Puncutation and Paragraph Breaks

I love punctuation — for me, it does more for the overall effect of a story than word choice. I’m not sure if that’s blasphemy or not, because as an aspiring writer I should be in love with words, but I really just love the form of telling a story. Words are great, I do love words, but not the way I love a well-placed hyphen.

The problem I have is that I’ll abuse a specific bit of punctuation in order to achieve the effect I’m looking for. I had a problem a couple years back where I would use semi-colons for everything and anything. After that it was hyphens, and then it was the run-on sentence.

Thoughts? (Because I ran out of them.) Would you rather have a better command of words or form?

On the Topic of Self-Publishing

I’m very seriously considering self-publishing the Novel. Again.

I always go back and forth about the idea of self-publishing. On one hand, it’s a great way to keep complete control over your work. On the other, it looks a lot easier to mess up than going the traditional route. There was a point a couple years ago where I planned to self-publish before going any further, and a year later I decided that self-publishing “didn’t count.” I had love-hate relationships with LuLu. Sitting here now, trying to think ahead to the end of this novel (because I have to now more than ever), I’m finally able to look at it as an alternative; not inherently better or worse, just there.

In some ways self-publishing really appeals to me because it looks easy on the surface. Sign up for some free web service, write, edit, and enjoy. It looks like the best way to make your dreams come true.

Until one day I realize that it’s not easy at all. Self-promoting is a necessity if I want someone other than my mother to actually own a copy* of the thing. I have to stringently edit harder than ever. I have to create a cover that’s compelling, when I don’t even know if the book is compelling. There’s no professional in the corner nodding or shaking their head when I make a choice. That’s so daunting, and I’m awfully shy when it comes down to it, especially about writing.

More Fun?
Even when I railed against self-publishing as invalid, it still looked like way more fun than the other way. There’s no fuss with rejection, with worrying about sales; it really is just writing and publishing for the joy of writing and seeing it in book format.

However, repeat promoting concerns from point 1.

Giving Up?
I don’t mean for this to sound insulting, I really don’t, but I wonder if it appeals to me because I’m worried about keeping up with other writers. Going for the agent, publisher, etc, means I have to write something that’s more compelling than Writer X over there, and I really do worry if I’ve done that, or even if I can do that. Liking the book is not enough, it does not make it marketable or interesting or fun or whatever it needs to be to sell.

There are a lot of things I really like about self-publishing; I love that it’s more common and yielding results for a lot of people. It seems to take a special kind of writer, the kind that’s tenacious as hell, and I don’t know if I have that in me. I’m just not sure that I’ve got the clever writer that’s noticeable in there either.

* I’m not actually sure my mother would read it, but I’m sure she’d maybe buy it.


In trying to make the blog look more interesting, ended up losing a lot of sidebar stuff. Not that I needed a lot of sidebar stuff, but I liked it. Now I have to put it back together again. So, sorry it’s kinda dull for the time being.


While Andy and I were driving home Korn’s ADIDAS came on the radio — I heard the opening chords and said, “No fucking way.” I haven’t listened to that song in such a long time. It reminds me of walking to the BX while living in Japan, with our headphones on and half-assed talking to each other through our headphones. (Specifically, I remember having it on repeat and walking this particular route from my house on one side of base that passed all the towers, and I remember taking the side entrance to the BX. It was maybe early summer or early fall, because it wasn’t too hot. We were talking across the grass, and I balance-walked over one of those parking stones.) It was like hanging out in Alex’s bedroom after school again, burning too much incense while Annika read from bad romance novels she got from the “Take a Book, Leave a Book” rack of the base library. It made me feel like I was maybe fourteen again, or at least able to tap into fourteen for the two and a half minutes that the song runs.

Memory is so all-encompassing, and I really want to be able to grasp that feeling in writing — that when a character remembers an event, it really overtakes them and makes them someone else for a minute. And I wonder, how can you do that with a character, with words? The craft has to be perfect. Obviously, my memories do this to me, and your memories do this to you, but how are you supposed to give a reader that sense of a memory doing it to a stranger? What clues to use?

Senses, obviously — everything everything everything comes back to the senses. But contrast to the character’s typical temperament, or changes in the environment as the character sees it, or just a full-blown attack of everything about the memory? It’s something to ponder, an idea (technique?) I’d love to be able to pull off.

A Fresh Start Every Time?

I’m still working on this short story. I’ve been rewriting and adding a lot of detail to some scenes, and cutting back others. Overall, the editing process has made me feel like I’m left with a stronger, more compelling story.

Rock on, yeah?

I have the old laptop. The old laptop runs Wordpad like a charm, so that’s good. Today I decided to semi-test something I read out of Writer’s Digest once. I can’t remember which issue or who said this or why, but I remember reading the advice that a writer should, after finishing a story, starting writing it completely over again. The idea behind it was that after doing it once or twice, you would be left with only the really good bits of writing.

To me, that sounds entirely overwhelming for novel writing. Novel writing is an effin’ endeavor; it took me forever to write the one I’ve got. Mind you, it’s not like it was four years of consecutive writing or even thinking about it, but I don’t suspect it would be any easier if I had written all in one go. The idea of breaking the ending and making that triumph, and then opening a new file and starting all over again makes me woozy.

However, for the short story it seems like a decent idea. So I sat with my edited copy and started with a new document. It was kind of nice. There’s also something a little bit freeing about using Wordpad, if only because you don’t see the red and green squiggly lines every two seconds to remind you of errors. I thought I’d hate it, but as it turns out it sort of helps tune out the internal editor. Sort of.

As for the process… I don’t know. I relied really heavily on the notes I had, even if I didn’t use everything from them. For copying things down it was refreshing. It helped me see each bit in a new light, and see glaring errors easier. I don’t think I would’ve been able to just rewrite the story from memory, though. I just don’t trust myself to catch every point I was working with — I’d probably remember the cool lines and concepts, yes, but I’d be afraid to lose the details that struck me as important when I first penned them.

So, in a nutshell, I think the idea is sound in a lot of ways but I don’t terribly care for it on a personal basis, at least not so far as going in for a total rewrite and disavowing of the previous draft.