Books and babies

I’ve been measuring time spent writing my current novel manuscript in imaginary unborn babies. Lately, they both seem about the same amount of effort and energy.

I’m now up to about a baby and a half.

In past years, I’ve gotten excited for NaNoWriMo, though I’ve never completed writing the Herculean 50K words in one month. This November, my goals are not a word count, nor anything so definite as a deadline (that makes that lovely whooshing sound as it passes by). I’m just going to keep my head down and stick to my mantra BIC-HOK (thanks, “Writing Excuses” team). Butt in chair, hands on keyboard, at least a little bit every day.

When I first started working on this manuscript a baby and a half ago, I thought I would be done in a few months. As each month passes, I get better at taking the long view.

Also all of my cells are vibrating for the release of Brent Weeks’ Blood Mirror. If you’re reading this, you should read it (and those in the series before it).

How long is your response time again?

What do you mean two to three weeks?

I’m a bad waiter. I want things when I want them – a spoonful of ice cream, an answer to my text message, a response from that magazine.

I spent days, months, (years!) working on those sentences there, and now that I’ve submitted them, I want an answer now! Can’t you see I’m tired of waiting?

In the days immediately following a submission, I jump to check every email or notification on my phone – is that the response? Did I get rejected yet? Can I celebrate another “failure” with a scoop of exorbitantly expensive gourmet ice cream from the place down the street?

No. No I cannot. Because it is Petco reminding me to Save BIG on top food brands! or AbeBooks announcing Sale Order Confirmed!

But what if I check my email on my computer? Will that look any different than it does on my phone? It might. Let me check.

No. Nothing. Still Petco. Still AbeBooks. Oh there’s a new email! It’s a line of bold, beautiful text! What if it’s — No. Lanier Under the Lights 5K – Register Today!

“Wait and hope,” says Alexander Dumas.

Middles

Murphy. The best writing companion.

In my earlier drafts, I thought I could just skip the middle. Who needs a middle? Isn’t that the boring part that no one reads, anyway?

But I do need a middle, for all kinds of things – the dreaded “character development” and plot complications, and lots of unintended consequences.

It turns out that I’m asking a lot of this tough little middle.

So instead of working on my middle, I’m writing this post and I’m thinking maybe in my next novel I won’t have a middle at all!

Books aren’t written

Michael Crichton was a pretty cool dude. He said this, which has been my mantra for the past few months:

“Books aren’t written – they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.”

I’m not on the seventh rewrite (yet). I think this is only the fourth, but I’m getting there. I sent my third draft to my first reader about a month ago and she told me, “It’s great, but it doesn’t have a middle.” I said, “I know, but I was hoping I could skip that part.” She said, “No. Middles are important.”

So I’ve been rewriting a middle. And once I rewrite a middle, I’ll rewrite the rest of it (again).

 

Murphy. The best writing companion.
Murphy. The best rewriting companion.

writing is insane

I’ve been thinking a lot lately (okay, over the past couple of years) about how insane writing is.

I do pretty much the same thing every day, hoping it will take me somewhere new. I hope that even as I repeat the same actions, I’ll get a different result.

I read books on craft, I read books for fun, I think about how movies and television shows fit together, I help writerly friends refine their work, I send work for (possible) publication, and I write like a motherfucker.

I may as well jump a thousand times, thinking that someday I won’t simply land back on the floor, but that I’ll fly.

But that’s what writing is. It’s a daily grind, and it’s a lot of fun, and it’s crazy.

Here’s to the crazy.