After an excessively long time (five months or so) I finally managed to complete the last big edit for Subversive Elements. Now I'm reading it on my trusty android phone with an eye towards cosmetic changes, spelling errors and dangling words. And that's it.
Why did it take so long? Well, the story turned out to be much more complex than I was ever originally able to write, that's why. Going through the text, remembering ideas I'd discarded, showed me that there was a lot more to what I was trying to say than I could've managed before.The characters wound up becoming more ... alive ... and when that happens, dynamics change. Motivations bend and flex, and if they don't fit inside the framework of the story you're trying to tell, well, that sucks.
A lot. Once that happens, the story needs to change or it dies. Happily, I'm older now, more mature, and so it wasn't a complete disaster. I managed to fix my problems, came to a stunning revelation about a facet I'd never really even considered exploring before and, in the middle of it all, figured out how to fix the atrocious beginning to Foreign Devil.
Yes, you read that right. I, the author, hate the beginning to the first book. I always have. But that's going to change! Once I'm done reading SE, though, I'm taking a break to rest my weary head. Elder Scrolls V comes out this week and I'm going to be doing a lot of nothing. Garth Nickels and the rest can just hang out while my noggin decompresses.
When a week (or two) has passed and I've not touched finger to keyboard other than to rant on FB or whatever, I'll fix the minor errors remaining in SE and patch Foreign Devil's beginning right the hell up. I'm pretty excited by the changes I've got in mind.
As an aside, I must thank Pearson Moore (or is it 'Kaylee'?) for his brutally honest review of Foreign Devil. For quite a while (and sometimes still), my nose gets out of joint over the whole thing, partly because I had to google a word and partly because I'm a writer. Bad reviews are ... bad. We're twitchy people at the best of times and even when we say 'criticize away, I don't care, nothing you can say will upset me', we're lying through our teeth and want you to say 'Holy shit, this is the best thing that was ever written and I'm comparing it to stuff not even written yet!'.
So why am I thanking someone for a bad review? Honestly, it wasn't a terrible review. In the middle of everything there was praise, and I held on to that, and to be frank, most of the onus rest on me. Choosing to do a '4,5,6' storyline a la Star Wars was probably not the wisest of decisions, but again, I was stuck with the framework I'd laid down for myself. Pearson's (or Kaylee's) review forced me to reexamine Garth's motivations and essentially everything to do with the arc of the story I want to tell. It forced me to realize that, in trying to describe a dark-hearted man trying desperately to return to the good-hearted man he remembered, I may've been too successful in portraying him as an arrogant dick. It was intentional, yes, but ... I didn't want people to hate him. I wanted people to see the struggle and almost completely failed. Well, I can't go and rewrite the whole first book (mostly because I simply don't have the energy), but I can fix the first few chapters with an eye towards getting people to hold on for answers and assure everyone that the atrocities and maniacal behavior shown in Foreign Devil is (in my mind) rather handily explained in Subversive Elements.
Where I thought I was proud of Foreign Devil, I shouldn't have been. I am proud of Subversive Elements. It explains much of why things happened as they did, and I can only hope the reader(s) who have the first one will join me for the second.
Here is the cover for the soon-to-be-released Subversive Elements: