Editing… Editing… Editing… Free flow writing…

I have spent the last few months editing. Reading over my first novel. Going back and checking for specific issues. In the middle of checking for specific issues I am currently searching the document for hot words that may need replacing. Make no mistake about it; this is not the exciting aspect of writing. It’s difficult and at times can be a struggle. Or at least, a struggle when compared to the thrill of free flow writing and getting that climatic scene perfect.

It’s only logical that I have found myself adding scenes to my sequel. I started writing the sequel when one of my early rounds of editing had me yearning for a clean document with an open page and free flowing fingers typing up a storm. I stopped because the sequel became complicated and no longer a fun side step to the editing.

In the past few months I have finished the sequel. And I duel with myself, forcing myself not to edit it. Not to get wrapped into two edits at once. I also don’t want to polish it off. At the end of the day it’s a sequel, and until my first novel is published there could be changes that come into play. Those changes could have a ripple effect on the sequel, which would spell trouble for a polished piece of work.

Between the two works I have my characters stuck in my head. They have more stories to tell. Each are being little divas and demanding more screen time. Thinking about the ending of my sequel I realized a whole section I had missed. And even though I am way over word count already I’m back to writing. Planning these in-between scenes, fleshing out the plot. Having way too much fun with imaginary characters.

And slowly the editing inches along. The initial fire is gone. Miles and miles to go and I’m off playing with the new toy, ignoring the old. I will get there. I just might have the sequel set in quite a bit of stone by the time I do.

Why the Right Side Must Go

The right side of my body seems to have a case against me. I don’t know what I did to deserve this. As far as I can tell I have not continuously favored, say, my left foot over my right. But nonetheless my right side feels less than worthy. So much so that it has begun sprouting medical conditions and dragging “lefty” along to numerous doctor appointments of growing specialties.

To date “righty” has procured five separate reasons why I must pay attention to this side of my body. “Lefty” has zero. According to the rules of most games “righty” wins in a landslide of five to zero. But this isn’t a game; this is my life. And the lengths that “righty” will go to is getting serious.

In the beginning it was simple. I was born with a hearing loss in both my ears, discovered at age five. Not much of a problem there, I adjusted well and have grown to be quite fond of my ears. Though one ear had to be better than the other, symmetry is not in my physiological vocabulary. Thus “lefty” started off a mere ten decibels ahead of “righty” in the normal speech ranges. Dog ranges, however, “righty” was queen. Until the ingenious idea was sprouted to operate on me, then eight, to improve hearing. Quite the opposite happened and now those dog high tones only appear in my head, though it did take several blows to the head to get to this point. Not to worry, “lefty” survived all casualties.

The next one is really simple; most people go through this at some point in their lifetime. Mine was at age sixteen when I realized that the chalkboard wasn’t getting any closer. So on top of my hearing aids I now needed glasses. But wait! There’s good news! It’s “lefty’s” turn to be unskilled at some endeavor. Alas no such luck, seeing as it is “righty” who controls what the left eye sees. Now we are up to “righty” two, “lefty” still zero.

By now “righty” was getting pretty upset by this whole uneven dilemma. Since there was no way to cure the hearing or the sight on it’s own there was only one logical conclusion left. Make more. That’s right; if you can’t match the good side, at least have a startling contrast to boast. And what better way than to take a tiny little cyst and rupture it? Well now “righty” had my attention, as well as the doctors in the E.R. who had to operate to fix “righty’s” little temper tantrum.

Three to zero, a fine score if one isn’t splitting their body down the middle to obtain such a number. I remember hoping that the cyst was on the left side, anything to even me out. Nope, no equilibrium meant for me. And yet, it gets worse.

On top of all the little ways “righty” has determined to shine, she had one secret project stashed away as long as the ear: the kidney. Playing around at a very early stage she squeezed two section of the urethra partially closed and watched with glee as the kidney grew and struggled to thrive. For nineteen years she planted her little seed, it took one infection, my second trip to the E.R., to bring her game to light. Now I was feeling the weight of the unbalance.

Many tests, and a major operation later, my right kidney is no longer blocked. However she is only functioning at 30%, meanwhile “lefty” has picked up the slack. “Righty” didn’t go down without a fight, she kept the doctor’s in the dark as to what the real damage was to the kidney, playing so many games along the way that I was begging the doctor to remove the kidney. Alas I still have two.

After the kidney debacle I thought the playing field would be level. The score was set “righty” four, “lefty” zero. But “righty” wasn’t quite done. Not yet. In an act of pure clumsy foolishness I opened a door on my foot. My right foot. And created a hairline fracture between my toes. “Righty” is up to five.

Now there is a very strong possibility that I am insane and that the right side of me really isn’t out to get me. Yet I am a little concerned. “Righty” had done far too much damage with her kidney toy. And she’s proven with the toes that she’s not done. There are only so many other organs I have, and some I would prefer to keep in the quantity of two. Perhaps I need to start talking to “lefty”, the healthy side, and have her beat a thing or two into “righty”. Yes, that is exactly what I’ll do. Hopefully there won’t be too many bruises on the wrong side in the morning.

Writing in a bubble

My main advice on writing in a bubble: don’t. For ten years I wrote in my own little isolated world (save harassing my wonderful husband with plot details). Too shy to reach out to other authors, too clueless to know how. I wrote. It made me happy. Editing and knowing what the industry needs was a huge question mark.

I barely read. Partly because the last few books I had picked up left me less then satisfied. Partly because I didn’t want to unknowingly steal something from another writer. The latter had a benefit: it enabled me to develop my own voice. It’s mine, for better or worse. Ten years in the making, not faltered by my recent nosedive into reading again. And I kinda like it.

There is only so much one can do on their own island. I am now taking my first book, that I am so ready to be done, and editing again and again. And again. Each time the novel becomes stronger. Tighter. Better. Making me wish I had this advice years earlier.

As I mentioned above I also have been reading again. I am on my third book in a week. I have missed curling up with a good book. And it’s research. How did this author handle scene introductions? How is the suspense built? How did they get away with so many adverbs?

Make no mistake about it: writing is a process. It is as rewarding as it is frustrating. Write. Enjoy. Revel in your own creativity. And reach out to others sooner rather then later.

Hearing Loss

A big part of who I am involves my own hearing loss. I was born hard of hearing, though I was five years old before it was discovered. At that age I was given hearing aids and sent along my merry way. I never fully identified with the term “hearing impaired” or “handicapped”. I felt normal. Different, yes. But ultimately normal.

In college I took an American Sign Language (ASL) course. This class changed my life. I found myself at home with sign language and the Deaf Community. A part of myself that I never knew was empty had become filled. 

There is a lot I can write about hearing loss, so I will filter in through in different posts. As a writer I aim to have at least one character with a hearing loss in each of my books. The reasons are quite simple. Firstly it’s a part of who I am, so why not write about what I know? Secondly it’s to spread awareness. Many people think they understand hearing loss. In reality they don’t. For most people it’s a concept. A familiar one so little thought is done beyond the surface. Yet it baffles me what people think as truth. Case in point: I wear two hearing aids. They don’t correct my hearing; they amplify the sound. They are not glasses. They don’t give me 20-20 hearing. They make sounds louder. All sounds: the person speaking, the background noise, the humming of the refrigerator. And not always clearer.

My first novel is set in a high school. I have a strong supporting character who is a teacher of the deaf, and happens to be a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults). In her class are six Deaf students, three of whom have some screen time. The other three unfortunately met a round of cuts and are shivering in a cage somewhere on my computer. Once I’m published I will need to clean up those sections and share it on here.

In the future I plan to have a book where a main character has a hearing loss. I haven’t found the right story yet. In fact I’m struggling to find an appropriate role for hearing loss in a fantasy novel. Should the character be human, dwarf, elf, or pixie? Big role or small one? Leave me a comment with your ideas!