I wrote my first short story when I was in Middle School. It wasn’t very good, but I did have fun writing it. It was a bit of SciFi fluff about some colony meeting a bad end. It was followed by dozens of similar stories set in a wide variety of futures, exploring a number cliched topics that had already been written about my Wells and Verne. My writing style was minimalist at best.
At about the same time I was writing letters to my friends, girlfriends, and any random stranger foolish enough to give me an address. These letters were long and rambling affairs that included pictures, drawings, the lyrics to songs I liked, and once or twice one of my very bad poems. I continued to write these letters until a co-worker told me that they sounded like blog posts and that I should start a blog. Hmm. What’s a blog?
Over the past few years I’ve started and abandoned a number of blogs. Somehow the idea of banging out a thousand words a day for a blog wasn’t all that exciting. I read somewhere that 300 words is the ideal blog post, web users can’t be bothered to read more than that. So I banged out a lot of 300 word long movie, book, and TV show reviews. I can’t find the energy to review each and every episode as some bloggers do. Most of the time I can barely drag myself to blog at all. I’ve never been good at all the social things that get people to stop by and spend a few minutes a day.
Then there is Writing. Blogging is a rough draft, which never sees a revision. Typos and missing words and poor sentence and paragraph structure are par for the course. I tend to think of my blog posts as letters to the Editor, not the Feature on the front page above the fold. My Writing, well, I like to take it a bit more seriously.
I found a program called Ginger not too long ago. It’s a spell checker and grammar checker and even has a little doodad that will read your sentences for you. It’s kind of like having your words read back by Siri. I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of that is, but it’s kind of fun.
Ginger is a pretty good program. It helps me with the occasional phrasing choice and does a good enough job as a spell checker, though I find Word’s spell checker to be fine. One of Ginger’s fun little features is that it will re-phrase a sentence for you. It’s not quite as useful as it could be. Maybe if I wasn’t such a fan of simple sentences it would be more of a help.
But I do like it. It finds small things like saying weren’t instead of wasn’t, but then, that’s kind of a stylistic choice, isn’t it? It’s smart enough not to offer choices on things like ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’ It’s a fun tool to use while editing, but it’s nothing but a pain in the neck to use while I’m actually whipping stuff up from scratch. It slows my computer down to a crawl and typing at my normal speed causes me to miss at least half of the letters I’m typing. Of course, it is easy enough to turn Ginger off and on.
I’ve finished roughing out the second novel in my little vampire series. It’s about 80,000 words. A good twenty thousand shorter than the first book. At the moment I’m writing these books for myself. I’m letting the first one rest for a week or two before I do any more editing. I still have the whole thing floating around in my mind and I need some distance before I can read it as something fresh. It’s really taken me two and a half books to come to grips with the people and the world they live in.
Writing is a high. Editing, not so much.