summer days

Last summer was a long stretch of heat, burning through the days in a glare of endless sunshine. This year, the days are greyer and softer–a lazy passage of time, often humid with rainshowers. It’s hard to believe we’re still in the midst of a drought, when the sky is horizon-to-horizon with clouds.

For past week and the next several weeks, John has been/ will be scheduled frequent long weekends, which is nice–little mini-vacations, almost. We popped down to Portland on a whim this last weekend and wandered around the city, window-shopping and catching pokemon, before eating at an insanely delicious Greek food truck and heading back home. The next day, we took the dogs out to Soap Lake in Eastern Washington.

About once a month, we have a family game night with the in-laws. I was hoping we’d be able to do it more often in the summer, but somehow work schedule hadn’t lined up that way until recently–hopefully we’ll get a few more game nights over the rest of July and into August, although there is camp and our motorcycle trip in August.

Usually, we play Catan, but recently we picked up a copy of Munchkin, as well as the card game Gloom (based on recommendations from Tabletop). I do feel kinda bad, because I think my niblings are a little bored while the adults are engaged with our board games (based on the question my niece asked me: “Why do you always bring board games when you come over?”).

I think I have a solution, though–when I was a kid, mom had an activity bag to entertain us during sacrament meeting, and it was actually pretty effective. Also, the toys at our sitters house–despite being pretty objectively ho-hum–were freakin’ amazing to me, as a kid.  Why? Because they weren’t regular-time toys. Mom wouldn’t let us touch the church activity bag anywhere except church, and the toys at the sitter’s house were only available at the sitter’s house. So I have this little doll suitcase/ trunk, and I’m going to start packing it with a rotating surprise selection of toys and activities for my niblings. Hopefully it’ll keep them occupied and happy until they’re old enough to play the big people games with us.

Kidling is old enough now that he’s asking me to drop him off with his friends, which is both cool and heartbreaking. Also weird, to ferry him around town and drop him off at the places I used to go, to do the things I used to do. Skateland, Lakefair, Library events–ha, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I am trying to work on my book on the days John is working. It’s difficult to focus. It took a few months to get the drafts/ feedback back from my readers, and in that time I had a lot of ideas on how/ where I wanted it to go.

I feel like my biggest problem at the moment is that I wrote it on a computer, honestly, without an outline. It feels unwieldy. From now on, all books I write will have outlines. My next four are already outlined by hand, in notebooks.

So I finished the whole thing, and it’s a book. It has a plot, with a beginning, middle, and an end … but I hated the end. So I rewrote it. Then I cut the wordcount down from insanity to manageable, and chopped the first three chapters of backstory. Sent the resulting draft to my reader volunteers. Specifically, I asked for feedback on:

  • Readability
  • Character development/ growth and relatability
  • Subplots (too distracting? Barely noticeable?)
  • Worldbuilding (too much foreignness? infodump problems?)
  • Overarching plot (hints too obvious? too subtle?)
  • Overall impression?

Each reader called/ messaged about a week after receiving their draft and said they’d finished it and really loved it, found it very engaging, and now they were going to re-read it and notate it fully and send me back a notated copy. About three to four months later was when I began getting more specific feedback, most of which aligned with my own concerns/ issues. Primarily, I didn’t like the beginning (I’ve since rewritten it). It felt choppy and info-dumpy, and I just … I was really dissatisfied with it.

There was also an incident that happens about 1/3 of the way in and then isn’t addressed again, and I felt like I’d kind of brushed off the significance of it, initially–that it was just hanging there unresolved and weird, and it needed to be either addressed or completely removed. None of my readers mentioned it, but when I asked what they thought of the incident, they did all say, “Oh, yeah–that was weird … why did they just ignore that?”

And, universally, everyone hates the title–which is fine, because it’s a working title. I’ve given up trying to explain that titles are nearly always decided by the agent and/or publishing company, and the shit title on my draft is just a placeholder. I think next time I’ll just call it Working Title, or Placeholder, or Shit Title.

So now I’m engaged in yet another round of edits, and it feels just endless. Like swimming through jell-o, honestly–but I have a vision in mind, a set end point. I know what the final book is supposed to look like. I know where these characters are going. I know the plot, the world, the story arc. It’s just frustrating, because it’s a lot of rewriting–which isn’t as fun as writing–and I feel like I’m re-treading ground I’ve already walked when I’d hoped to be moving onto the next phase by now.

Also, my work schedule is the same as John’s work schedule–he’s at work, I’m writing. He’s at home, I’m not writing. On one hand, this is great (excellent family time!). On the other hand, summer scheduling is super uneven and apparently ADHD brains work best on consistency, haha. I keep joking about renting a hotel for a week straight and unplugging all the phones so I can blast through these edits. The only concern is that I forget to eat when I’m writing.