May 24, 2012

My Revision Ritual

So!

I am in the midst of revisions for my agent. Yes indeedy, I am. Right now, I'm knee-deep in adding world-building details, deepening character motivation, and looking up random topics on Wikipedia. Such as:

How did the Nazis view religion? 
Do Unitarians use any symbols? 
How tall are cornstalks in April? 

Apparently, I am writing a book about Nazi Unitarian farmers. It's gonna be a bestseller, I tell you!

This is my second time tackling revision notes for my agent. The first time around was for my middle grade space opera, which needed a lot of work and thus required more extensive notes. This time around, my notes have focused more on world-building and character inconsistencies, but I find myself going through the same revision ritual as before. You know, a little bit of flailing, a little bit of angsting, a little bit of ARGHing, and then...acceptance.

Step One: Freak out a little


This is par for the course, no? Every time I get revision notes from someone---whether it's my husband or my agent or my beta readers---I tend to flail. After all, it can be overwhelming to have your work, your precious baby, critiqued and dissected and pulled apart. And being the delicate flower that I am, I must have a good freak out!

Step Two: Think it out


After my flail session, I need some quality time to let my revision notes sink in. Fortunately, I received my notes when I was in Taiwan so this step was easier to achieve. I'd let my mind drift to editing when I was riding on the subway or slurping noodles or, you know, running away from gigantic Formosan spiders. They were as big as my hand!

Step Three: Talk it out


Now, I call in the reinforcements! This is when writing friends come in handy. You can talk revisions with them! And they shall impart wisdom! For this revision, I emailed my beta readers and chatted about what I wanted to do with my next revision. What sort of world-building details should I add? What did they think about the idea I had for fixing a certain problem? After we spoke, I sat down with my computer and pondered some more.

Step Four: Butt in chair


There comes a point in a writer's life in which she can no longer procrastinate. That time has now arrived. After flailing and thinking and brainstorming, I finally get down to business. That is, I stare at my laptop...and stare some more.

And then, THEN!, I get down to business.

First up, I create a new Sticky note on my Mac where I jot down all of the revisions I need to tackle. (If you have a a Mac and don't use Stickies, why the heck not?!) Then, well, I just start. Typically, I begin with the easiest revisions (changing names, removing a minor character, adding world-building details, etc.) and then I move onto the harder ones (refining character motivations, re-writing whole chapters, etc.). As of now, I'm still working on some of the more minor problems but I'm segueing into the larger issues, which hurts my brain a little but in a good way.

Anyway, there you have it! My revision ritual! If you feel bad for me, please send chocolates and cookies and cute kittens my way. :)

I'm curious too. What are your revisions like? Do you have any rituals? Do tell! 

May 18, 2012

Friday Five

Whew, many apologies for the long delay in blogging! My family arrived back in the States on Tuesday evening, and I have become a jet-lag zombie ever since.

Seriously. I've never had jet lag so badly before! It is an affliction. A sickness. I AM DISEASED!

Ok, not really, but does anyone have any advice for me? How do I fall asleep at a reasonable hour?!

*Eye twitch*

One
Well, the trip to Taiwan was quite fun! My jet lag is due to a good cause, at least! I'm still sorting through my pictures but here are a few from my favorite sites:

{Taroko National Park in northeastern Taiwan}
{Alishan National Park in central Taiwan}

Two
And here's a picture of my brother and me at his wedding festival! He and his new wife Dora wore traditional Taiwanese outfits for the day, which was both awesome and amusing. I mean, check out that hat!

{The hat has wings!}
{My dad can't resist the hat.}

Three
I managed to get some reading done during the trip and during the loooong flight to Taiwan!



Of these three, I have to say that I liked Boy 21 the best. I simply fell in love with this book: with its honest narration, with its grimy urban setting, and with its heartbreaking characters who are all flawed and messy and trying to survive in the inner city.

What did I love most about this book? The realness of the male narrator's voice. You know how some male POVs come across as how we wish teenage boys would sound like? As in, the boy is so clever and mysterious and sensitively romantic? That's rather swoony and all, but sometimes I just want my characters to sound...well...real. And author Matthew Quick accomplishes just that. Finley, the protagonist, acts and thinks and sounds like a real seventeen year-old. You know, he thinks about sex and about his family. He thinks about basketball and how to get out of his town.

Finley is simply real. And I loved that.

Four
On the writing front, I'm currently working on a revision for Awesome Agent Jim! His notes are spot-on and I'm excited to make my manuscript stronger (this is my YA alternate history), although I am a bit overwhelmed whenever I stare at the email that Jim sent me.

Like, where do I start? Eep!

Hopefully, I can make some good headway this weekend. I just have to crack open Microsoft Word and force myself to revise, right?

RIGHT!

Five
Well, you're probably jealous of my weekend plans, aren't you? HA! Anyway, since I've been away for so long, what's up with you? What's new? Whatcha reading? Whatcha doing this weekend? More importantly, do you want to hang out when I start tearing out my hair over revisions?

I'm good company. Promise!

Oh, FINE. I'll buy you a brownie. Now can we hang out? Or are you gonna make me order you a drink too?

:)

May 4, 2012

Friday Five: Taiwan Edition!

I have returned to the motherland!

Also known as...Taiwan!

After a 16-hour flight and a layover in Tokyo, my family arrived in Taipei on Wednesday evening. We spent the last two days in the capital city---where I saw a lot of stray dogs and cats and even a rat! Ew!---and now we're in a town called Miaoli, where my brother and sister-in-law currently live.

Anyway, I'm in that strange limbo of jet lag in which I'm kind of tired but also kind of wide awake. So I have decided to blog!

One

{Why hello!}

Here I am with my Uncle Bing!

Ok, not really....

This is just a random bust I saw in Taipei yesterday, whom I decided to nickname Uncle Bing because I couldn't read the accompanying plaque. Basically, I'm kind of illiterate here in Taiwan since I've forgotten most of the characters I learned in Chinese school. Somewhere up in Chinese heaven, my ancestors are shaking their heads at me and sighing. Sorry, ancestors!


Two

{Chiang Kai Shek Memorial}
{Visiting my paternal grandfather's grave, who died in 1973.}

For this trip, I rented a wide-angle lens from BorrowLenses.com since I wanted to try one out and because---yipes!---these lenses cost about $1000 new and $700 used. Ah, photography! Why did I have to choose such an expensive new hobby? Still, I'm sort of in love with this lens! Must save my pennies....


Three

{Taiwanese book cover}

In bookish news, I saw two guys in Taipei today reading the Chinese version of The Hunger Games. I wanted to tap on their shoulders and point enthusiastically at their books and say, "This is SUCH a good book! I approve!"

Don't worry. I refrained from doing such a thing because I'd like to give off the impression that I am a.) normal, and b.) semi sane.

Of course, in reality, I really am a crazy person. At least when it comes to The Hunger Games. :)


Four


Foooood!

My family has been taking full advantage of the exchange rate here in Taiwan. Just yesterday for a five-person lunch, we only paid $15 for a table full of noodles and appetizers! I might weigh 500 pounds once I get home. What a fun surprise for Justin!

Oh! My sister and I were at dinner tonight (at a Lord of the Rings themed restaurant of all places!) and I spotted a hilarious English misspelling. Ready for it?

Pesto Pasta with Vaggies

Hahaha. I know, I know. So gross, right? I couldn't stop giggling and gagging at the same time. Suffice to stay, I didn't order that dish.


Five

Aaaaand on the writing front, I've been able to crank out some words on my new WIP! Very surprisingly! That's another fun side effect of my jet lag, I suppose. I go to bed at strange hours and awake at even stranger ones. Hopefully, fingers crossed, I'll write a few chapters while I'm here so I can send them off to a few readers.

So, how are you doing? What are you up to this weekend? And what are you reading? Your recommendations are always welcome!