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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Coldplay knows

"Nobody said it was easy.  No one ever said it would be this hard.  Oh take me back to the start." -Coldplay  This song, "The Scientist" came into the rotation as I was writing.  I have a soundtrack carefully assembled to help me keep the mood and momentum of my story.  I have been struggling all day with this chapter, #43 and when this song came on I knew I had to take a break and blog my way through it. 
Ladies and gentlemen, I am in labor.  Labor in all senses of the word.  This book is nearing delivery and we're both struggling hard to get it here. 
I recently read on an editors blog that a mistake newbie authors make is trying to sell a book they haven't finished writing.  This happens because a new book is all consuming, energizing, amazing.  It grabs you in a passionate embrace that doesn't fade until...oh...say, several chapters in.  Once the blush of infatuation has worn off it can be hard to stay with your new book.  There are a lot of break ups.  It's been five years now, but Dream Girl and I have held on to our relationship.  Other potential books and I have flirted, even dated a bit, only to find that we just didn't have the same goals.  We had to part ways.  I've suspected for a long while that Dream Girl is "the one".  We're together and we're going to stay that way.  The only problem is that Dream Girl is the caterpillar in the cocoon and she needs me to get her out.  Let me just state, for the record, that it is a hell of a lot easier to build the cocoon than to extract the butterfly.  Yes, I'm mixing metaphors but you see how this is all swirling around in my brain.  It is harder to write the end of a book because it's sort of like getting the results of an experiment.  (Sorry, a different metaphor)  Throughout the experiment, you're adding elements getting everything set up and then, at the end, you have to make sure those elements lead to the proper outcome.  Did the foreshadowing in chapter 7 actually come to fruition by chapter 15?  Did the set up in chapter 25 give me anything to work with logically by chapter 43?  I know, I know, that's what revising is for but the business of not adding any more elements, tidying up what was already thrown out and making sure that it makes sense, is still worth reading, and satisfying is HARD work. 
There is no epidural for this kind of labor.  It's 100% all natural.  I'm feeling every word.  I love it because I know what I get at the end.  I hate it because the end still feels forever away. 
Oh for those heady days at the start when Dream Girl and I couldn't get to know each other fast enough.  I looked over chapter 1 today...where it all began.  I'm entering it in a manuscript critique for a conference this May, so yes, it's a useful diversion from finishing up.  Looking it over drove home the point that revising is easier than finishing up the course we've set.  (we = the characters and I)  However, it also made me feel that I'm doing well with this.  It's a long, slow, difficult labor, for sure but I am seeing steady progress.  Keep up the cheerleading.  It's time to birth this book! 

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Doldrums

Well, I didn't do much blogging here last month because I was on fire with the actual business of writing Dream Girl.  I managed to hammer out 4 chapters in February and felt quite giddy with joy about it.  I finished February 2 chapters ahead of my goal and down to a total of 8 chapters left to write.  8!  EIGHT!  Hold up 5 fingers on one hand and 3 on the other and you will see how many chapters are left to finish!  It isn't very much is it?  I should be blazing like a wildfire to get those last 8 chapters done, but am I?  Nope. 
The end of February found me with a 4 day jury duty stint on a very serious criminal case that was exhilarating, but energy sapping.  During the same 4 days, an insidious virus was slowly fighting for dominance of my body and the struggle ensued for a total of 12 days.  The baby has also decided that sleep is for the weak and has been slowly but surely making his wake up time earlier and earlier.  (5:30am today...sweet Lord, I can't go on like this!)  So is it really any wonder that I'm looking at my calendar and thinking, "Eh, it's only the 8th.  Plenty of time to write my 2 chapters."  Looking to the past, this would be the part when months would go by with no thought to writing at all.  Normally, it wouldn't bother me and I'd know that I'd pick up again when the time was right, when I felt the urge again.  So this is my long dark night of the soul for my writing life.  But I do have my monthly goal to complete.  I do have the looming deadline of the conference.  I do have the stab of jealous camaraderie when I see updates from fellow writers (who already have that book deal).  I've been looking at blogs by literary agents.  I see what's going on.  Deals are being made.  Writers are writing books, getting paid, feeling proud.  I so desperately want to join them, but I feel that I'm lamely struggling to the finish line of "someday" I'll have a manuscript ready to send out.  This is why writing is a lonely craft.  Besides the solitude of the actual work, you spend a lot of time on the outside looking in.  Longing with an unquenchable thirst to get through that magical door.  And yet, here I am, rubbing my two sticks together haphazardly, hoping to get that spark that will lead me through these last 8 chapters.  Anyone want to sign on as members of my literary cheer leading squad?  No athleticism required.