The Jigsaw Puzzle of My Book

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For a while now, I’ve been up to my neck in the mire of writing. Every writer has come to this point… Some more times than others. However, I’m in it the worse. I’ve sunk too far this time because of a big mistake on my part. I didn’t outline my book before I started writing. I can’t stress the importance of doing an outline before you begin writing. Every journey needs a road map and an outline is exactly that.

I started three years ago on this adventure and it’s taken me many places. It’s taught me valuable lessons and catapulted me through crazy experiences. It’s been a wild ride. But now I’m sinking in quick sand and trying to find my way out.

My book is a jigsaw puzzle. It’s solvable and not as difficult as a Rubik cube. Thank god. But the problem is I’ve looked at it too many damn times and my head sometimes feel as though it’s ready to explode. This was how I felt a few days ago and then I decided to do something.

I uploaded my book to my tablet in weird crazy font with the hope it’d look a little fresher to my eyes. It worked. I was able to read it easier. I found many mistakes I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed. It also helped that I hadn’t look at certain chapters in a long while. I also decided to create a storyboard of sorts.

Storyboarding… Isn’t torture. Ever since stories about CIA waterboarding torture came out, the phrase Story Board always reminded me of that. But story board is probably one of the best techniques a writer could use. It helps you outline your book. Most artists use it when outlining their cartoons or ideas. I spent the weekend, pouring over my manuscript and outline each chapter on a notepad. I then transferred my notes to pieces of paper titled Chapter 1, Chapter 2… And taped them to my wall.

SherlockHolmesGameOfShadows16I’ve always been fascinated by the maps or plans people in movies made on their walls. Such as the one in Sherlock Holmes. I’ve secretly wanted to do that. Now I’ve an excuse to without seeming slightly mad or crazy. Of course, I didn’t go all out like Sherlock did in the picture above.

I’m a visual person. I think better when my idea can be mapped out. When I can actually see it. Creating a story board for my book has so far greatly helped me. I’m able to see the skeleton of the plot more better. I can see what happens and what is about to. A feeling of excitement rushes through my bones. I imagine this must be how God feels sometimes when he views the world. To be able to see everything that will happen to the characters involved and to imagine all the possible things that could happen. In other words, to build a 4d and 5d model.

The Words all look the Same. How Strange…

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When you write, you’ll reach a point where it’s impossible to read your story. You know everything bit by bit. All of the words. Everything that happens. You’ve slaved away on this manuscript for months, years, however long. After spending long nights in your basement punching out letter after letter on an Remington typewriter… Ok, maybe not a typewriter or basement but you get the point. After you’ve punched out the complete thing, you’ll want to proof read it. You turn the pages over and start to read but come to a earth shattering realizing. All the words look the same! Nothing makes any sense!

This has happened to me too many time to count. And I’ve dealt with it in many different ways. Some people will suggest getting an editor. An editor is a brilliant and probably the best option. They are a fresh pair of eyes. They understand how stories are suppose to work. They may not be good writers themselves, but damn, they can smell an error ten miles away.

But if you’re like me and couldn’t possibly pay someone $1000 to edit your story, then you do what I did. You come up with a creative solution.

When I hit a wall like this one and don’t have the capital to hire a gun, I do one of two things or both. (a) Get a friend or family person to read it. (b) Go over it myself.

I have very few friends who can read my stuff and give me the advice I need. In that case, I go with the latter option of myself. But then I remember the fact that I can barely read the manuscript and the errors are invisible to me. This is where the creative thinking comes in.

Print off your story. But in different font. Make it really weird font. I usually write in Garamond, so I’ll print it off in some strange font nobody’s heard of like KC Fink. DA FONT is a really good place to go for crazy font. I change the color and size of the text. I make it look at different as possible. The purpose of this is to make the manuscript look different so it’ll feel a bit new to you. It’s still your same book and you know this. It won’t read like some novel you randomly pick up at the library. But hopefully it’ll read a little fresher.

Another thing I do is cut up my manuscript into a thousand different pieces and spread them across my living room/bedroom floor. But this takes up a lot of time and if you don’t happen to have all the time in the world like I love to pretend I do, then you don’t have to go with this option. Just open WORD or Google DOCs and change the font of your book. Make it look crazy. Silly. Weird. Different.

Another option is to upload the entire thing to Fictionpress.

Behind Every Genius is a Cup of…

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My day started with my alarm going off at 6 in the morning and it taking me five minutes to actually realize something was making noise. I didn’t scramble from bed but rather sluggishly crawled. It was a coffee sort of day. I could have quickly turned into Daffy Duck and taken a sludge hammer to the alarm clock or pushed a button that’d send it hurtling through a trapdoor into a black hole. But regretfully, I made myself get up.

I stumbled blindly through the rest of the morning. Stopping at the coffee shop, grabbing a cup of the darkest espresso, buying a muffin, getting on the highway, beeping at the idiot who swerved in front of me this morning and almost killed me. I did make it to work safely – if you could call it ‘safely’. But it’s definitely a coffee day.

It’s Shambles… but Progress!

Today, I walked through the infuriating heat that has taken hostage my city to the college library. In the morning, the weatherman in his forever cheery voice announced the temp would reach the 90’s by this afternoon. Yet, the sun was scorching this afternoon and it felt as though I’d stepped into an oven. Anyone who lives in the South and is reading this… these words are probably going through your head, “90! That’s nothing. You west coast folks are pussies.”

Your criticism is just. But note, we’re not use to stepping outside and finding our skin slowly melting off our bodies. But all complaining put aside, the day turned out to be very productive. I reached the library to find it somewhat vacant. Only a handful of summer students and staff populated the area. I set my stuff down and hooked up my laptop in my usual spot in the book room. I conveniently had it all to myself 🙂

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WP_20150610_001I plugged my laptop in, opened up Word, turned some music on and got to work. I wasn’t able to write much but I was able to break through a wall that’d been keeping me stuck for the past days. You know the moment when you’re fingers start to itch to write and you know whatever you write next will be magical? That’s how I’ve felt since yesterday. I was completely swamped with work yesterday and didn’t have the time or energy to write. As soon as some free space opened up, I grabbed my gear and headed off to a place with free wifi.

Currently, my book is in near-shambles. What I mean by that is, it’s currently a jigsaw puzzle. Certain pieces aren’t where they’re suppose to be and require some direction as to where they should be placed. Those few scenes were my barrier and my writers block. It’s the hurdle I conquered today and I’m feeling good about my book’s direction. There’s still a ton of muscle work and heavy lifting that’s going to be required but I’m confident of the direction I’m headed.

A Fresh Start

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I hated the way my bio read, but I’ve been so busy the past months that I did nothing about it. It was starchy and didn’t sound like me. Today, I gave my website a brand new look. I hated the way it was. Everything about it seemed so cluttered and messy. I thought about doing a vertical menu side bar but after realizing almost every online web builder doesn’t have one in a template, I decided to stick with the vertical. I realized that the vertical was a bit better looking anyways.

After sprucing my site up and being happy with the outcome, I came to the bio. Oh, the wretched bio. It took my life and mashed it into a very small sentence of boredom. It was like I came to this world and that was it. No accomplishments. No conflict. No nothing. I was a robot. Mrs. Robot.

I started backspacing the entire paragraph and then deleted it. Start over new. Do you ever feel that moment when you know what you type next will be perfect? I knew it before I even started typing. I knew that this bio would be genuine. I did what I’d failed to do with the other one. I started with the beginning. When I started writing and what inspired me. I remember feeling confused, confounded when I’d first begun writing my bio. I had no idea where to start. A bio? What’s THAT?

It turns out the bio isn’t that hard. You will have many failed attempts, trust me. I had plenty. I did a freewriting. I jotted mumble-jumble down on hundreds of sheets of paper. I scribbled. I doodled. And when I’d finished, I was nowhere near the finish line of perfection. Sometimes it takes time. Work your butt off and slave over it. Then take a break. As long as you need and when you come back you may be surprised at what you find.

That’s exactly what happened to me. I slaved over my bio like a China man building the railroad a century ago. I was working on the railroad. I dedicated very long coffee-filled hours into the little 300-word paragraph. I added it to my website and hit publish. For several months, it remained on my very little visited website. Where nobody but myself read it.

Eventually, I forgot about it. Like a date night gone back it went to the back of my mind and was never heard of again. I became dreadfully preoccupied with work and re-re-editing my book. Then about a week ago, I visited my website again and felt very dissatisfied. I itched to redo the whole design. But like the slacker I am, I put it off. The longer I put it off, the more it itched in my mind. Finally I came to it.

It took me a few hours to finish but the whole end result was very promising. It became a simple website. A website that’d be easy to read for my visitors. And my bio… It reached near perfection. I feel that it truly reflects who I am and I’m very happy with it. Apparently the long break did me a lot of good.