Hauling a laptop around on the Metro is too much hassle.

The final countdown for Suicide is for Mortals has be-guuuuuuun!

I won’t make any promises. I STILL say it’ll take as long as it takes and I care more about quality than speed. (Insert me grousing about day job and other obligations getting in the way.)

However. Regardless of how little time I have to spare, and how quickly I intend to get my novel out to the public, I can say this: the second round of suggested changes just came back from my editor on Tuesday morning.

I’d really like to be able to do as much revising as possible on the iPad, but that’s difficult for a number of reasons. Really long documents, like the 100K words I put into a book, tend to be rough on iPad apps. I don’t spend a lot of time on working with the whole book all in one file, but that seems to be the default approach to editing, so it would help if I could easily open up the Word file from my editor on the iPad to look at her notes.

I’m a Scrivener enthusiast, and I prefer to have my work broken up into lots of smaller files, kept together in a folder and arranged in a particular order. There’s still no Scrivener for iPad, and until there is, I like having an iPad app that can deal with a Scrivener project. For much of the drafting and revising up until recently, I used Notebooks and synced with Scrivener through Dropbox. That’s the closest thing to a Scrivener mirror that exists on an iPad so far! (There are iPad versions of Manuscript and Storyist, which do pretty much the same thing as Scrivener, but the programs are not mutually cooperative. I’m already using Scrivener and I need something that can work with it.) The only deficiency is that Notebooks cannot edit RTF files. You can create a formatted document in Notebooks and export it as HTML, but then it’ll be read-only in Scrivener.

That’s not a problem particular to Notebooks, though: it’s very difficult to find an iPad app that can edit RTF files. Textilus is the app that’ll come up the most if you Google the subject, but Textilus just doesn’t do what I need it to do. Maybe I just can’t figure out how to use it correctly, but I need an app that’ll allow me to access offline a folder full of dozens of RTF files, and I just can’t find a way to make Textilus do that. It’s all about the individual files, and that is not efficient for what I’m trying to do.

(Some of you may be reading this and thinking, “Boy, am I glad I don’t try to use anything fancier than paper notebooks and MS Word.” I see where you’re coming from, but there are very good reasons to use Scrivener or an equivalent app for writing in long form. The paper notebooks can still be part of the workflow. If you don’t already have a Dropbox account, you’ll thank me later.)

Yeah, so, I’d like to be able to edit rich-text documents on my iPad while keeping them together in the right arrangement. Plain text is fine up to a point, but eventually you need to make sure the right words are italicized or underlined, and it’s very handy to be able to do that with a tablet on your lap while you commute on the subway.

Until the people at Literature & Latte release an iPad version of Scrivener, there aren’t really an good options. (They’re working on an iPad version. The last update on their blog was over a year ago.) I seem to have come up with an okay option, and it involves using Google Drive.

The advantages to Google Drive are that it’s free, it accommodates offline editing of rich text, and it allows the user to create their own file hierarchies (aka folder system). The disadvantages are that it requires working in a proprietary file format and isn’t interested in Dropbox sync. The user gets around the proprietary format by downloading the files in a familiar format, such as RTF, but I don’t think it’s possible to make Google Drive work with Scrivener as smoothly as, for example, Notebooks.

The workflow I set up recently was: Set up the Scrivener project to sync with a folder on the desktop, and to use RTF files; upload those RTF files to a folder on Google Drive, set to convert uploads to Google Docs format; make all those files available for offline mode on the iPad; edit the files in Google Docs format on the iPad wherever I happen to be; download the Google Docs files in RTF back to the desktop folder; sync back to the Scrivener project.

I haven’t gotten as far as editing the Google Docs files yet, but this should be workable.

I also put a PDF copy of the full manuscript, with my editor’s comments visible, in PDF Cabinet today.

The downside of being your own harshest critic

I do not mean self-esteem issues, or personal frustrations related to writing.

I refer to the inability to enjoy a book.

This is a problem that’s cropped up since I made the decision, in early 2011, to become a self-publisher, and especially since I went through the epic feat of self-flagellation that was revising my first novel according to an editor’s feedback.

I have to be very selective about the books I read, as many of them provoke the line-editing reaction: I’d like to lose myself in the story, except I keep wanting to open up a word processor and tighten up that prose. This goes especially, though not exclusively, for indie books. I struggled through a perfectly decent paranormal erotica by a very popular small-press author, and ultimately gave up before the end, because its sentences were not as polished and tight as they could’ve been.

I took an inordinately long time to read most of an indie urban fantasy novel, and still didn’t finish, for similar reasons. At the time I thought it was depression tripping me up, and depression may have been a factor, but my constantly spotting mistakes and other weaknesses in the prose was definitely a factor.

Since then, I’ve become far more likely to start a book that I don’t finish, and less likely to start reading a book in the first place. The hesitance to begin a new book has a lot to do with guilt over how slowly I’m progressing at my own writing and revising, but it’s also because so many of the books on my Kindle make me feel more like a detail-obsessed line-editor and less like a voracious reader.

All this is not to say that I think I’m a better writer than the authors of the books I don’t finish. For all I know, they develop more compelling plots and create more interesting characters with more meaningful relationships, but I can’t get caught up in the substance of these novels because I keep tripping over the ways in which the sentences could be better constructed.

Yesterday, I started reading three different indie novels which I’d snagged for free due to being friends with the authors on Goodreads, and couldn’t get more than two chapters into any of them. I’m still reading the fourth one, as it’s sufficiently well-edited to keep my Inner Editor quiet.

I’m not even referring, necessarily, to mistakes, though mistakes are often an issue in indie novels. I once tried to read an erotic romance but gave up after a few (otherwise very promising!) chapters because it so desperately demanded proofreading. There was an apostrophe used in a plural on the very first page of narrative, I tell you. The three books I opened yesterday didn’t show any mistakes that I could see, but I kept wanting to do things like remove unnecessary commas and adjust their verb tenses. Life is too short to struggle through books like that.