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Do Right By You

This morning I wrapped up the first edit on "The Scales," a new horror novel loosely based on the world I created in Atheist Apocalypse Podcast.

I can finally breathe again. Why?

Because, I started writing the novel when Atheist Apocalypse was still fresh in my brain, back during our 2nd season. I was heavily under the influence of another audio drama, titled "Welcome to Night Vale." Those of you who aren't familiar with it won't know that show relies(d?, since I haven't listened to it in over 2 years) on goofy and outlandish storylines to weave the story with the social issues they believe in. The Scales had a heavy flavor of that influence at the beginning. Couple that with the fact that it is the first novel I wrote (not including the 330,000-word epic fantasy that's sitting on a thumb drive somewhere), means that it needs a lot more TLC than I anticipated.

That's tough for me. Those of you who have followed my journey know that I do not enjoy editing. It's cumbersome, laborious, and painful. I have always seen it as destructive, whereas the act of writing is creative. I'd rather create than destroy.

Recently, through editing "Chasing the Demon," "The Plant," and "12 Deaths of Christmas," I've come to actually--gasp--enjoy the editing process, more with each project, in fact. Editing "The Scales" knocked me back down a peg or twelve. Yes, it's far older than any of the previously mentioned work. Yes, by the time I wrote "12 Deaths" I'd already improved my craft. Hell, I'd even worked with a professional editor by then. What I'm saying is that I learned where my suck was located and was working hard to address it.

Let me tell you, re-reading "The Scales" was like being forced to watch your awkward teenage experiences on screen ... WITH your parents at your side. The novel, at least at this moment, is 108,000 words, making it my longest novel when it finally is published. But that's not what made this the longest editing time. My writing was at fault for that.

It was an ego punch.

Just when I thought I was leaning forward in this 'author thing,' working on "The Scales" has taught me I have so ... sooooo far to go.

My point in sharing this? To provide a tip/tool/tactic to those of you who are reviewing your own work and feeling like your embarrassing teenage years are on the TV in the living room for your family to observe. You shouldn't have to struggle and slog through something you're starting to hate. You and your work deserve better.

What did I do to help me?

I wrote a nonfiction book that will be published this fall. Instead of dedicating 2 hours each morning to editing "The Scales," I did a 60/40 split, giving the majority of time to this embarrassing work while investing in creating something that flowed from my brain and onto the screen. This nonfiction book was a breeze because I live it now, so writing about it was simple. But, more importantly to my author journey, working on the nonfiction book while editing "The Scales" helped remind me that everything is temporary and I HAVE improved. And, trust me, I needed that reminder on a daily basis.

So, writer friend, the next time you feel that creepy dread; the next time you hate yourself and everything you've ever written, I'm urging you, begging you, to do something creative that is HEALTHY for you! Forget deadlines and timelines. Forget about external pressures and the demands of fans who want what they want, when they want it.

Do right by you!

That's an order from your Uncle Paul (shoutout to Airam)!


Originally posted July 2018

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