Revising a Book Is Sort of Like Hell, Basically, So Take Care of Yourself

Back in 2009, I had just finished the revision of CAPTIVATE (sequel to NEED), and after I happy danced, I pretty much passed out.

wordpress com stats

The revision of that book was the hardest revision I ever had to do, basically because during that revision I had to work my brain really hard and I was still pretty new to writing novels.

carriejonesbooks.blog

DURING THAT REVISION:

1. I cut about 40,000 words in two-revision passes.
2. I added about 20,000 more words.
3. I lost all word retrieval skills.
4. I  called everyone I saw BABY  because that was the only word I could retrieve.

5. I lost one friend who didn’t like that I called him BABY and failed to call him back 8,0000 times.
6. I gained three more friends who were into the whole BABY thing.
7. I wondered why I was a writer 74 times (a day).

My whole life went on hold I made lists like this:

Tomorrow I will have to:

1. Call my father who thinks I don’t love him anymore and doesn’t understand that I can’t talk to him in the middle of work when he always talks for at least an hour and it totally ruins my ability to think.

2. Email my mother who is much more understanding.

3. Do push-ups.

4. Pass out again.

5. Reply to blog comments.

Yes, that’s how bad it was. I put ‘pass out’ on my list of things to do.

Revision can be tough especially when there’s a whole lot of pressure on you. To be the best writer and person you can be, you have to take care of yourself, not just your book.

carriejonesbooks.blog

So here are some tips on how to stay healthy while revising

Get Some Sleep

I know! I know! Writers are supposed to write until they are slumped over their desk and drooling on their keyboard, but this is not actually healthy!

Your brain becomes less efficient the more it needs sleep. So no all-nighters, writing friends.

Have Healthy Snacks, Not Sugary Ones.

Sugar makes you fluctuate between big highs and lows. Nobody wants that.

Stand Up A Lot

Sitting at the desk forever isn’t good for you. Stand up and work whenever you can or at least take breaks from the sitting.

Get Exercise

This is right there with not sitting at your desk all the time, but I made it two separate points. If you take the time to work out before you do your actual writing work, it helps keep you focused and awake.

Drink Water

Dehydrated writers are writers who faint. Fainting is romantic in books, but in real life it leads to concussions. Concussions lead to missed deadlines. Nobody wants that.

Do Good Wednesday

Be a kindness ambassador. I know! I know! It sounds corny, but I’m so super serious. Leave a note, a present, anonymously somewhere in your town or school for someone specific or anyone at all.

Need a specific idea on how to do this? There used to be a blog called Secret Agent L (I think) where the person in charge of the blog went around their town doing this sort of thing. It was cool.

The link is here.

carriejonesbooks.blog

Random Marketing and Book Things Since I am an Author and Need To Make Money.

I KNOW! I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO ADMIT IT. 

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy was all official on March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can order it!

Kirkus Review says:   A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.

The Spy Who Played Baseball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, has a new podcast that came out Tuesday. All the episodes links are on this page.

This podcast is weird, quirky, and totally authentic. I mean, you can tell we are goofy people just trying to share some writing tips and life tips and we are not sitting in the NPR studio. I mean look at us. We’re total dorks.

And finally, I made a little video for my TIME STOPPERS books.

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.

Advertisements

Prom Parties Can Make You a Writer & Teach You About Pacing

Since I have no shame what-so-ever, and since I enjoy humiliating myself I am going to post my old prom pictures here.

So, here it is:

This is me with Joe. Joe is gay. He wasn’t out yet here. He was the best boyfriend ever obviously since he went to the prom with me despite the fact that I was wearing this pink monstrosity of a dress. From now on the dress will be referred to as BERTHABELINDAGOGOS.

Check out the bottom part of BERTHABELINDAGOGOS! You could make five dresses for Beyonce out of that… that… Not that Beyonce would allow that, obviously.

Oh! What is the name for the bottom part of a dress? You can tell I am no good at dressmaking terms. Oh… yeah… hemline?

Also, please try to ignore my hair and the fact that we are holding my dog, Shelly Belly, and gazing at each other in a total Lifetime Movie sort of way and that Shelly Belly is ALSO GAZING AT JOE IN A TOTAL LIFETIME MOVIE SORT OF WAY!!! Shelly Belly! I never knew.

(Yes. Those are two different pink dresses. Yes. Joe and I went to two different proms together, two years in a row. Yes. My mother made us pose in front of the fireplace EACH TIME!!!)

Cleansing breaths, Carrie. Cleansing breaths.

 

Here are Joe and I post prom at Hampton Beach in NH, which is where everyone went if they:

1. Didn’t go to a hotel to be skanky
2. Didn’t go home to be lonely
3. Didn’t go to the post-prom party to be good kids approved of by the school administration and parents everywhere.

Although, actually we did go to the post-prom party and it was there that my German teacher (who is QUITE similar to the German teacher in TIPS) dunked me in the swimming pool repeatedly. I have not forgiven him for the repeated dunking (Water up the nose is NOT fun, Herr Wells!), which is why there is a German teacher in TIPS.

Note in the picture that  the cool U2 shirt, and Chris LaSalle passed out behind us. He is the lump in the sand.

Note that the Emster hates this picture.

Note that I am posting it anyway because my chin looks good.

Note that we went to the post-prom party because you could win things (I WON A SAVINGS BOND, WHICH PAID FOR A COMPUTER, WHICH SET ME ON THE COURSE OF BEING A WRITER) and  because there was free pizza!

Moral of the story: Always go to post-prom parties if you want to be a writer or get free pizza.

Where is the Writing Wisdom in all this, you might ask. Is this not Writing Wisdom Wednesday and also Do Good Wednesday? Yes… yes… it is.

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/My-Post-6-5.jpg

Writing Wisdom Time

Books are like prom experiences.

No two proms are going to be the same even if you go with the same person. Proms have different levels of thrill and different levels of boredom. Some are hell on earth. Some are fantasies out of 1980s movies complete with awesome soundtracks.

Books are like that, too.

There is no one way to be a book. But all books, and all proms have a certain pace to them. You expect for them to fall into one of the types of pacing and action:

Some will be a slower, mellow time. Think a quiet, literary novel.

Some will be all razz-ma-razz action, blowing your hair back. Think a loud movie about Marvel characters, only as a book.

What happens is you get an expectation of pace that happens from your very first page and voice and tone, or the moment your prom date shows up with a clown wig and another woman on his arm. You set up the cause and effect, the action and reaction, and the speed between those two elements.

If you think of it as plot points, then you want to have a consistent distance between plot points.

Plot Point One…. 5,000 words happen…. Plot Point Two… 5,000 words happen. 

And so on.

But then the plot speeds up right before the climax, and then it slows down right after a huge revelation or plot point to allow for emotional reaction.

Pacing is a tool you get to use to make the best story possible. How cool is that?

carriejonesbooks.blog

Do Good Wednesday

In honor of Joe and all the people I love and adore and respect, here is your Do Good Wednesday link. All you need to do is get informed. That’s it.

I once had someone look at TIPS; it was an industry professional and he lived in NYC and he’s super liberal and he said, “Carrie. This isn’t a believable premise. Hate crimes against gays don’t happen anymore.”

YouthReport-Statistics-2-1600x900

He was obviously wrong then. He is still wrong now. We have only just had the first teen gay romance movie, right? We are still growing and as we grow? Sometimes hate lashes back and out harder than ever. So, just read about it, especially if you’re straight. Think about what it is to be a child of love.

 

Random Marketing and Book Things Since I am an Author and Need To Make Money.

I know! I’m not supposed to admit it. 

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy was all official on March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can order it!

Kirkus Review says:   A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.

The Spy Who Played Baseball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, has a new podcast that came out Tuesday.

 

And finally, I made a little video for my TIME STOPPERS books.

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.

Having Epilepsy

 

I am pretty open about having occasional seizures, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how that aspect of my identity fits in the writing community and I’ve been really inspired by author Mike Jung’s adult autism journey and it’s made me wonder why despite the fact that I’m so open about having seizures, I’m so hesitant to claim that as part of who I am.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not sure.

My seizure journey is a bit weird. Right before I started college, I had a #metoomoment that left lasting physical consequences. The guy was about to have  (or did have) Mono, which meant he had the Epstein Barr virus. He gave that to me. But the virus didn’t just give me Mono. It attacked my brain. I had bullet rashes and seizures that started with my right hand jerking and then my arm and then I would pass out.

It wasn’t the best way to start college but the administration at Bates were outstanding with one dean even volunteering to stay up all night with me to make sure I didn’t fall asleep for sleep deprivation tests.

Eventually, those seizures stopped being multiple times a day to once a week to hardly ever.

And when they did happen, it was usually at night. And when they did happen, I knew it and would say how I felt sort of “wiggly,” which I guess is my code word for seizures.

This is my first book. The main character has seizures.
So how does this relate to being a writer and labels and discrimination? I’m honestly not 100 % sure. I know that when people talk about being a disabled author, I don’t think of myself. I know that when people post stereotypes or negativity about people with epilepsy in their family, it takes a hell of a lot for me to confront them about it, but I do and afterwards I feel … panic. Because their worries/fears about their family member’s health tends to be more important to them than the stigma they are reinforcing. Or, when people ask me about epilepsy in a book and I say that it’s a trope that’s happening or a stereotype, they ignore it and win awards. 
And yes, this is partly my fault.
My disability is hidden and I let it stay that way because I don’t announce it very often. I don’t claim it much anymore. And you know what? That’s wrong. It makes me a coward. Other people dealing with discrimination and oppression don’t have that luxury. 

Despite the fact that epilepsy is commonplace in our society, there is still a feeling of secrecy and shame associated with it. There are still negative stereotypes that exist.

Jenna Martin quotes Bruce Link of Columbia University who wrote “Stigma exists when a person is identified by a label that sets that person apart and links that person to undesirable stereotypes that result in unfair treatment and discrimination.” (Martin 1)

I am a really fully functioning person who has had seizures – so many seizures. The amount of seizures that I’ve had in my past has made me more susceptible to having seizures now, but the virus also caused some cognitive degeneration. It’s not good for a brain to have as many seizures as my brain has had, for that virus to attack it.

“You’ve lost a good 20 IQ points,” my neurologist told me in college and when I grimaced, he sort of laughed and said, “It’s a good thing you started off so high, but I really don’t want you to lose anymore.”

But the thing is? I can tell. I can feel that loss of cognitive ability. All. The. Time. And I hate it.

I also hate the stigma that Link speaks of and that’s why I have been so hesitant to really claim the label.

It is a negative cycle according to Martin and Link. The first step that occurs is that people realize that others are different from them and they give those differences “labels.” Next, the cultural mores determine that those people with labeled characteristics are representative of all people like them, creating a “negative stereotype.” There becomes an “us vs. them” mentality. Finally, those who are labeled become discriminated against. (Martin 1)

Obviously in the United State in 2017, this applies to more than people with epilepsy, but I’m going to try to confine my topic to this stigma here.

By being a successful writer and having a wonderful, eclectic AF life, I am not fighting that epilepsy stigma when I don’t talk about my times with seizures. I have  friends who also have seizures and nobody knows except me and a couple other people. They keep it secret, really secret. Why? Because they are afraid of being judged. Because they are afraid of losing a job, not getting a job, not being able to afford their health insurance.

I get that.

One of the happiest things that ever happened when I had a seizure was having the person I was with tell me, “That wasn’t all that big a deal.”

One of the worst things that ever happened when I had a seizure was when someone abandoned me and never talked to me again.

And concussions. Fainting is not as romantic as it sounds when it involves hitting your head on hard surfaces.

There has been a long history of people feeling ashamed that they have epilepsy. Epilepsy was hidden. Epilepsy was a secret. Epilepsy was something to fear. Epilepsy was and is a stigma. But epilepsy has made appearances in literature, which brings us back to books and the power of writing.

It was in 400 B.C. that Hippocrates, a Greek physician, wrote Western civilization’s first book about seizures. On the Sacred Disease was non-fiction. In it, Hippocrates refuted the idea that epilepsy was a sacred power, which had been the thought of the time. He didn’t think it was the work of evil forces. Hippocrates believed epilepsy was a brain disorder.

That way of thinking did not stick, however.

In the Bible, Book of Mark (9:14-29), Jesus Christ rids a young man of epilepsy,

“Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive the spirit out, but they could not.”

In the Bible, to have seizures is to be possessed.

Things got worse for people with seizures. With the blessing of the pope, two friars wrote Malleus Maleficarum, a 1494 handbook on witch-hunting. The handbook influenced the persecution of over 200,000 women. Many were tortured. Many were killed. It was not a good time for women who had seizures, because seizures were identified as a trait of witches. To have seizures was to be a witch. To be a witch was to be killed. Women, children and men who had epilepsy did their best to keep it a secret. If they did not, they risked their lives.

Even as late as the 1900s, people with epilepsy could be banned from driving, sterilized, or prohibited from marrying in some states. In 1980, an Idaho mother lost custody of her child. The father argued the mother was unfit because of her epilepsy. The decision was overturned in 1981. It wasn’t until 1980, just a few decades ago, that Missouri repealed the ban that prohibited the marriage of people with epilepsy.

According to American Steven C. Schachter, M.D., “Epilepsy is perfectly compatible with a normal, happy, and full life. Most people with epilepsy go to school, make friends, date, have jobs and families. Not that it’s always easy. Sometimes coping with the reaction of other people can be the most difficult part of living with epilepsy. Keeping a positive outlook is key. So is a strong sense of self-esteem and independence, with emphasis on abilities rather than difficulties.” (Schachter, Stephen)

That’s how it should be. It isn’t how it is.

Imagine: You’re a man with epilepsy. You go to a pharmacy in a Virginia big box store and while you’re there you have a seizure. The store decides you can’t come back. It’s too disturbing for their customers. The next time you go to pick up your medicine you’re arrested for trespassing.

Imagine: You’re a college student in Tennessee. The school administration tells you, that you can’t attend classes anymore because you have epilepsy. It’s not so bad, they say. You can take your classes through the Internet.

Imagine: You’re a Texas woman with a good job, but you lose it once you fill out insurance forms and write that you’re epileptic.

Imagine: You’re the mother of a California preschooler. The school staff refuses to give your child the emergency life-saving medicine that the child might need.

Imagine: You’re a New Jersey man who has a seizure. Police respond to a call for medical assistance. They use excess force to restrain you. You die. (Legal Information about Epilepsy)

So, yeah. I have epilepsy but epilepsy doesn’t have me. And if you are a writer or reader or anyone, please remember that people aren’t defined by their differences. Their differences are part of them, but not all of them.

Link B., Phelan J. Conceptualizing Stigma. Annu. Rev Sociol. 1001; 27:363-85

Martin, Jenna. “Remembering Danny.” Epilepsy.com. Epilepsy Therapy Development  Project. . 20 Jan. 2006 <http://www.epilepsy.com/stories/ps_1093455944.html>.

Martin, Jenna. “Teens with Epilepsy: Living with Stigma.” Epilepsy.com. Epilepsy Therapy Development  Project.. 20 Jan. 2006 <http://www.epilepsy.com/articles/ar_1089388403.html>.

%d bloggers like this: