"Monkey in Clock Faces" graphic art - Click to enlarge or buy.

“Monkey in Clock Faces” graphic art – Click to enlarge or buy.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me how it felt to finally have my book Skinshifter published. I told him that I felt like I had just hiked up to a mountain top only to discover that the mountain’s peak was actually just a base camp for an even larger mountain.

Writing a book is very much an uphill climb in which every step of progress I make is hard-fought. Put another way, writing is tantamount sitting at my desk with a blank screen in front of me and a snarling, 500-pound gorilla perched across my hunched shoulders. With each point of progress that I make when I write, a pound or two is removed from that 500-pound weight. When I finish writing the first chapter, I see two pounds subtracted. I breathe a little easier, but I still know that I have 498 pounds to go. Once I finish writing the book’s rough draft, it’s like having fifty pounds are stripped off of my back. A somewhat blissful smile on my face now that I’m left carrying only 450 pounds on my writerly shoulders.

To new writers, it must sound strange that a full rough draft of a whole book is worth only fifty pounds of gorilla weight in my estimation. However, more experienced writers will know that a completed rough draft is only the first step forward in the writing process. Revisions, not first drafts, are the key to great writing.

This brings me back to the 450-pound gorilla. After a couple weeks of much needed diversion, I can come back to my gorilla novel with a clearer mind and a less achy back. I position her back on my shoulders, endure her repeated attempts to comb through my eyebrows in search for edibles, and start editing all of the major blunders out of her. Are there plot holes to fix? Does that character’s arc make sense? Was I clear in my descriptions of things? When the second draft of the book is finished, I feel another twenty-five pounds drop off of my back.

Third-draft revisions help me iron out all of the language. How is my grammar? Is my punctuation up to par? Did I misspell that pesky homonym again? With two good revisions behind me, it’s time for advanced reader critiques and editor revisions. Am I explaining everything in a clear, concise manner to my readers? Are there any accuracy errors? Can readers relate to my characters? Did I really misspell that irksome homonym again? By the time I finish implementing the corrections from my advanced readers and the copy editor, I’ve shed close to 150 pounds off this massive gorilla of a project. Weighing in at just 350 pounds, she seems almost manageable now.

A final round of proofreading happens before the book is given a gorgeous cover, front copy, back copy, legal protection, and proper formatting. Now it’s ready for its publishing debut and I’m almost dancing under only 225 pounds of weight. Before I can get to the publishing date, however, I have to snag reviews from advanced readers and formal reviewers, wheedle blurbs from fellow authors, and garner any other publicity I can find. Then it’s off to the marketing races in which my book has to compete with every other book in the market that happens to be related to my genre for reader attention. Is it any wonder that commercial success in this business is hard-won?

I think I’ve become pretty good at navigating the first 300 pounds of each writing project, but I’m still battling the last 200 pounds. That being said, the whole process of book writing and publishing is a challenge that I absolutely adore!

Hopefully I’ll continue learning to navigate book marketing right along with book creating. For now though, I’m still grappling with 200 pounds of Skinshifter on top of another 500-pound gorilla that just climbed on my back. Meet Dreamdrifter, the 130,000-word-long sequel to Skinshifter. I know that you’ll absolutely love it once I get it refined and introduced in the more sophisticated parts of the world. For now, though, I think I’ll take a couple of pain reliever pills for my sore shoulders and keep writing.

Until next time, may we each rewrite our world for the better.


P.S.-For those of you read my last post, I have amazing news! Thanks to the incredible folks at DataSavers, about 98 percent of the data on my defunct hard drive has been restored! I couldn’t be more relieved or grateful. My entire photography and graphic design portfolio is back, so watch the website for new artwork!

The Seared Cookie Report: one Artist/Writer’s Labored Soliloquy (SCRAWLS) is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with fine art, love, speculative fiction books, and tea suggestions for all. Please let me know your thoughts about this particular post and, as always, if there is any subject you wish me to discuss, contact me. Thanks!