I was not sure I wanted to read the third book in the October Daye series after the second one fell flat. Seanan McGuire takes a step up with An Artificial Night. It is a strong improvement on book two. In fact i would say skip book to entirely. You don’t really learn anything during it that is necessary to understand book three.
In An Artificial Night, October goes on a series of dangerous quests to defeat a very old and powerful fae called Blind Michael. We learned some interesting things about “Toby” in this book. I don’t know whether these things are intentional or I am just reading them into the story. She doesn’t come off as very bright. Much of the time she really doesn’t understand what is going on. I tend to think this is intentional. The world McGuire has created doesn’t operate under the normal rules. Things make an internal sense, but not in the way readers are used to. Secondly, despite all her talk of doing everything herself, she’s beholden to those more powerful than herself to succeed. She’s a proxy through which more powerful agents fight. She’s not the loan hero, but a knight on the chessboard.
Process is boring. Process is for pointy haired bosses. Process saps the spark and spontaneity needed to be creative. Art works by the explosion of inherent talent that results in the creation of a great work with a minimum of effort. For the longest time I’ve subconsciously thought this was how artistic production worked. I tried to learn to paint by painting once without any instructions. When it didn’t work I quit. I tried to learn to play the guitar by never practicing. If you had asked me I would have told you things take practice and a lot of work, but honestly I just assume talent just spewed out results. No wonder I have yet to produce my plethora of award winning novels.
A few things made me consider a more formalized approach. I read a blog post put up by a fairly famous woodworker named Marc Spagnuolo about process. He discusses his process for producing a wood project and even provided a poster of it. Secondly, I listened to a talk by an expert on process. He really got the point across that process can help make results more predictable and efficient. My penchant for producing nothing points to some inefficiencies. Finally I realized that my slapdash just hope inspiration takes over approach wasn’t working. I decided to develop some processes to go along with different projects.
Below is my current process for writing a blog post.
1. Write down the post inspiration/topic 2. Outline the post. I make sure to get down the basic structure of the post and all the topics I want to mention. The outline is flexible and I allow myself to move, add, or exclude things during the actual writing of the post. 3. First draft of the post. Sometimes this isn’t done in the order of the outline but in discrete paragraphs. That I link together in the revision phase. 4. Find and include picture(s). I want each blog post to include at least one visual element. I’ll pick out the images and then try them out in different locations utilizing the preview function in blogger. I’ll use pictures I take myself, like with this post, or use free stock photos that are available. 5. Revise. After finishing the first draft I wait a day or two or three. I can then look at the post with fresh eyes. Is what I wanted to get across clear? Is the post discombobulated? I then rewrite the post. 6. Post. I have found that posting during the weekdays in the morning local time gives me the most views. *
This process is similar to the one I’ve come up with for short stories.
* I did some research using Google Analytics trying to figure out when to post and how to advertise those posts. I found out that mornings between 8 -10 am my time Monday through Firday is the best time to post. For some reason I got in my head that Sunday night would be a good time to post, but the posts then got almost no action at all. I also get good return on sharing the posts on google+ and twitter. I gained no increase at all from posting to facebook. I can explain this easily. I have several hundreds of followers between twitter and google+. On the other hand I rarely use facebook and have only a handful of friends. Your mileage may vary.