Betsy Whitt

I read. I write. I think. I live.

Category: Novel Progress (page 1 of 5)

This Post is Full of Lameness

Earlier today I had a brilliant idea for something to write about here.

Naturally, I completely forget what it was.

So, no brilliant discourse for you today. Or even moderately amusing discourse.

Life seems to be rolling along at a rather high speed, so I’m trying to keep up. I’ve been reading more non-fiction than usual lately, but I’ve given up on trying to keep track of all my reading this year, so you’re out of luck if you want me to recall them all. The house has almost entirely recovered from our recent parental visits, with the notable exception (as usual) of the kitchen. It’s still a bit of a disaster.

There are also several potential Things in the hopper, which would be rather big Things if I could talk about them, but they’re in such embryonic stages that it would do all of us a disservice if I started squeeing about them here.

Having let myself revel in Being Done with revisions on my manuscript for a few days (and also visiting with my parents, who flew thousands of miles to see us), I have officially begun moving forward with the next steps, which are updating my short synopsis and writing a query letter that isn’t horrible. The former is in good shape, I think, but the latter is one of my personal weak spots, and I am dreading revisiting it. My last attempt was truly terrible. It made my book sound boring. My book is not boring! It’s exciting! Thus, inherently a bad letter.

Shiloh seems to have made a full recovery from her tummy unpleasantness, and has returned to full cuteness. Lately, she spends her afternoons out on the porch sleeping in the sun and watching the birds on the feeder, and chasing off the braver squirrels who venture near the porch railing. A few neighborhood cats have also seemed to hone in on our porch as a good bird-hunting location, so Shiloh does what she can to save her birdy friends from annihilation. The birds are completely accustomed to her presence and are unconcerned with her proximity. They know she just likes watching them. It’s quite endearing to watch.

That’s all I’ve got. Hope all you masses of people who read my blog are doing well. :)


It Is Finished

My big deadline? The super secret goal? Completed, with 6 hours to spare. It’s amazing what one can get done, amidst distractions, when one has resolved to do it anyway. We’ve had multiple visitors, a sick dog (she’s doing much better now, thanks for asking), car troubles (new clutch, and it’s making a HUGE difference, thanks), all my kids going off to college (no, not my biological kids, but they’re still mine, and they still all left to save the world), and the various other bits of craziness that normally make up life in the Whitt house.

My novel is done. The novel that I finished a long, long time ago, and then pulled apart a big section of because I figured out what was bugging me, and it was a big enough problem to warrant the pulling apart and putting back together. The novel that got rather abandoned because Real Life Took Over And Exploded this year.

That novel.
It’s done.

That was my goal: to finally complete all the revisions needed to make it a whole story again, worth submitting.

There are, of course, always things I *could* keep fiddling with. But I will not. I am backing away slowly, with my hands in plain sight, leaving this manuscript just as it is, because it is finished.

I’m not even going to talk about the next steps until tomorrow, at least. Tonight, I get to enjoy the fact that my manuscript is complete.

Take that, August!


… And it’s Done!

Given the month I’ve had, I was pretty darn sure that I wasn’t going to make this deadline, and I’m not sure I can accurately convey how bummed out that got me.  I’ve worked with this story, loved it, hated it, coaxed it along, finished it, pulled it apart, and put it back together again for almost three years now.  Everything in me has screamed that it was taking too much time, but I’m so excited because I think the extra time has been good in the end.  It’s worth the wait, I pinky swear.

The manuscript is finished.  For reals this time.

And now I get to look at the list of agents I started compiling the first time I finished it, revise it, update it, put together a totally rawkin’ query letter (I shall have to see whether I have one or two hiding in my archives somewhere that I can tweak, because I could swear I put one together for this story before), and begin convincing people of how awesome this novel is.

Happy Monday!


Manuscript Progress and Antidepressant Adventures

Ten days since my last entry isn’t so bad, really.  Not when it’s been caused alternately by furious manuscriptural progress (yeah, I made that word up, and I quite like it, thanks for noticing) and some pharmaceutical adventures, the latter of which I was rather slow to catch onto.

First of all, I’m more than halfway through this manuscript revision, which is significant because close to the first 1/3 was new material that had to be connected and smoothed into the existing text, and now that I’ve passed that juncture I anticipate veritably flying through the remaining work.  In other words, I am optimistic.  But then, I am rarely pessimistic, so we should take my optimism with a shaker’s worth of salt.

As to the pharmaceutical adventures, it’s a rather long, roundabout story, but the short version is that our new medical insurance policy very much prefers not to cover my customary antidepressant (hereafter Drug B), so I switched to another variety that has the same active ingredient (Drug C).  I was assured that very few people have trouble with this change as the two drugs are very similar, and I am so far from being picky about brand or method as long as the darn stuff WORKS that I readily filled the prescription.  Unfortunately, I am part of the “very few people” who do not adjust seamlessly to the new (to me) drug.

For about the last week and a half I have had seriously strange dreams–abnormal ones, for me.  Not scary dreams, just uber weird.  Pretty much every night, three or four a night.  I know this because I wake up between all of them and have trouble getting back to sleep, which leads to a tired Betsy.  I’ve been taking naps most mornings, and have only proceeded from napping to writing (rather than reading or watching “A-Team” episodes on Netflix) about every other day.  Finally, sometime in the nighttime hours no one should ever witness between Thursday and Friday, it dawned on me that there is only one other time something like this has happened to me–and it was almost two years ago, with the very first antidepressant I tried.  This reaction isn’t as severe as the first one, but then I was on Drug A for a month and a half, and Drug C for only two weeks.  Less time to develop strangeness.

At any rate, I called the doctor folks on Friday morning and after numerous call-backs for them to verify lots of angles, I am now gradually shifting to Drug D. If it works, great.  If not, I know that the doctor can jump through some hoops and get Drug B (my antidepressant of choice) approved coverage with the insurance, if it’s the only thing that works for me.  I’m not sure how many others I’ll have to try before they can conclude that I actually do need Drug B.

All in all, I’m not all that upset at present.  I’d much rather not have to jump through hoops (either personally or via my doctor) to get what I need to be healthy.  On the other hand, if they make me try several more medicines before we find one that works, I can see the next two or three or four months basically going down the drain, practically speaking.  As it is, barring severe immediate issues, I have to stay on Drug D until Christmas, more or less, before they’ll consider trying me on something else.  I have not yet run through even all the antidepressants that most people would recognize on hearing because of various advertisements, much less any lesser-known ones.

But I am trying to remain optimistic, because getting pessimistic about depression tends to be a rapid downward spiral and we can certainly do without any of that.

All that to say, another week (probably) of funky dreams before I’ve totally phased out Drug C, and then we’ll see how well Drug D works through my winter depressive slump.

And now back to my regularly scheduled manuscript edits.


Open Letter To My Brain

Dear Brain,

Please stop coming up with more ideas for material from Kerris’s POV. We agreed a long time ago that it was important to balance our time in Kerris’s head with time in Devlin’s head, which means that for every three thousand words you add to Kerris’s story, you must also provide 3k more for Devlin. More to the point, it must be relevant and appropriate to tell at this point in the story. I know Kerris is having a very fun adventure while Devlin is still rather gloomy right now, but you need to move past that and give me some good material. When in doubt, add ninjas! Or pirates! Oh, don’t talk to me about not having ninjas and pirates. We have desert raiders–they’re like pirates, only with camels instead of ships! Work with me, here! Maybe if you could manage to spice up Devlin’s exterior conflict a bit nobody would notice that he’s Mister Gloomy-Pants right now.

Right, now that we have that cleared up, back to the creative emitting of ideas. Go, Brain, go!

Love and snuggles,


Pre-Residency Countdown

There have been too many things happening for me to properly focus on the fact that I leave in the middle of the night between Thursday and Friday for my last residency. Now, with nothing but three days at my day job desk between me and that flight, I find myself rather overwhelmed with things that need to be done. Not that I didn’t expect this. Because I did. It’s just that then, I had a very fuzzy idea of what I’d be behind in doing, while now I know in exact, excruciating detail how very much I have to get done in the next 67 hours.

And it’s a lot.

I mean, it’s not so much that I can’t get it done. I found a letter from a friend the other day that I got ten years ago, and she mentions that I was always ragging on her for getting things done way in advance, and then pulling all-nighters to finish a paper or a project, and getting grades just as good as hers in the end. It’s pretty clear in the letter that it was a long-standing habit even then. This is the way I operate. God only knows how or why, but it seems to work for me.

So now, since writing a blog entry is (surprisingly enough) not helping me read my workshop critique pieces a second time or flesh out my lesson plan or time how long it will take to read the pages I’ve dog-eared for potential thesis reading sections, I think the responsible thing would be to stop typing now.

Oh, but I can’t go without saying how very happy I was when Matt told me that when he was reading my manuscript, he kept forgetting that I had written it, that it wasn’t a “real” book, just a manuscript. I don’t let him read unfinished work (by which I mean incomplete story arcs, since I don’t quite consider this manuscript “finished”), because he usually just says “it’s good, where’s the rest?” which is really frustrating when I’m still writing the rest. But he’s really good with a finished manuscript. He pointed out a few things I hadn’t noticed, and had some ideas to help with places where I haven’t fully fleshed out a solution to a problem with the text. And he confirmed a few of my gut feelings. It’s always nice to know my gut feelings are on track.

So yeah. Need to work now. Ciao.


A Little Bit of Whining

You know how sometimes you’d be perfectly happy to do something, but the trouble is that there’s a mountain of prep work before you can actually, really, DO it? Like you’d like to make dinner but first you have to clean the entire kitchen because everything’s dirty? Or you’d like to work on revisions but you keep putting it off because you have to compile comments from four people plus your own notes on things to tweak before you can really sit down to the editing itself? And the comments for consecutive bits of the project aren’t all in one file from each person, so you’ll have to copy and paste and then merge and then add comments from people who sent summary thoughts in an email, and then decide whether to print the whole thing out or work with it all electronically and if you do print it out that will have to wait until you get home and. . . and. . . and. . . . But you really need to just get it done?

Yeah. That’s me today.

Just needed to share.


El Fin

It’s done.

At least, done enough to send to my mentors. Which is pretty darn done.




There are no longer essential chunks of manuscript missing from my novel. All the big gaps have been filled, and it feels lovely to be able to say that. There are, of course, several threads that I need to be sure are securely woven throughout the course of the story, but most of those will only require a sentence or two here and there. There’s still plenty of work to do (I do have three whole days before I figure I have to mail this off, and far be it for me to not use all my available time) but things are in pretty good shape.

I’ve put off thinking about the wisdom teeth stuff for now; I made my consult appointment and it’s not until October, which means I’ve got time to think about it later.

I have something of a job interview today. Am excited to see how it goes; updated my resume and need to remember to print off my list of questions about the job, since there are several.

This week is busy – aside from that little deadline thing, I’ve got Bible study tonight, I’m accompanying a friend to the doctor to be there for her stress/heart test, I’m working Thursday (as usual) and have a lunch meeting on Friday. And then Matt will be gone this weekend. Lots to think about, lots to do, but my brain is fried enough that I’m not worried. That is the up side of being on your brain’s last legs. Nothing much bothers you.


Still Alive

The manuscript has become pretty much all-encompassing, except for when I shove it forcibly out of my mind. Most annoying is the fact that I think about it while I’m falling asleep–or rather, while I’m NOT falling asleep because I’m thinking about it. And when I do get to sleep, it’s not good sleep. I’m remembering my dreams, waking up in the night, and feeling extra tired when I wake up, which all point to less than stellar rest.

At least I’ve made progress this morning on the myth/legends that I’ve been putting off for the last few months. I’ve know for some time what the point of the various stories needed to be, their moral or theme or whatever you want to call it. The trouble has been that I didn’t know what happened in each story. Theme without plot isn’t a story. So I’ve got a plot for one of them now, which is great, but for some reason the words aren’t flowing very well. I was going to write the story while all the plot ideas were still fresh (though I brainstormed on paper, so it’s not as if I’ll lose something vital), but at this point I’m thinking I should just move on to the other stories and see if tomorrow is more friendly to putting words on the page.

I made an appointment for a consultation with the dentist who will pull my wisdom teeth, so events have been set in motion for that.

I’m also being a weenie about the potential of moving away from my current day job. The alternative is a very good one, and I’m sure I’ll like it, but I never like giving my notice to quit, especially when I like my coworkers. But the move will be good both for my writing and our finances, so I have to get past the weenie-ness.

But now it’s time to get back to the writing. And the thinking about the writing. And the finishing. Ta ta.

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