have to say, I've done the best I can at this level of writing and this level of investment. That needs to go out in the world. And from that I can move forward into the next book. And with book two already half written, there is an element of me that wants to get to that. I want to get there.

I don't want to short cut getting book one done well, but I am keen to get past it. So drawing that line in the sand was important. Publishing publicly a date when the book will be available was really important to help drive that. And many, many, many months ago I described it like this. If there's A, B and C level authors and as far as skill and delivery of their manuscript and,  , with A being the top, uh, famous publicly well known people, that craft wonderful, wonderful stories that just make us ecstatic to read.

Of course there's many levels of A, and there's many levels of B there's many levels of C defining C to me would be writing, publishing it without much time invested, putting the book out little bit of, you know, maybe proof-read and put the story out, but not making it that next level I wanted to make sure book one was in the B level somewhere.

It could be right at the bottom of the B's. I just wanted to make sure that I did invest in more than enough time and effort to make it a better story. And that's what my goal has been. I think if I try to be a B plus, or even just a straight B, there'll be three or four more years. And I don't know that that really suits what I'm doing the motivation to write was that I love story. I want to put my stories out in the world. The goal is to get one published, to do it well. I have a beautiful cover. I think the story is, is a really good starting point for the series. I'm happy with where it's ended up. And I think at the end of this editing sequence, I'll be, I'll be comfortably happy that I've reached that level that I wanted.

And I'll look forward to upping my game, each novel that I produce.  that's why I set the date. That's why October the 16th, 2020 is the date I'm going to publish the book. That's why I'm stressing. It's why I'm putting myself in this level of stress and conflict. Partly because when we have these levels of deadline and we have this conflict, I feel like it helps us lift our game as well.

It would be easy to say, Oh yeah, maybe you rushed through it, but I think you lift yourself to the level that you demand of yourself. I know when I was a competitive athlete,  you could do all these training events and there's a level that you get to. As soon as you put yourself against the competition into a race day environment, you just compete at a higher level.

It just happens not consistently every time. It's always better than training normally, but you might not always be able to maintain that same level, but the stress of the competition, the stress of the deadline, the need to achieve something within a set period, with certain expectations does drive you. Yes. It drives you mad as well, but it drives you.

And that's why I have a date.

Outro

[00:20:56]

Thanks for listening to this chapter of the In All Jest podcast. For the show notes and more about this podcast, visit kingdarryl.com/podcast. You can contact me through that site and find me on Twitter @ireckon. If you enjoy the show please tell others, share my posts and review it on your favorite podcast platform. Till next time.

 

Episode 7 – Am I making any progress at all?


Intro

[00:00:00]

Welcome to the In All Jest podcast.

I'm Darryl, your host, and each week I take you on a hero's journey.

I leave my safe, normal world and face many obstacles on my quest to publish not just one but six epic fantasy novels. .

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

You can find out more information at kingdarryl.com/podcast.

Episode seven August the 14th, 2020. Am I making any progress at all?

Since Last Time

[00:00:39]

Right, how did the week go? Well, 21,000 words, which is really good, that got edited and or written . I deleted three chapter s, and in total 12 chapters have been either edited or completely written and made new. So that's possibly 15 chapters. I could count, I almost made 16. Not quite though.

And in the big scheme of things with 3.7 weeks to go to my deadline, I've still got 65 chapters to go, to get 109 chapters done. That averages out to two and a half chapters a day or 17 and a half chapters a week. So it's getting a little bit bigger. It's going to be a mad rush to get there.

Maybe I'll slip behind. I hope not. I really need to go hard this weekend and try and get ahead of the week.  Typically crazy week, long days, lots of other work factors.  I'm involved in a not for profit board that takes some time, just numerous things that make it a little bit more hard to fit in extra time, but we're getting there. Still making headway.

I would like to think I was over the halfway point -- not quite there, but I should go over that point this week. Did make good progress with the story, and that's the important thing. , killing off three chapters was important, there were a couple of things there that weren't working; needed to get rid of them.

Some of the new writing that was done and just the tweaking of the chapters that I had, I'm really, really happy with, they're coming along really nicely. It's a hard grind. It is very much the work of it. I've spoken about that in previous episodes. This is the really hard grind part. Not to say that it's hard as an I don't enjoy it.

It's just, you have to sit down the work is already there, you have to work through it. When you have a blank page, you can either write to it or you have might have blocks, but when the work's there and it needs to be read and it needs to be edited and the notes and suggestions and all the comments alongside it have to be addressed.

Plus any planning that I did, all of that just has to be moved through. I can't rush through it, even though I said I , it's a big rush. I've got to read it. I have to understand it. And the thing I'm really having to stay focused on at the moment is the domino effects of the changes I've been making.

So in the 40, where did we get to 44, 45 chapters that I've done already -- I have made changes and in there little things I have to watch for, as we go along. One of the changes I made was reasonably significant to a device that my court jesters wore. We completely removed it from the story. There's little mentions or uses of that device throughout the story that I have to remember, Oh, hang on, they're not meant to be there. And because when the manuscript was edited, my editor assumed they were still in there, so they wrote editing notes around that content. But in our, , summary letter and in our meetings afterwards said, look, these are some of the approaches. I then  came up with a plan of how I would change the story to remove that device. And, uh, and I'm happy I did that. I'm really happy with the suggestion, but I have to remember when I'm editing, not to just edit the copy in the manuscript that I was given back, but to actually remember  that's something that I've scratched. And also there's so many little things where I might've changed a little description for an item, that only pops up randomly throughout the story.

But yeah, keeping that consistency is really important. And anyone that's writing a novel has to remember,  is that character left handed or right handed what color is there hair? Or what color are their eyes? So if they're referenced in any form of dialogue or description that you don't mix that up. We all are familiar with the bloopers or little elements of movies or TV series where things get missed or modern items turn up in an older story. I it's very difficult to do in a 200,000 word book. There's a lot of chances to get that wrong.

I have a Wiki, a private Wiki that I store a lot of details in. I don't have it fully up to date . And one of the things when book one is finished is to go through and completely get that up to date with book one, before I restart on book two, so I can stay on top of all these things.

Each realm has 10 to 12 cities or towns that I've defined. I'm adding characteristics about those places when they occur in this story.  when I go back through the edit, I might adjust that again. So at some point I have to get the important parts of that updated in the Wiki. I've added a couple of characters only minor secondary characters, but I keep a record of all characters names, so I can look at the character names I'm using and keep consistency. So there's lots of little things like that. I  really have to watch out for.

Of the new chapters I added this week, I think, they were all a little bit harder to write than one of the ones I did last week, which really I just hammered out and it was really great to write. The ones I did this time there was a complexity to them that I hadn't fully answered until I really got into the chapter. So the one last week I knew  exactly what needed to happen, I could see it in my mind, very clearly. For the chapters this week, I was creating additional obstacles for two different characters at two different times.

And it was an important part of this middle build section of my novel. The middle build  being half of the novel in size,  the way the novel's broken up is the,  introduction or act one, what I call the inciting incident is about a quarter of the book. Then the middle build is a half and then the climax and resolution is a quarter of the book, .

That's roughly how they work out.  The middle build is that part of the story where it's easy to lose the story, get a bit tedious, lose momentum. My editor and I are very happy with the act one pacing .

As it's transitioned into the middle build, it started to lose some of its pacing. And I got a little bit soft on my protagonist in the challenges that she needed to face. Another character needed some obstacles in her pathway as well. So I needed to include those. And yes, two of my very significant characters in my novel are female.

Both of these characters needed some obstacles. And I had an idea about the obstacle, the challenges that they might face and making sure they are realistic and truthful to the theme of the story was important.

One of them was  really fun to write, and in the end, I am really stoked with the way it panned out. And another element of the story was getting more Jesters on stage. And what I mean by that is the principles behind this story are about the world of Jesters  and how they would be perceived as just not a side character.

And I'm going to talk a little bit more about the Jesters in the next segment, but I need to get more on stage, you know, when they're actually behaving like a jester and the way it worked out, brought a lot of  characterization to a character that I had, you know, there, but wasn't in theory too important at that point, but will be further down. This jester interacting in their character role as the Jester, as the fool .

It was fun to actually bring it on there. I had been worried about the times I needed to get that right. Didn't want to overplay it, didn't want to underplay it, didn't want every one of my, Jester characters to be a cliche. And this particular one I liked, I liked the way that they fell into the story.  No pun intended when you read that chapter.

The most recent one was a lot of hard work. And the next day I ended up doing a really heavy edit on it, because I didn't feel it was my best writing, but now I'm very happy with it. So that's really been the bulk of the work this week. I feel like I made significant headway, some staggered results in there.

Like they, they took a bit longer than I'd hoped for, which did slow me down. But importantly, the story was maintained.

Some Back Story

[00:10.09]

The Jester. Why the jester? I've talked a little bit about my interest in the Jesters. This series is very much about the concept of the jester. mostly the court jester as a character. One of the things I've seen in most of the books in a fantasy genre that have a jester in them, the fool, is that they're sometimes important.  Robin Hobb has the fool as  strong character throughout  her series, but a lot of times they are secondary or tertiary characters. They play a bit part. Sometimes more significant, but they are the fool and that's what you see of them.

When I came up with the idea for the series, one of the key thoughts behind it was , who is a Jester when they're not a Jester? So if they on stage in the king's court are the fool, the witty fool or whatever fool type they might be. What happens when they aren't on stage when they're in their own room, when they might be out of their clothing and their particular costumes.

And they might be walking around town, just behaving more normal. Is there a line there where they are in a role and then they are not performing in that role and they're different. Are there those that they are that character, 24/7. How does that play out? How do you know who's a fool in that case or a Jester? If they're just someone in the street.

That was one of the ideas that really connected with me.  I wanted to make sure that they were a big part of the story. And the In All Jest series is very much about a society of Jesters. So not singular people, but a group or a guild, if you'd like to use that sort of terminology.  I call them a society or an organization and plucked elements of a history, and what occurred through ancient time. A lot of referencing on the type of medieval jester, but there is a much broader history  to Jesters throughout history. They've existed in ancient Egypt, China, Africa. A lot of african mythology talks about the trickster.

There's the court jester that we all recognize very clearly, but that there's a wide array of them and male and female as well. It's not exclusively that singular character. And also in famous literature, there's some Jesters that have been,  highlighted and this characterization has been made, but they are more widespread than that.

Typically though, the jester does aim their humorous barbs or arrows at similar targets; religion, and the religious representatives or self-important scholars, venal officials, nobles, rulers, particularly corrupt or lazy rulers and anything that was in theory, sacrosanct is where the jester showed up, pinpointing it and making barbs about it. And that's the area that fascinated me. And the more I researched, I found that there was actually several types of Jesters. There was that witty gesture that we were exposed to a lot in, the literature we see, the movies and pictures that we might recognize over time.

. That was easy to associate with and look at. But the other side to it is the mentally disabled or people that were considered crazy in those times who were considered fools literally. They were the fool, and the town fool, the village idiot, but also they might be employed to be the fool, because they had no filters or they just did the craziest of things and they helped provide some form of entertainment or provide a bouncing board for the person that was engaged with them . Mostly the witty or cynical Jester is the one that we see a lot of.

And particularly in the way, my story evolves, they're the types of people that you see, but we've really looked at where they form as a group, how they get created. what's the difference between a straight entertainer, progressing to someone that's acting as a Jester. Whether they're, part of a troupe, Troubadour, what about bards and other forms of storytelling?

where does it merge? Where does one become one or the other? And clearly there's some elements that provide visual recognition, particularly through the medieval time, the way that the jesters looked, the way they behaved, the type of role they had as a, court Jester, but they're a lot,  broader than that.

And a lot of Nobles would have a fool or a Jester employed that might not be as fully, cliched as that particular character.  what's the difference between a clown and a jester, how do we see them throughout, the bigger population?

That really influences the story a lot for me. I touch on elements of,  people that do have mental disabilities. People that might be rejected by society. ,And there is elements of truth that, some people that were physically or mentally disabled, in medieval periods were abandoned or considered outcasts.

But there was plenty of historical stories where that's not true and they were taken in and cared for. No, they didn't all necessarily live long, wonderful lives. But yeah, there's a real mix of things there. we have a concept in the book of the fool's cart and the fool's cart is something that travels around the realms and appears to the outside world to take people with, difficulties and, Lock them up and take them away, never to be seen or heard of again. And that's not actually true and I'm not going to provide spoilers, but the fools card has a role in the story. And in book one only a small role, but it will show up over time. It's part of the world background.

Then we have this whole society that forms around the concept of a Jester. And I really liked that because they were clever, they were witty. They might've had physical challenges. They might have been different. There are some famous Jester characters in,  old literature, and poetry, that were hunchbacks or physically afflicted like that.

So there's lots of things to consider in bringing this group together, but they also were the hidden person, which is interesting, when you think of them being in the face of their patrons and guests and being rude and belligerent, but there's this element that they could then have other things going on that they're influencing that people just don't look at them as being that person.

And I'm going to leave that portion of it alone now, because I don't want to ruin the story, but it is a really fun background piece to the series, the involvement of the jesters. And I did talk about in the first segment that I had fun writing one of these characters on stage fully in their role that I hadn't extrapolated in the early versions.

And I really had a lot of fun with it. I really enjoyed how it came out. I do not doubt that I will talk more about the jesters through this podcast because they are central to the whole story. Nothing more so than the tagline that I have promoting the book, which is it's all fun and games until someone kills the jester.

Outro

[00:18:49]

Thanks for listening to this chapter of the In All Jest podcast. For the show notes and more about this podcast, visit kingdarryl.com/podcast. You can contact me through that site and find me on Twitter @ireckon. If you enjoy the show please tell others, share my posts and review it on your favorite podcast platform. Till next time.

 

Episode 6 – My stress levels are building big time


Intro

[00:00:00]

Welcome to the In All Jest podcast.

I'm Darryl, your host, and each week I take you on a hero's journey.

I leave my safe, normal world and face many obstacles on my quest to publish not just one but six epic fantasy novels. .

I hope you'll come along for the ride.

You can find out more information at kingdarryl.com/podcast.

Episode six August the seventh, 2020. My stress levels are building big time. Man, I can feel the heat.

Since Last Time

[00:00:43]

Yes, stress is getting on top of me. Just under five weeks to my deadline, which is one week less than I said last week, because I didn't pay proper attention to the details. Of course, that means I set up my spreadsheet properly this week and had a look. 76 chapters to go, 2.3 chapters a day, which is basically 16 per week.

Which is a little bit more than I had planned, but that's because I didn't stick to two a day on average, early on in the process. So of course now it's building.

The good news is though I did 13 chapters this week, one more than the week before, so that's good progress, but I will have to lift my game even further to get to the target that I want to achieve, or should I say the deadline date that I want to achieve in September to allow me to publish A Fool's Errand on October the 16th this year. It means I am really feeling the heat.

I am feeling the stress, not only from that. Of course in my working life, it's turned up the heat big time with lots of projects and work going on all at the same time. So there isn't the flexibility to claim back time, in my working days. I literally have to do it outside of any working hours. What that has meant is I've stopped any weekday exercising over the last three or four weeks.

I'm feeling that. I don't have that relief and break, but I'm going to try and make sure that I at least exercise properly over the weekends and reset brain and body together. I need to exercise. It's an important part of who I am. So giving that up,has been hard, , but it has allowed me to use that early morning time to get through more chapters.

 

I pretty much get up at 5:00 AM and make a cup of tea and sit down and get on with the next chapter that needs editing.  It's worked pretty well over these last few weeks and this last week worked really well. On the weekend days I get through more, which means I'm not doing as much other fun stuff, but with only five weeks to go, it's not that long until I can take a bit of a break from that. And this is more pressing than writing the novel. The writing process is less stressful I would say. I have a word count. I sit down, I write words every day.  I don't have a big problem doing that.

 

in this last week I had a new chapter that I needed to write. I knew what it was all about. That was all part of the work I did with my editor and the fixes I came up with on paper. So having that outlined plan of what I needed to achieve made it really easy to do.  I wrote 2,400 words in an hour and a quarter. Went back and did a little bit of editing, but didn't need to do a massive amount, which I found  was very encouraging. That was a great mornings work. And I enjoyed that. So when I'm normally just writing chapters first draft, particularly,  I can knock out a chapter a day of the days that I sit down to do it.

This editing process, where I have a deadline that I need to get to has really upped the ante on me.  But that's OK. I just have to work through that. It's a new process for me. It's a new stage in the book production cycle, and I think trying to balance,  the work of it with the enjoyment of it is a critical part. But also it's something that professional, full time writers do every day, every week, they have the enjoyment of what they write, but it is a job.

It's a work activity that you need to do and you need to turn up and write. Steven Pressfield talks about this as do other accomplished authors, that you turn up and you write, whether you write one word, you write a thousand words or 10,000 words every day you go through your routines, you turn up and you write and that's no different to your day job.

If you're doing something else, you have to turn up. Yes, you get sick days. Yes, you can take weekends or holidays from that, but you have to get back to it and you have to maintain a discipline about it.  This is a different discipline to  writing, the first draft it's still writing.

As I said, I wrote a whole chapter,  one morning, very happy with that. But it is this focus on, there is a time that I need to get this done, and I haven't had that before. That wasn't part of my process. But that's okay. I've got to fit some other things in as well. Like the marketing and the prep for it, release of the cover of the release of the map.

I really need to do work on building my email list and other channels that I want to use, but got to fit that all in. So back to the story, uh, I needed to add in a chapter, which was the next stage in one of the key, pieces of the plot that my protagonist needs to have accompanying them through the story.

And I talked on this previously that there were some fixes I needed to do that would help the story evolve. Get things more on paper, but also enhance the complexity of her journey, of the challenges she was going to face. So I knew what that was going to be. I sat down, I wrote it. , I introduced a new character and I killed a new character all in one chapter.

 

So I felt very much like George RR, Martin, that I brought in this character and then got rid of them. It's not normal in my book. There's not massive amounts of people dying. There are a few deaths I will say, but this one was fun. I enjoyed the character, albeit they only had a short time on stage, but I did enjoy what I did with it.

I felt more accomplished, more skilled in approaching the chapter and what I needed to do. I knew from the day before what was coming up, I knew what I needed to do. And I think that really helped sitting down and just writing it. Which is going to be really interesting when I get back to  book 2, looking at what comes next and that process has been different anyway, because I do have more of an outline of book two than I did when I started the whole series originally, but that's going to be really, really interesting, cause it might facilitate me producing book two and book three, et cetera. quicker and with a better quality of first draft. Albeit they'll still need this cycle of editing multiple steps, multiple reviews, revisions.

But I think I can see how,  what I am now and what I will be in the future as a writer has definitely progressed and is going to progress. It was,  quite enjoyable actually, to reflect on what I've been doing on the other chapters this week as well. In that I've already naturally started changing my sentence structures and some of the little elements that popped up regularly in the editorial feedback that I got from Fleetwood.

Just little things here and there, but I'm seeing them myself now. And in writing sentences, I'm tending not to do that thing that I was doing. So that was , really encouraging as well, that I can already see myself 32 chapters in 33 chapters into the editing process, having progressed in the way that I'm working and the skill that I have around it.

I liked that. That was an unintended consequence, I guess, or unexpected immediate consequence from that editorial process. I knew, that I would get better as a writer progressively over time, but this one seems quite a quick, immediate change, that's just crept up on me from paying attention and respecting the feedback that I've received and, moving forward letting it just, , become part of me. Sort of absorbing it through osmosis into what I'm doing. The  learning has just crept into my work automatically from paying attention to what was being changed, noticing the patterns, seeing the commentary. I did shoot the editor, Fleetwood, the editor my editor Fleetwood a note this week via email to say, like, I just really enjoyed the way he delivered that feedback.

And it's been the most powerful thing for me in having that edit done. I think I mentioned it last week as well, but the way he delivered his feedback, the constructive criticisms, the method that he used to do it. Worked for me and that, and I think that's why it was so easy for me to pick up on these skill changes, these observations, because I never felt threatened or attacked about it.

They were just simply fixes that became very obvious with little suggestions, you know, adjust the way you structure this, here's what it could be, you know, this or this versus that. So that was really, really good. I am. I like learning. I like observing that I've learnt, , which is fun too. , so yeah, 13 chapters.

I won't bore you by talking through all of the chapters. A lot of them were quite simply working through some minor fixes, shuffling a few sentences and paragraphs around in order or eliminating things I did. Kill off another chapter as well, but I don't think I'm reducing the overall word count very much, particularly when I'm adding in content.

And I am mostly through another chapter already this morning where I added a significant amount of content to it, to enhance one of my secondary primary characters, , journeys. . So there's definitely  new words going in. , albeit that we did take out 25,000 words right up front. Not so sure we're going to end up with overall much less than the 200,000, the general word count that the book has.

Anyway, that's the, since last time segment for this episode.

Some Back Story

[00:12.19]

I think I'm going to talk about how I go about writing and the way I fit it in to my working life. In the segment before I talked about how I do it currently, the way that I get up early in the morning and sit down and I do that around the dining room table. And there's a reason for that. I have a studio separate to the house. I've had a dedicated office for me to work in for a number of years, both at the previous property. And then in this property, we built this about eight or 10 months after we moved in here. It's a four by four meter custom built studio.  The front face that I look out through is all glass ranch, sliding doors.

I have a window behind me. The Westerly and  Easterly sides are solid walls, which are covered in pictures and framed sporting memorabilia, and printouts of book covers, and. Items and positive slogans and a white board. And behind me, I have two book shelves that wrap around the window. And it's a really nice place. And if you can hear the birds in the background, it's because the studio is covered on two sides by some big trees.

So it's a really nice place. I look at the back of our property across the gardens and backyard.  And it was built to exactly the spec that I wanted. At the moment, because I'm doing a lot of my day work in the web design development strategy fields, I do spend a fair number of hours in the studio and I've found that being in the same place. For riding has a negative connotation for me at the moment. When I was doing the first draft, I had no problem  with writing in here on weekends and things, or even when I did it at a different time of the day.

And I reset the way the desk was set up at that time. So typically I'm at a standing desk during the day when I'm doing my technical work and I have a draftsman's chair which sits pretty high. So I have a slightly lower desk height if I want to sit down. So I alternate standing and sitting, but it's not ground sitting on the ground with my feet on the ground.

So I use the on the ground setting exclusively for writing. So that was a way that I, I could distance myself from work. Kind of use it as a gimmick to say, Hey, I'm in a different mode. Now I do also find that having the massive screen that I use for day to day work is a bit of a problem for me writing, because it allows me to see extra space on the screen, which tends to draw me off to, Oh, I wonder what's happening elsewhere, which is not great.

So what I do now is I just work on the laptop exclusively for writing. I don't use the big screen. And because of the hours I'm spending working during the day, I do the writing and editing in the house, put on noise canceling headphones, and work. And that's how I wrote the first draft. I had the laptop.

I have noise canceling headphones and for probably the first year, year and a half, I did it in the evening. And what I would do is I would sit down after dinner when everyone else was around still but they were washing dishes, chatting around lounge rooms and things like that. I sat at the dining room table, put the headphones on, put some music on, so I didn't hear them per se, but I felt like I was still around everyone.

And I just zoned in writing,  used Scrivener, had the daily word count -- that kept me accountable. And I just pumped through writing the story as best I could. And I had chunks of that writing time that went really well.  then I might get to a sticking point where I needed to do something. In most cases, it was research where I wanted to handle something within the story well.  so I would go off and into a little research rabbit hole, find myself lost for days on end. But most of the time I would write, four days a week. Other times it was five or six, but I always allowed myself in theory, a weekend where I didn't do it now. Because of other work commitments it might be that I wrote two days of the weekend and three days of the week or two days of the week.

I mixed it up, but I did try to get four or five days done almost every week. That went on for just over a year. It was roughly a year writing the first draft of writing time. And then I moved into the editing phase.  During that, I had big chunks of time where I was lost. I didn't quite know what to do next.

And so I would go away and research. Some of my research was listening to podcasts. I got a lot out of Sean Coyne's story grid, podcast, the story grid book, and some related podcasts and things that I felt were really really good. I found that at the right time for me, and it was already, I don't know, maybe six months to a year into the podcast, so I could start at the beginning and just crammed my way through it.

And what I used to do was I'd get up in the morning, listen to the podcast while I worked out in the gym, work during the day, and then I would write at night or edit at night, but I got to a point where the editing was quite hard work mentally. I found it harder than writing, and I also was a lot busier than I had planned in other activities, particularly daytime work.

At the suggestion of my wife, I changed up a little bit of what I was doing. And I moved the editing to the morning as well, which meant I got up earlier to work out, then I would eat and then I would edit and then start my day. That was really one of the best things I ever did because in my planning and I do do a lot of daily, weekly planning around my life.

What I found was I was carrying the stress of wanting to get this done every day, all day long. And I didn't get relief from it until eight o'clock, nine o'clock at night when I finished, Oh, finally, I've done my chapter or I've edited a chapter today, or I've done that research. So all day, the thing I most wanted to do, I didn't get done until the end of the day.

So I didn't get the satisfaction around it. When I moved everything to the morning and that included religiously working out many mornings or going for a walk, I ticked off two of my daily behaviors that I wanted to do, which was exercise and edit. And that was really rewarding. Cos I actually, it felt like I had achieved two of the most important things on my day before I even walked into the office.

So I think that was a really successful change for me. And I'll certainly trying to do, keep that up, albeit that in the opening sequence, I said that I've dropped my exercising. I think that's why I'm feeling the stress a little bit as well, because I don't get the reward of saying - the exercise is something I like, it's something important to me, I did it this morning. Tick that box, move on grunt through the day, put your feet up at night, get some sleep. Everything's going great. At the moment. I'm carrying a little bit of guilt about that and feeling that I'm not getting the physical benefits as well as the mental benefit. But that's been the process for quite a few years, four and a half years now.

I think of refining it really, really well, but that I guess his backstory element that, you know, what's involved in getting to this point.  it's that process that anyone that has a side hustle of any sort has to fit in. When do you fit it in? A really good friend and colleague that is now full time author. I know she used to do it on her lap, on the train to and from work every day, she used to be riding her early novels. And that commitment that we all have to give is how we get to the end point, which is getting these things out in the world. And, , she was really successful at it and still is. And while mine's taking plenty of time to get there, I know that the future books will be well served from refining, how I've been working through this over these years.

Outro

[00:21:36]

Thanks for listening to this chapter of the In All Jest podcast. For the show notes and more about this podcast, visit kingdarryl.com/podcast. You can contact me through that site and find me on Twitter @ireckon. If you enjoy the show please tell others, share my posts and review it on your favorite podcast platform. Till next time.