First the good news. Today (well, yesterday when you read this), in a sleep-blurred haze, I turned in Death by Cliché 3. So that’s done. The last draft had a bit of a rocky edit, and it’s because of a joke I made in the chapter quotes.
You see in one of the chapters I needed a quote and so I had the narrator mention that he’d cut a superfluous chapter, and that should make it easier for me to hit the total number of chapters in the outline, which was 70. (This will almost certainly not be the same number of chapters when it releases). Then, as a joke, I have you hit Chapter 69, then 69.1, then 69.1.1, then 126.96.36.199, etc, until I get to the end of the climax and I move on to 70. A little meta joke. I didn’t think much of it.
Well both my beta readers came back confused. The ending made no sense. Major plot points were missing. They thought character were dead who walked around, interacting with people at the end. I just couldn’t figure it out. The setup at the end is tricky because the main characters never completely figure out what is happening in the novel, so there’s a lot on the reader to keep straight. I can’t just have a character think about how it’s all working to remind them. Still, it seemed to be more than tricky. It seemed to be a train wreck.
Then I got to chapter 69 in their notes.
I keep all my chapters in separate word files until I combine them for submission. With chapter 69, however, I put them all together because I was afraid the numbering would make it hard to keep track of the read-order when you had them up on a computer screen. Then I noticed that no one had any notes after chapter 69 itself. They’d just arrived at that first pagebreak and stopped. They hadn’t paged down and discovered 69.1, not to mention all the rest. So no wonder they were confused. They missed ALL of the resolution and most of the action of the climax.
I got a good new scene out of it trying to re-explain the theme, though, so it wasn’t a total waste of mind-numbing panic.
On top of that, throughout all of the last two weeks, I’ve had pneumonia. This isn’t terribly new, I’m a bit prone to it. It runs in my family: my father got pneumonia once a year. I used to get pneumonia after every con. Literally, 100% of the time. Then I learned that if I took an extra day off afterward, I stopped getting pneumonia. I still get con crud once in a while, but even that’s rare, and when it comes, it rarely turns into pneumonia anymore.
Not after FanX. FanX put me down hard. It wasn’t until the pnuemonia had me operating at about 40 lost IQ points that I finally realized what was going on.
See, the weeks before FanX I’d been in full work mode. I’d promised Wymore a critique and I had to turn in DbC3. I did my standard “crunch mode” 100-120 hour weeks. With five hours sleep a night. I pushed and pushed and pushed. It wasn’t until I got sick that I realized the whole point in the extra day of rest was so that I didn’t have to fight off convention sicknesses with a compromised immune system. Driving myself to the point of exhaustion before the con is a great way to get really, really sick.
So now I have a new rule. Not only do I take an extra day off after the con, but I have to go into the con well-rested. If I’m in crunch mode before the con, I probably need to suspend it at least a few days before the con itself. Because I like many things in this world.
Breathing is in the top five.
With DbC 3 turned in and myself recovered, I’ll enter a bit more of a relaxed time. I’ll play a couple games, then get into a full edit of DbC 4. Probably when I finish Mass Effect: Andromeda. In the meantime, I’ll probably work on my novel Kill dash Nine, but at a relaxed rate, maybe a chapter every couple days.
Well, that’s all. TTFN.
The next installment awaits...Slouching Towards Amazon: LTUE Post Mortem