The Road So Far: Part 1 – Part 2 — Part 3 — Part 4 – Part 5
Draft: The last one!
Months in Progress: 20
Word Count: 92K
State-of-Mind: I just want this to be over. Please.
Well, it’s been… *checks notes* ten months since my last post.
It’s finished, ok!
I said I’d document the whole process, yet I haven’t posted anything since February. Frankly, there’s not been much to document. I finally had a complete draft this past summer. Since then, I’ve more or less been working on the story regularly, but I’ve been editing. And editing. And…. editing.
There’s not a lot you can say about editing. Basically, I’ve spent the last six months repeating the same routine. It goes a little like this:
1. Copy-paste one chapter into Grammarly. Sigh, as the suggested changes hit 200 notifications. Fix those mistakes.
2. Copy-paste that same edited chapter from Grammarly into ProWritingAid. Scream in exasperated frustration as it tells me to remove half the commas Grammarly told me to add. Decided I trust ProWritingAid more than Grammarly. Fix those mistakes.
3. Run the “Sticky Sentence Check.” Look at the first notification. Push the chair roughly from the desk. Get up and scream at the monitor: “It’s impossible to rewrite this sentence. If I remove any more words, it won’t make sense, you dumb cunt.” Scowl. Grumble. Breath. Eat candy. Make more coffee. Sit down and rewrite the sentence until it works. Repeat until all notifications are cleared.
4. Run the “Summary Check” and feel the validation flow through you as the program tells you you’ve reached 90% of the goals. Remind yourself that it’s a computer program, not a human editor and that 100% is impossible if you want to write an enjoyable story.
5. Repeated 1-3 with the remaining 24 chapters.
6. Repeated Step 1. Cry when Grammarly finds 200 new mistakes it didn’t catch last time.
7. Repeat step 2. Give up on life when ProWritingAid tells you Grammarly is wrong and finds an additional 100 new mistakes.
8. Repeat Steps 1-7 until the notifications stop and/or you’ve passed the point of sanity.
9. Hand story over to beta.
It’s not very exciting. To be honest, it’s a kind of self-inflicted mental torture. Some people like running ultimate marathons; I edit.
It’s time-consuming, especially if you’re as obsessive and nitpicky as both I and my beat are. Santa Paula isn’t as long as Newport was; it’ll land somewhere around the 92K mark but, to put it into perspective, that roughly translates to a 300-page book; it’s a lot of work for two people doing it in their spare time.
That being said, Santa Paula did take a long time to write; I never found that flow, that pacing I did with previous stories. Writing Newport or Phoenix wasn’t a cakewalk; there were definitely slumps in creativity, but I could work through them and find that smooth pacing again.
I never got there with Santa Paula. I had a very clear idea of the story I wanted to tell, but it was difficult to translate it to the page.
To be completely honest, this past summer, before I finished the final four chapters, I was seriously considering abandoning the story; I just didn’t feel it. It’s been a struggle since day one, and I was so over it. Obviously, I didn’t. I’m too stubborn, and throwing away a whole year and 70K of writing felt too much like failure.
When asked for his number one writing tip, Neil Gaiman once said, “Finish what you write.”
With this story, I’ve taken it to heart. It is finished. It’s done. It’s over. I’m almost free, and this story will be released into the wild, and I can move on. I hope you’ll like it.
So, what’s left? As I’m posting this, TrendyKitty is going through the story a final time, just a nitpicky readthrough to find those last few mistakes.
Me, I’m writing this post, and when I’m done, I’ll start the time-consuming process of setting up the chapters on AO3, writing the blurb and authors’ notes, and putting the final touches on those little extras I like to include.
I don’t have an exact date yet, but I estimate I’ll start posting early to mid-Januray.
Yes. Start. I’ve always posted my stories all at once, and while I love that exhilarating burst of excitement and engagement with all of you, it’s usually over really fast. It’s two weeks of engagement and then… nothing except a few stragglers here and there.
I know, compared to many fic writers out there, I’m extremely fortunate with many loyal, enthusiastic readers, but when you’ve been working on a story for a long time, it’s a little anti-climatic when the experience is over so fast.
To be blunt, Santa Paula was a fucking pain to write, and I’ve worked my ass off on this story, so you’ll have to forgive me if I want to drag out the experience and enjoy it a little longer.
I’ll be posting two chapters a week, Tuesdays and Fridays. Again. The story is complete, and I won’t start posting until I have finished drafts of all chapters set up and ready to go on AO3, so they won’t be delayed.
Well… that’s it. It’s been a very long, frustrating, and, at times, tedious journey, but the finish line is in sight.
Despite all my complaints, I am proud of this story. My goal was to improve how I write Jared. It’s a process I began with Newport, but I wanted to ramp up the challenge and write a story completely from his POV; one where Jensen’s character has to take the backseat.
In terms of characterization, Jared’s always been my Achilles heel, and I’ve always felt he was flat and less developed than my various portrayals of Jensen. I wanted to take the way I usually characterize him and give it a twist; I think I’ve achieved that.
So, although, preparing to post this story, I’m feeling very insecure and apprehensive, I am proud. Proud that I went so far out of my comfort zone and that I stuck it out and finished it even when I really didn’t want to.
I hope you’ll like Santa Paula and that you’ll enjoy coming on this journey with me.
I’ll see you on AO3 soon!
One thought on “Santa Paula: The Road so Far # 6”
I can’t tell you how glad I am to find out that I’ll be getting to read your story soon 💖
And many many thanks for spending months on just the tedious and mind numbing process of editing. I’m a nit-picky reader and I truly appreciate the editing efforts!