A Week as a Full-Time Writer
As ever, I remain committed to documenting my writing journey with you, and it’s been quite the week. I’m at the tail end of an entire week off of work. I took the week to focus on editing my channillo.com series Amache’s America into novel format. It’s been a lot of “how do I do this?” followed by, “oh my goodness, this is really working!” followed by, “I should start watching Friday Night Lights (finally) and get addicted so that I have something to distract me from the utter disaster that is writing a book.” Ultimately though, I have made some very good progress and I’m really pleased with how far this week has taken me.
So, what does it mean to change my channillo.com series to a novel? Well, as many of you know, channillo.com is a serial fiction website. Writers on the platform post small segments of work on a daily, weekly, monthly basis (or whatever frequency suits them). The work varies from poems to journal entries to short stories, to my style -- writing a chapter a week of a longer format piece.
The style of writing a chapter a week is very different than writing a contiguous story. A chapter a week allows for much more jumping around, from character to character to whole leaps in plot points. It also requires for there to be a good ‘hook’ at the end of each chapter to keep people coming back. This ‘hook’ is much more dramatic than the hook from chapter to chapter in a novel.
The platform itself promotes shorter chapters as well. If my chapter goes too long, it’s cut into segments, which isn’t ideal from a reader experience, so I have to keep things short. This doesn’t allow for paragraphs to always breathe the way I’d like them too.
Most importantly, a chapter a week over 18 months (which is how long I took to write Amache’s America until I thought the story had been told) leads to some serious story scope change, tone change, and some fuzzy consistency issues, some of which are small and some of which are glaring when you stop to read it from start to finish.
So, if I want to get it published in novel format, I need to clean it up. I need it to read smoothly, and have a coherent plot structure, and make the tone stays the same throughout. And, at about 50,000 words all told on the website, I need to add about 30,000 words to it to get it to a good novel length.
So, this week I’ve been diving in. Reading and re-reading it. Figuring out where the story needs to grow. Adding in new characters to round out the story arcs. Figuring out what can stay and what needs to get cut. Adding in some more exposition. Taking out serialized fiction tactics. Figuring out who my characters are in this new format. And trying to think of a new title for the novel version, because it really is a new thing. Titles are tricky and I want to get the new title right. It’s like taking a giant puzzle, shaking it like a etch-a-sketch, and then putting it back together again. It will resemble what came before it, but it won’t be the same.
Truth be told, I had a fantasy that by the end of the week I’d be done. That somehow if I sat down and focused for a week straight I’d have an entire series edited, reformatted, and 30,000 words added. I love that I thought this. I love that I really went for it. But, seeing as it’s Friday morning and I’ve got quite a lot left I want to do, I know that’s not quite realistic. BUT. BUT. I’m on the road now. I know specifically what I have to do, which is not something I could say when I started. So, after this week I think I’ll be just fine going back to evenings and weekends and early mornings.
And, because there’s no rest for the wicked, this isn’t the only project I’ve been working on this week. I launched my new channillo.com series, The IT Girl on Tuesday (new chapter every Tuesday!) and I’ve finally found someone to help me market The Cube a little more aggressively, so I’ve been pulling together materials for that and I’m excited to keep promoting that book too.
All in all, this week has given me a glimpse of what my life would be like if I was a full-time, work-from-home writer. Probably more so than when I took time off to work on The Cube. Because now I have multiple projects in various stages and I am not completely debilitated by the “what ifs” of it all. Honestly, this week writing has really seemed like a job and not the same passion project, leap of faith, it did back in 2016 when The Cube was still a pipe dream. Now, I know what I have to do and I’m doing it. (If only writers could get paid for being writers. That’s the next pipe dream to tackle).
As for the job of being a full-time writer -- I think I’d be good at it. But, this week has also reminded me about how lonely writing can be. About what it feels like to mill around my apartment when my brain just can’t write anymore. And that makes me miss my job. A lot.
Can I just stop to express how grateful I am that I was able to take this week off of work to write? Right now, it seems like I have the best of both worlds. I have a job that I really like, that challenges me, and that keeps me stable, and the flexibility to continue to pursue my writing and have this second job of being an author. I’m really lucky. In more ways I can ever express.
So, stay tuned for the novel format of Amache’s America - title TBD. Continue to support The Cube by posting on social media with the hashtag #TheCubeNovel and, of course, buying it. And, check out my new series, The IT Girl on channillo.com.
Thanks for following along on this journey. I appreciate you!