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Sara Cottingham- Author

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  • Sara Cottingham
  • September 29, 2017 03:54:11 PM
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Author Sara Cottingham's official site featuring a weekly blog and links to previously published content.

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My final(ish) draft should be done this week!

First off, sorry this is a lot later than normal. I got to work late today, and this got pushed further down the list of things to do. But, I do have a reason for it: my (ideally) final draft should be done this week! I’m so excited, and it’s been a rush trying to...

First off, sorry this is a lot later than normal. I got to work late today, and this got pushed further down the list of things to do.

But, I do have a reason for it: my (ideally) final draft should be done this week!

I’m so excited, and it’s been a rush trying to get it done. I’d realized while doing some research on publishing stats that it wasn’t long enough, so I’ve had to add a ton of content beyond what I initially had. I was worried for a time that I wouldn’t have enough ideas to make it to the suggested word count, but I’m pleased to say that my characters gave me some really good material to work with.

I use Scrivener to write, which I love, but I plan on putting it through a more thorough grammar/spelling/content check before I start sending it out to first readers.

That said, I’m not too nervous about sending it out. Yes, I know they’ll find things I missed, and I’ll no doubt have plot holes and details to tweak, but overall I feel like it’s in a really good place.

My next step will be trying to find a good list of questions to give my first readers when I send them the draft. I’ve found a couple different lists, but I find they are not completely comprehensive. I might just combine the lists I’ve found into one master list.

I’ve only gone a little crazy getting this far. My sleep schedule is ruined, and I should really take a vow to not eat popcorn for every meal.

Does it feel like the house is in a particularly profound state of dusty disarray? A little, but the animals are happy and healthy, so I’ll take it as a win overall. And let’s be honest, my house is only ever clean for a few hours before and after people come over.

So, I will take my accomplishment, push through to the end, and probably take a long deserved rest next week!

 


I have never felt this good about my book.

Since I last posted I’ve been working my tush off. I’m averaging about 3,000 words a day, and it all feels like decent work. There are some spots that I’ll need to go back at look at, but overall it feels great. It feels like a solid book, and that feeling is intoxicating as it...

Since I last posted I’ve been working my tush off. I’m averaging about 3,000 words a day, and it all feels like decent work. There are some spots that I’ll need to go back at look at, but overall it feels great.

It feels like a solid book, and that feeling is intoxicating as it gets closer to the end of this draft. This won’t be the final draft, but it will be one of my last.

Maybe it’s because I don’t have the usual responsibilities later in the day, but the freedom of being able to work late into the night is such a gift. Even if I reach my goal word count I can always go back and edit or add more as I want.

I will say that I can tend to go a bit overboard. When I was in middle school and just writing for fun I would often wake up with my notebook in my bed. I find that is happening more and more while I work on this draft.

 

I have had to change my ending, which I knew would happen, but I have found that marking out the plot points beforehand has helped in writing the end.

I was working on a plot point yesterday that I had plotted out, and as I was finishing up the scene I thought, “hmm, well that’s how I get to the end.”

If this seems weird, I hardly ever do an outline for my books because I tend to let them lead me to wherever they want to go, but I may start doing more serious outlines as the book becomes more concrete. It has helped with the stress of trying to remember what I needed to work on next.

It wasn’t anything monumental in terms of how the ending changed, but it simply solidified the setting for where my main character ends up. That said, with the ending secure the book feels more and more solid. I’m not going to print this copy just yet, but when I do I know I’ll be holding the complete story in my hands. I can’t wait.

The one shocker that I faced this week is pricing when it comes to getting my manuscript ready for editing. I was thinking about having an editor look through it, but when I looked at the average cost of an editor I realized that it wasn’t at all feasible. It was around $8,000 for an 80,000-word manuscript. Now, if I had the money I’d 100% do something like that, but I’m hella broke, so now I just need to find some people that I trust to be my test readers.

Only after I get their feedback will I start looking for an agent. That process is further off than I had initially thought, but I’d rather not rush the editing. If I get rejected because the book has flaws I’ll have no one to blame but myself.

For now, I’m still super motivated, and I’m hoping to carry this momentum through to the end of the book.

Have any of you ever solicited for an agent? Share your experience/tips below!


Remembering to write for joy.

Here’s the thing: I’m alone. The hubby is gone on a business trip, and while that means I’ve been doing a lot more Netflix marathons than is probably healthy, it also means I’ve been doing a lot of writing. And I’m remembering what it is like to write for the fun of it. I mentioned...

Here’s the thing: I’m alone. The hubby is gone on a business trip, and while that means I’ve been doing a lot more Netflix marathons than is probably healthy, it also means I’ve been doing a lot of writing. And I’m remembering what it is like to write for the fun of it.

I mentioned right after I got done with my MFA I felt burnt out on writing. Any time I sat down to try and write I was just stressed because I’d become so used to writing on a crazy deadline.

I don’t know what has changed with my mood, my brain, or whatever, but I’ve been averaging about 2,500 words a day. The story has just taken on a life of its own, and I’m just there writing it all down. I feel like the secretary taking notes in an important business meeting. It’s a wonderful feeling. I’m not stressed when I sit down to write. Even managing the 2,500 words a day, when I get finished with that goal I know I could keep writing more. I’m not exhausted by the end, and it isn’t taking me an insane amount of time to get to that word count. It seems like it happens within three hours. All. New. Content.

I don’t think I’ve reached this level of writing frenzy in a while. In fact, I know I haven’t. For so long it’s felt like a struggle, and I kept doing it because I knew I loved it, but now it feels joyous to be writing again. I just hope I can keep it going.

My goal is to double my word count for my novel within a month, and I really think I can do it. I also think I can write more than the 2,500 words I have been managing each day. I want to try for 3,000 in the next several days and see what that feels like.

Has anyone else hit this point where the story just seems to be writing itself? It’s exhilarating and intoxicating.

I think my writing is being fed by the amount of reading I’ve been doing. I’ve found that if I read in the morning, write in the afternoon, and then read more at night I just have no issue when I sit down to the computer.

Side note: the current book I’m reading is The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It is nothing like what I’m writing, but the language is wonderful and I will be reading more from him in the future.

The only way I know how to describe this feeling is how I used to feel when I wrote when I was in middle school. I wrote because the story that I wanted to read hadn’t been written yet. I wrote because I just loved the feeling of seeing something come to life in front of me. And that it was something I had helped create.

I know I posted an update about Neon Girlfriend in ages, but that break has truly done me wonders. Maybe I’m riding a bit of a writer’s high, but I’m loving it. I love knowing that when I sit down to work it won’t be like pulling teeth. At this pace, I’m sure I’ll have an update for you in two weeks, and I might even release an excerpt!

Like below if you’ve had this same motivation, or if you want an excerpt from my novel with the next post!

 


Cruzin’ into the second half of the book!

I’ve been gone for a while now, and boy was it helpful. I have been able to focus solely on my manuscript, and the stress of not having to worry about a blog post every week is really nice. I’ve spent a ton of time on my first chapter. It was the one that felt...

I’ve been gone for a while now, and boy was it helpful. I have been able to focus solely on my manuscript, and the stress of not having to worry about a blog post every week is really nice.

I’ve spent a ton of time on my first chapter. It was the one that felt the weakest. There was hardly anything there that felt worthwhile, and now it feels great. Well, compared to what it was before. I added quite a few pages that helped flush out who my main character is at the beginning of the book, and I realized that I needed to flip a certain scenario to give the story more weight later on.

The next couple chapters haven’t changed as much from the previous draft, but I will be adding in little hints of foreshadowing here and there to make the ending more dynamic.

It is going slowly right now, but I’m hoping that each time I finish a draft I pick up more speed as the editing process becomes easier and easier. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that’s the case.

I might even release a sneak peek at part of the first chapter, if enough people are interested 😉

Have a happy Wednesday!


Posting dates & blog updates

I need your opinion. I’ve been struggling with making content each week that I feel truly revolves around writing, and I was wondering what people would think if I dialed the blog posts to once every other week. I also want to put the majority of my energy into the revision of my manuscript, and...

I need your opinion. I’ve been struggling with making content each week that I feel truly revolves around writing, and I was wondering what people would think if I dialed the blog posts to once every other week.

I also want to put the majority of my energy into the revision of my manuscript, and I feel like I only throw something up every week simply because that is my schedule. Not because I have something important to say at the time.

I’d rather post less frequently right now and have each post be interesting to read instead of what it feels like right now. That is simply my impression.

Leave a comment below on how you feel, or if you have a topic you’d like me to post on. I’ll try to take different opinions into consideration.

Also, I’m reading Shadow Child by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto (who was one of my fabulous teachers during my MFA), and the book is simply astounding. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants something well written, who loves history and demands multi-dimensional characters.

If you read it, I’d love to hear your opinion on it!!!


Writing to feel the rain

I’ve completely finished the edits on my first draft! Let me tell you, it was an ugly mess. I mentioned in a previous post that I thought the beginning was going to be the easier part (it was not), and I found the further I got into the story the better it became. My husband...

I’ve completely finished the edits on my first draft!

Let me tell you, it was an ugly mess. I mentioned in a previous post that I thought the beginning was going to be the easier part (it was not), and I found the further I got into the story the better it became.

My husband said that “of course” that made sense. He said the further along I got the more came to understand what was going on and how the piece worked as a whole. It just goes to show you that every day is a learning experience. Even from people who don’t think they know anything about writing.

I am happy with the middle part of Neon Girlfriend considering that it’s still the first draft. I knew the ending I wrote was going to change, so I honestly left the last several pages unmarked because I plan on throwing them out anyhow.

Between the notes I made on the physical draft, the notecards I wrote out that contain the larger issues I need to deal with, and the fact that the ending needs to be redone, I think I’m in a decent spot. It may be stupidity thinking that amount of work is a good start, but my stubbornness and blind ambition are going to get me somewhere with this manuscript.

As I’ve been editing my own work I’ve been doing a lot of reading on editing. I find that reading about editing helps me be more aware of when I make mistakes in my own writing.

Case and point, I tended to use a lot of exposition in this first draft simply because I was trying to get the base down without losing momentum. I spend too much time describing things that I can show in scenes. That will be a brunt of the second drafts edits.

Still, I know that’s how I write. Or at least how I wrote this draft, so I’m not too worried.

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I was reading Stein on Writing by Sol Stein, and he said

something that really struck me as monumental. He mentions hearing E. L. Doctorow once say, “‘Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader, not the fact that it’s raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.'”

It really resonated with me that for the first draft I’d been focused on telling the reader that it’s raining, and I think that’s fine for a first draft so that I could focus on laying out the necessary character motivations and plot points, but now, now I get to go back through and show the reader what it’s really like to breathe and move alongside my characters. I really cannot wait.

Are there any quotes that help your writing/editing process. If so, comment them below! I’d love to hear them!

Featured Image: Photo by Robb Leahy on Unsplash

 

 


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