The Plot, As It Is Now

Hi there. Apologies for this one being late, but I used my days off this week to hunker down and finish editing Memory: Shadow of the Lord Sun. I completed it on Tuesday, then had to work the rest of the week until today, so sacrifices were made.

I’m still really happy about it though, because I’ve been struggling with this last edit for a long time.

With it, I had to fix one huge issue that kept smothering my queries: the beginning of the novel — a part that needs to impress — was weird, confused nonsense. It is, as I’ve said in previous posts, my curse as a discovery writer; I start with something meant to catch the eye, then figure out what the rest of the story is, but when the story’s done, it creates a world in which the intro no longer makes sense. Figuring out a fun, new intro without completely breaking the story, was difficult . . .

. . . because I felt like I was getting closer and closer to that point when you, as a writer, hit the foundations. When you decide, “Well, this important part of the story should maybe be completely different . . . Yeah! Let me completely redo it!” But completely changing the one thing turns into, “Let me change all the things!” so easily. In my youth, I thought that was fine. As an adult, I’m way less keen to give up on a story that has merit in order to change it into a completely new story. I acknowledge, these days, that those new ideas are meant to be short stories, or different novels altogether. I also acknowledge that scrapping and creating a new story is the easy way out.

Because it’s easier and safer to never finish a project. If you keep editing forever, you don’t have to deal with rejection. You don’t have to actually make sure any of your subplots have pay-off. If you keep editing forever, you get to keep feeling like you’re making progress, even when you aren’t. You get to tell a skeptical friend, “I’m making it way, way better!” even though you aren’t making it better — you’re making it different.

There’s a point when you just have to stop editing. When you have to accept that the manuscript you have is the one you’re going to put out there.

I have absolutely hit that point with this novel; a lot of the changes I made this time around were erasing changes I made in previous edits. Because I’ve reached the point where I’m just tweaking the plot based on my mood. There’s nothing else to do aside from making sure that the plot, as it is now . . . is cleanly and tactfully presented. On that note, there is one scene that I actually have to revisit (the new dream sequence) to make sure it’s as intense as it’s supposed to be, but that will take a day, tops.

And, regardless, I can still strap in . . . for the unbridled joy of submissions. Today, I can work on my submission package, editing the synopsis accordingly. And, yes, the synopsis is right up there with cover letters on the list of Things I Hate Writing, but at least this time, I’m writing a synopsis for a plot that makes total sense, instead of trying to hide an intro that’s strangely incongruous.

More than anything, though, I’m excited to get back to short stories. I’m going to tank the next few months on three in particular: Lokisday, A Dead God in A Silent Realm, and Hard Reset.

It’s going to be . . . amazing.

My plan for this year was to get another short story published. I got a little distracted by the promotion at work, but I’m getting back on track, and it feels great.

~~~

Thanks for reading. I’m going to grab lunch, come back, play a video game, then work on that synopsis . . . Yeah, ya know what? I’ll pick up some wine while I’m out there.

Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was published last year in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process — still trying to figure it out — which means posting here every week, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting updates by email — a new post from me delivered right to your inbox — then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.

Thank you just for passing by, and, as always, write well.

Just Keep Trying

Eleven years later and this is still my “getting work done” theme. Is there something I’m really serious about completing? Am I completely straight-faced and probably tired as I just get up and do it without complaining? Then this is what I hear.

After the last post, this song came on… for life.

That sounds sappy, but I’m not kidding. I had a negative experience two weeks ago (a friend went completely and actually insane on me). Although it wasn’t the reason my last post was so grim (maybe that was definitely just the fun of fresh rejection letters), I’m sure it didn’t help.

But, there comes a time when there have been enough negatives–enough ridiculous problems–that you just stop caring. I would call it a breaking point if that also didn’t sound negative.

I find myself thinking of it as an “Oh, gi–really? Fuck this” point.

So, about two weeks ago, Lightning Strike Rescue came on.

And I reworked “The Drowned God.” Just one more, neurotic edit and it’s off to Writers of the Future.

And then I reached out to a bunch of people I’ve shied away from–including near-strangers, which is crazy if you know the first thing about me. Instead of backing away, worrying about saying something stupid, I just talked and shared my work (because I think I’ll always need more readers), and then marveled as these people–even the strangers–just talked back.

And then I figured out a lot more about the sequel to Memory, making me super eager to finally get back to that story. I did get my first rejection for it, but I just need an afternoon to find a batch of new targets for submission.

Which I haven’t had time to do because, somewhere in all of this, I got a new job. As a line editor. At an indie publishing firm.

That insane, immediate turn around.

I… am a superstitious man. Superstitious and a writer. So, of course, even when I drop the hammer–even when my face goes all dispassionate and I’m all, “let’s do this”–I’m still inherently so used to failure that it’s… bizarre to have the world immediately vomit good things right back at my face. I narrow my eyes and cast them about, one eyebrow raised. “What… is this?” I ask.

I wonder, “Is this job going to implode somehow?” It’s immediately the best one I’ve ever had; I’m getting paid to do that thing I went to school for (a thing I love doing)–so lay it on me universe. What’s the catch?

And in reply, the universe throws a friendly Black man at me two days ago, on the 2 train.

“You reading Homer?”

I nod and this stranger strikes up a conversation–something I have the hardest time in the world doing. Only this time, after a full two weeks of not having everything I say questioned by anyone, I’m oddly fine. This is just a conversation. People have them all the time.

At first, we just chat about literature–The Count of Monte Cristo is his favorite.

Eventually, he explains that he did time. Immediately, the warning siren goes off; I have to wonder if he’s conning me, because, as a New Yorker, I’ve already been on the bad end of this very con (along with countless others). But there’s no too-firm hand shake or veiled demand for money. As this man continues talking, I feel horrible for even expecting it.

After he’s explained his love for Dumas, he gets pensive. “Man,” he says, staring off, “I’m responsible for so much of the evil you see out here. But God and I have an understanding. I woke up today, so I know he’s not angry.” He smirks. “I’m trying, my brother. Working. I gotta make up for the things I’ve done.”

“I can’t imagine how rough that is,” I say.

And he shakes his head.

“You’re doing good, dude,” I say. “You have to just keep trying.”

A few stops later and he shakes my hand. “Take care, my brother!” and he leaves the train.

I sit, stare at nothing.

And I think about how sad I’ve been and how stupidly grateful I should be.

~~~Writing Update~~~

LS-ProgressSidebar(inPost)-6.24.15I really have spent all of my free writing time working on “The Drowned God.” I have it out to a few new readers, including one of my favorite streamers–Hootey, from Vinesauce, an intelligence nerd and teacher who initiated charity drives on his streaming network (so, really, the best kind of person). I’m intending to give it one more look and then send it out to Writers of the Future–only because that’s an easy next target (arguably, the hunt for magazines that accept multiple submissions takes way longer than the incredibly simple submission form for WotF).

After that, it’s back to editing Memory. #SFFPit didn’t go well, but I was ready for that. I just need a quick read to make sure my additions don’t slow the pace or hamper the personality of my main character. Then it’s that hunt for submission targets.

In the future, my heart has finally come around on War of the Hex. After a while away, I’m ready to try again and hopefully have two novels and a short to submit everywhere.

And that’s it. You can get a more steady stream of me on Twitter @LSantiagoAuthor, although, be warned: that’s where all my gaming talk comes out. Video games aren’t all I tweet about, of course, but sometimes, Bungie just can’t stop proving how addicted they are to manipulating their fanbase or Nintendo can’t stop giving horrible showings at E3.

Regardless, thanks again for passing by. And, as always, write well.

An Arrow on the Wind

I’m instituting a posting schedule. I have to admit that this blog is hanging on a thread for me; I appreciate everyone who reads it, Likes, and Follows, but this public journal is still hanging on for dear life because so am I.

I’m perpetually on the cusp of total failure–riding it like an arrow on the wind, always slowly tipping down. It feels silly to make it sound dramatic; dramatic isn’t how it feels. It feels like absolute shit.

But, I’m going to work against the doubt and the hate–it’s what I do.

So, first step–blog more often. Particularly because I went crazy editing Memory last month, and I feel that would’ve been a good thing to share.

I had the task in mind–the need to edit the whole book, reinforced with the mantra of “one chapter a day.”

Then I sat down and edited the entire book in three days, taking breaks only because I had full additions to make and didn’t want to rush them. I don’t keep records of these things, oddly adverse to my own achievements as I’ve been. I should maybe change that (strange how unimpressed I am these days that I’ve finished multiple books, but I’d like to think it’s part of the process–that it’s a step toward becoming a person who’s whole thing is finishing their novels).

Regrdless, not being impressed doesn’t mean I’m not pleased; I smirk as I think about my promises to myself that I’d at least have the first few chapters ready for #Pitmad and #SFFPit. The time for that careful prodding is over, I think.

Replaced by a desire to just start writing the sequel for Memory–annoyed that I’m not rich so I can’t just start writing Alemachus (name pending) or other new characters. I can’t give myself the luxury of anticipation and freedom because I know that the arrow is still falling.

It still has a long flight ahead of it, I admit if I’m honest with myself; there is still much falling to do. The thing is, being realistic about writing means understanding that when that arrow’s flight is done, it still might end with a silent punch into the dirt.

~~~Update~~~

LS-ProgressSidebar(inPost)-6.8.15I finished my 3rd draft of Memory, and although I’m sure I’ll go through it again in a week or two (for… fun?) I’ve already started submitting. Pitmad went well for me, but I know in the center of my greasy heart that this is only the start of Memory’s submission run.

I’ve only just started editing The Drowned God, a short story I love, through which I’m finally learning the art of the short. In the update box here, I say I’m “overhauling” it, which I feel is appropriate; I often opt for small tweaks that are a ton of work to implement, even if they just slightly benefit the tone of a story (a global change in tense, for example). In The Drowned God’s case, it’s a far more annoying change, but the result will definitely be that short’s final form.

For more updates or completely random ideas, thought up in the mind of an insomniac (like, “You’re an air vampire”), be sure to follow me on Twitter–@LSantiagoAuthor. While I always appreciate a Like, Follow, or Comment, thank you just for stopping by. And, as always, write well.