If Sundays are going to become the lit corner on The Bathroom Monologues, then I might as well start with the book I've been hammering at all week. I'm fully editing Last House in the Sky, hoping to have a sparkling draft before ReaderCon in July. Four beta readers turned in fully marked up manuscripts, fewer than I was counting on, but these four did thorough and wonderful jobs.
I cheated on this novel, soliciting an alpha reader to let me know if the whole things too nuts. It's about thieves trying to steal a flying city from a cult, with a backdrop of dinosaurs and hungry robots, so there was the slim chance that it wouldn't make sense. My alpha was enthusiastic, and luckily the betas have agreed that running with my love of The Weird works. I'm considering running the very brief first chapter as a Friday Flash some time.
|I'm not tired. I could write longer.|
If you want it, I'll write about how the revisions process is going. It's been surprisingly fun so far, when I'm not shaking. But today I'd like to chat about what I'm learning from my betas, both about them and myself. All my old convictions remain true: a spread of specialties and interests among betas helps, you need people who will call you out, and there really is nothing as good as getting multiple betas to laugh at the same line.
Being the second novel I've had properly beta read, I'm starting to absorb more of the trade. A big part is picking people whose intelligence and patience I trust, so that I can come at them with any questions, be it on wording or how alternative gender gets handled. The ability of betas to feel they can write anything on the MS, and for you to feel you can have conversations long beyond their notes, is integral making the work better. I'm a very lucky man to have the friends I do.
I've also learned more about procrastination. When I first asked them to finish it in two months, one reader commented that he thought that was far too long. I was surprised, and so it's my own fault I was surprised a second time one month in, when I found five of the seven readers had read less than a hundred pages. Three hadn't started at all. They weren't lazy; it's a basic human feature to procrastinate, to do other things right now, and to swear you'll get to it later. Three readers thought if I'd asked for it in one month, they'd have nailed it immediately. Life got away from them.
Near the end of the beta period I reached out to an additional reader, apologizing for the tight constraints. She read through the entire thing in three weeks and left 800 comments. She was no superwoman; all my betas were smart people, but with tighter time constraints, she just went to it. God bless her.
I learned harder truths about myself. I am now fairly certain that heavy composition or editing will always worsen my neuromuscular syndrome; in writing to you now, my fingers keep hitting the wrong keys because they're shaking.
My appetite is much greater than usual, the level of pain in all my extremities is worse and unremitting with sleep, and most concretely, I'm turning into a spud. My elliptical records how fast and far I go in any given amount of time, and it's revealing that I am physically incapable of exercising as hard as I normally do, getting winded and exhausted minutes sooner than usual, and no matter how I approach the overall workout, not hitting the distance I'd set for the last three months. When I force my body to hit the speed I used to average, I persistently suffer asthma attacks and muscle spasms. I don't recommend muscle spasms.
This has lasted all week, and it's not the first time it's happened. It was the case six months ago when I was writing this novel. It also happened persistently in writing and later editing The House That Nobody Built. I think big writing physically wears me down. The corporeal form is pesky like that.