Winter Break

Fall Semester is officially over. Of the three classes I kept (Survey of Art, Creative Writing: Non Fiction and Anthropology: Peoples of the World) I managed to pass them all (and pass them well). That leaves me with an awkward, job-less lull between now and Spring Semester. I’ve done my fair share of video games (Final Fantasy XV, I Am Setsuna and now playing ARK like a madwoman), did my first Arts and Crafts show for my business Distracted Dragon and have stayed, generally, quite busy. Toward the end of the Fall Semester when I received my final grades, I also received an encouraging note from my favorite English Teacher, hidden in one of my essays:

Thank you, Mr. Frey, for pushing me forward.

I decided to take a stab at revision. I say try because nothing I ever start is really guaranteed to finish. This entire blog is more of a record of all the many, many, many projects I’ve started in my life and gave up on. Did you know I once considered using my tax return money to buy ISBNs because I thought, seriously, about self-publishing? About becoming a small press publisher and trying to take on other projects? You can laugh at that, I still do. Bitterly. I’m still trying to convince myself that a business license was the best way to go for something that is slightly more than a hobby. Anyways, that’s another topic for a different blog.

Back to revision.

A friend let me borrow some material for revision. Because I didn’t pay for it (yet), I can’t really mention the exact name or risk getting myself into trouble. I have the materials, and the first step was to read through my manuscript. I chose a smaller, older project that I didn’t hate: Earth Borne. I took a few days and read each chapter aloud, making notes of where I found problems. I sent my manuscript out to a couple friends and have gotten some feedback, not much. I’m not sure what to expect. I know my work isn’t perfect, but I’m awful at the revision process. Do you see how that word is spelled? Revision? To “re-see” something, to look at it again and find the problems and fix them? My brain struggles with that: I don’t see perfection, but I see something that is hard to move, static, set in place even if it is crooked.

So I have notes about my manuscript – places where I have noticed issues. Most of them are minor, with some big problems towards the middle and end. Ok, I can do this. The next step in the revision process was to go back through and look for connections that I may have missed. Between characters or events, to make something connect there that was maybe supposed to (according to your subconscious mind) that you didn’t realize, or that should connect now to make the story more compelling.

For me, that’s pretty damn abstract. I know you can’t troubleshoot an individual plot based on a formula, I get that, it’s like treating everything with Amoxicillin (or Windex, like that movie). I realize there cannot be a “sure fire” way to fix any story problems, but this “find connections and make them” business is driving me mad.

But I have tried, and I’ve taken notes, and I want to share them with you and the revision journey as a whole. My goal is to have a good, strong idea for a revised version of Earth Borne before Spring Semester starts in January. Why? You know me: once school starts, I won’t focus on writing unless it is school-related. My current Spring Semester workload looks like this:

History 101, Death and Dying, Introduction to Astronomy, Math 025 and a member of the Trestle Creek Review (North Idaho College’s Literary Magazine that I was published in earlier this year!). It’s 15 credits, full time, with some hard classes. So I know myself well enough to know I’m going to spend the next five months freaking the fuck out over classes.

If you’re interested in my revision notes, I’m including them in the next blog (for those of you who don’t care about revision and just want to read finished stories, I get that). I like to preserve things like these for my own records, to show the “behind the scenes” work that goes into all writing, and because typing out my handwritten notes helps me remember.

You can read Chapter 1 of Earth Borne here:

http://michellebrumley.com/short-stories/earth-borne-chapter-1/

It’s been snowing and I have basically been house-bound since. Mason’s driving my car to work, and I don’t want to drive his truck around town. So my travels have been restricted to where I can, and am willing to, walk in the snow and slush. Today I walked to my local mail store, dropped off a package and picked up one—sent out buttons, got mylar rings in for new coasters and 2.25” buttons. Business stuff. When I got back home, my boots were soaked, muddy and my socks were damp. My button customer gave me a $10 tip, and that made my day, made me forget about my wet socks.

I tried to sit down and work on revision, got a few notes down and decided I’d rather write a blog instead. I checked my final grades for the Fall Semester:

Now, this is easy to obtain if:

  1. You’re a part time student and
  2. You have no "real" job*.
  3. Your classes, and teachers, are kind of awesome.

Yes, I am gloating. Yes, I am proud of myself. It’s been a long Semester, and this is logically the last one that I will get A’s in all my classes because, as they say, shit is about to get real. Look at my schedule for Spring. Look at it. Read back through my blogs where I mention crying over my Geography class. No, don’t, that’s just depressing (but I did write about it!). I’m going to be busier than I’ve ever been starting in January, so I wanted one last chance to share my good grades before they become… worse. I’ll do my best, and I’m sure I’ll remember to blog at some point when I’m not paralyzed with College Workload Fear. I have all the respect in the world for you college kids (and college-adults) and your ability to focus and deal with life and still manage to get good grades. Hell, I’m even proud of the ones that get C’s and D’s and F’s because you’re trying. Yes, I’m hoping I’ll remember that too when I’m that kid.

I'm not sure what the point of this blog was aside from updating you on my life in general, gloating about my College success and bitching about revision being hard.

Last random note: still listening to "Sword-Maker" by Jennifer Roberson.