Friday, December 01, 2006

Back to Work


Things have been pretty heavy around here, but now it's time to get back to basics - pardon the cliche.

The Kensington submission is on its way. My current WIP is nearly completed - well, the first draft, anyhow. And now, to begin another project...

When I finish a draft, I generally put it aside for a few weeks, maybe a month or two. That gives me the perspective I need to read it with fresh eyes. Not to mention the fact that, while I love the characters I create, I'm usually pretty sick of them by the time I'm done with a draft. They're like relatives who've overstayed their welcome, and I'm standing at the front door, holding their suitcase and saying, "I certainly wouldn't want you to miss your train now," and then closing the door as they turn to remind me that said train doesn't leave for three hours.

Don't get me wrong - like I said, I love my characters. In my house, when I'm working on a book, it's like the family's grown by x amount of characters. I talk about them and how they spent their day. Example:

Daughter: So what did (hero's name) do today?

Me: Oh, he got into a sword fight, killed a guy, and then got drunk.

Daughter: Cool. Can I have a sword?

Me: Yes - when I'm dead and buried.

Daughter: No fair! How come (hero's name) gets a sword, but I don't?

Me: Because he's a lot older than you and knows what he's doing. Now finish your cereal, Sesame Street's on in thirty seconds and Hero Guy needs to get medieval on Bad Guy's butt.

It's like that for the heroines as well, and the villians. Oh, the villians are totally popular in my house, which says a lot about us, I guess. We like the bad guys. And the badder they are, the more we like them. Sometimes, my villians show up to play with my daughter, which is really funny. There's nothing quite like going to the grocery store and having my daughter announce in her loudest voice:

"Mommy! Wait, Evil Guy left his machete with the frozen pizzas!"

You wouldn't believe the looks I get.

But, at the end of a draft, I need a break. By the end of the book, not only have I thrown their luggage on the front lawn and shoved them out after it, but I've also locked the front door in case they've forgotten anything and try to come back. It sounds horrible, but I average nine drafts before I even consider submitting a manuscript and these characters aren't naming me in their will anyhow, so really, what difference does it make?

So, I have about fifty pages to go and then I will file it in a stack to be forgotten until the new year. Then the rewriting and minute-detail research will begin. It goes something like this:

1. toss ms in drawer
2. after a few weeks, retrieve ms from drawer to be read while baby is napping.
3. try to read in snippets because baby doesn't want to nap and screams for two hours instead.
4. read and edit at night, by the light of the refrigerator because you don't want to wake either child. It's already a miracle that they're sleeping through husband's freakishly loud snores.
5. finally get first rewrite done, list of things to double check comes up to about chin level.
6. hit library
7. pay fines from last library trip.
8. find 30 books that you need, but library limits you to ten
9. choose books, lug them home, find out the one book that you really need is still at the library
10. spend every free moment looking up things on list, making numerous library trips because this stuff just can't be all in one place. Hmmm... new book idea, maybe?
11. read through ms once more to insert all of the facts to make it more believable,
12. make changes on computer, only to find that now novel reads like text book.
13. wake up an hour later to find the screen covered in t's and ms is now 1000 pages long.
14. delete t's and go to bed.
15. finish changes, throw ms back into drawer
16. start new project.
17. finish first draft,
18. repeat

Do this about ten times and it's no wonder you hate everything about these freakin' people.

But I love them by the next rewrite.

I'm ga-ga when the book is accepted.

I dance on air when I get my books.

Makes it all worthwhile.

Good night.

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