Getting The Funk Back and Lots of News

I’m talking dirty, five-year-old shoe funk, too. Real funk, not the light suburban stuff. Anyway, thanks to all readers for indulging me in my screeds and existential angst (read: kicking and screaming) of the last few weeks. I’m still not sure exactly what that was all about, though I suspect it was some battle for autonomy inside myself that had little to do with the outside world yet manifested itself all over this blog.

Messy.

Anyway, the effect has already been a net positive: ย I’m having more fun with my writing, and discovering a new process for writing and editing that will, cross your fingers, prevent one or the other getting out of balance. I just don’t think I’m built for editing a whole novel in one go; I get so caught up in these grand ideas of literary theory, craft, and ideas of what does and doesn’t work that I tie myself in knots. I mean, that’s okay! We all have our weaknesses, but you see the results. Something had to give. So I think the answer is writing a few chapters and then going back and editing those so I have a “sense of accomplishment”.

Oh, and the chapters are also a little more polished up front and this allows me to make more adjustments on the fly. For instance, a whole new Chapter 1 emerged from the editing process on Room 3 and had ripple effects through the already-completed manuscript. With this new approach, the ripple effect is lessened and it can and don’t feel overwhelmed with either the writing or editing process.

I can do this. At least, I think. In the end, the answer to the artists’ dilemma, for me, anyway, was to try to make it doing the things that I love. If I fall short or fail, then so be it. I’m not so married to the idea of becoming a full-time fiction writer that I’m willing to water my work down. Write well? Sure, that’s my overall goal. Improve my craft? Absolutely, but not to the point that the tools get in the way of the work being done. I wasn’t considering anything like just throwing poorly-written stuff out there. My biggest question was whether I should dumb down certain aspects of my stories or follow more traditional paths, and I’ve reached some peace with this decision.

That’s right. I feel like “it” is back. Whatever “it” might be. Possibly something very untoward, but it’s back.

On another note, I’ll be returning to editing work on Room 3 shortly, having polished off a second draft of The Station for the enjoyment/disgust of beta readers. I’m incredibly excited about this story; it’s received some glowing early feedback from the first draft and I feel it provides a solid backbone to City of the Dead. Oh, and I’ll be starting work on that tome VERY soon. I have the first half of the book pretty solidly planned at this point and am excited to put pedal to the metal. I’ll be balancing it with a horror short story for an anthology that will be releasing later this year. So, let’s take a look at what’s still coming this year:

  • The Station release (hopefully sometime in April).
  • Room 3 release (shooting for May).
  • City of the Dead (August/September timeframe?).
  • Untitled Horror Anthology (with some GREAT writers whom I really respect).

And I’m hoping to release at least one more short story before the year is out. What I’m trying to say is that things are quiet now, but it’s going to be a pretty full calendar year. Early next year I’m hoping to have either Geist or Portal of the Dead ready to go…still not sure which will take priority. It all depends on how City wraps up and if I need a break from the universe.

One more note about that universe: I’ve decided to add a fourth book to the series, though strictly speaking it won’t be part of the Among the Dead series. The book itself will be set during the height of the Watcher Empire, in the 8th century BC (The Station is also set during this period), and revolves around Grabbe and his struggle to come to terms with what the Empire has actually become. It will be built off of the original concept for City of the Dead. No idea when that might be coming out, definitely no earlier than late 2013/early 2014, but it’s on the table.

Of course all this sounds like it might be even more of a workload than I’m currently facing, but I think it’s about working in a smarter fashion, not working more. We’ll see how that process plays out, though. Anyone made any adjustments to their processes lately that they’d like to share? I’d be curious in hearing it.

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13 Comments

  1. Feeling a bit overwhelmed?
    You are feeling better you say!! More power to you! You seem organized, happy, and ready for more.
    As for editing–eek–it is NOT my strong point. My ADD-type thinking gets very much in the way. Great that you have it broken down into do-able pieces.
    So Go John GO!!
    (And make sure you get some sleep during this whole process:)
    Penelope
    P.S. I want to be in the horror anthology…

    • Jonathan D Allen

      Hah, thanks! My new key is reminding myself every morning that this is supposed to be fun – if I start dreading what I’m going to work on that day, then I have to switch gears and work on another story.

      As for the horror anthology, I wish we had met when it started picking up speed! I think the lineup is set now. I’ll be sure to mention you for the next one, though ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. You sound like you’re doing great, man.

  3. I have every faith that you’ll kick some big-time ass, my love.

  4. My biggest change to process has been to just f*cking write! And then write some more. I used to spend a lot of time fiddling, but I’ve learned the opposite lesson about my writing style than you have learned about yours. For me, I need to write to the end (some sort of end, probably not The Final, Perfect End) and then go back and revise. Going chapter by chapter to write and revise made me too panicked I’d never find an end, let alone The End. My WIP has an end, and I’ve spent the past few weeks adding chapters to the beginning. Will there need to be a LOT of editing, reordering, revising? Yep. And then some. But… I know what the story is, and as long as I know, I can work.

    I’m glad you’ve found a way around your writer’s turmoil. I know it wasn’t easy. Thanks for sharing the journey, too – even the messy parts – because it gives all of us who are facing or will face similar stumbling-blocks hope.

    • Jonathan D Allen

      I honestly thought the “just write” thing was the answer for me. It seemed to work for awhile. I’m not a bad editor, so I figured that just going back and editing later would work. Unfortunately, I find the editing process too dry and sterile if it goes on for too long. I need to be creating at the same time. I think it’s a matter of accepting my ADHD and incorporating it into The Process.

      But thank you…I wanted to be writing a lot more about things like the paranormal and more cool old tech, but my brain was a mess. I’m glad folks hung in there with me.

  5. thanks for sharing all of this, Jonathon–We all go through these weird times and it’s good to know someone else is experiencing the same highs and lows! sounds like you’re back on track and purring along…

    • Jonathan D Allen

      Thank you! I think you’re right, we need to make mid-course adjustments, and sometimes our brains force it on us.

  6. Good for you Jonathan! I too went through the struggles of overloading myself and had to find that spot where my muse was once again happy. It took a few months but I’m there now. ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad to know that I’m not alone in these sorts of struggles, thanks for sharing!

    • Jonathan D Allen

      Oh I’m glad to hear you’re back to it as well. I remember hearing that you were going to take a step back and now I certainly understand why!

  7. My only real change has been adding (perhaps foolishly) exploration of freelance work to my already packed schedule. Just when I thought I was getting a grasp of what I should be doing with my limited free time (meaning my time not teaching, grading, watching my two-year-old, or trying to spend time with my wife). We’ll see. I’m just dipping my toes for a little experience in case I take it on more seriously next year (read: in case my wife gets a better job and I get to be home full-time… I’ll cross my fingers if you cross yours :)).

    I’m not crazy about editing as I go, but I can see some advantages. And whatever works best for you and makes the craft enjoyable again, I say do it.

    By the way, what the hell is going on in that flash image? Reminds me of the YouTube video of the guy who filmed himself at his kitchen table with a roughly egg-sized homemade firework. I think he lost half his hair.

    Paul D. Dail
    http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

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