When I finish a major book I go into several different modes. The first is the Oh my gosh my brain is tired do I really have to do anything intelligent for a little while? Television features prominently in that mode.
Then I segue into the organizational mode. I plot out the next year. I figure out what I want to write, where it fits into my overall plan, and current contracts, and get the whole schedule worked out.
I have an idea for a new book and a novella that I really want to write.
The last stage, prior to beginning a new project is the Clean everything you can think of, even those things that really don’t matter. This might be thought of as the most dangerous stage. If I get too involve in cleaning I can revert to the Exhaustion or the Planning mode.
I’m currently in the Cleaning Mode, heaven help me.
I’ve been going through all the draft posts I have up on my blog. There are currently 97 draft posts. I doubt that I will publish more than ten of those. I get a wild idea and write it, but between the idea and its execution I’ll change my mind. Plus, I constantly edit myself. There are things happening in our world that make me sick to my stomach. I’m terrified at the precedent they set, yet you don’t come here for political or cultural speak. I like to think that this is a mini-oasis from the world around us.
I found a bunch of posts referencing Flash the Wonder Pooch. That’s how long some of them have been there. I was so blessed to have him in my life. I wish he could have been healthier. I certainly tried to make him happy. I think he and Lord Stanley would have been great buddies.
I’ve cleaned my office, which mainly consists of asking myself these questions: Why did you put this here? Why didn’t you put this up? Or why did you buy two dozen of these? (I confess to having a pack rat mentality that I’m trying to stop.)
The top of my desk looks great and I congratulate myself whenever I walk into my office.
I’ve even cleaned the pantry, the refrigerator, and the cupboards. I am edging toward the master bedroom closet, but that is a scary, scary place.
How about you? When you finish something major do you have a routine you follow? What does your master bedroom closet look like? (Mine is kinda/sorta a disaster.)
I was listening to the podcast of a well-known and popular author the other day. I respect him as an author and a public speaker. However, he managed to surprise me with a comment.
He said that all writers and actors are nuts.
The reason? Well, in order to dig deep in their portrayal of characters, actors often re-visit old traumas. Instead of allowing these traumas to heal they use them, constantly peeling off the scab, refreshing the sadness, pain, or angst involved in a particular trauma. Writers, too, feed off of their own experiences of pain in order to convey them with authenticity.
His point was that we shouldn’t listen to actors when they tell us how to vote or think about cultural topics because these people are not psychologically healthy. In that same vein, neither are writers.
You’re probably going to be surprised when I say that I partially agree with him.
Of all the literary genres, romance is probably the healthiest one for writers. I’ve often wondered about horror writers. What must being terrorized/being a terror do to the human psyche? You see, I believe that a writer has to feel what he writes. He has to experience it. Otherwise, what you have is a surface kind of writing that never truly reaches you. You don’t feel a connection.
I don’t read “literary fiction” because I don’t want to be depressed. It’s my feeling that the author probably has had a significant experience in her life and replays it in words.
Do I revisit certain pain points in my own life? Yes. I can’t help but do so when something comes too close. For example, a certain scene in To Love a Duchess tore me up. Not because it was identical to something I experienced, but because it resurrected certain feelings. Anyone who’s ever read Tapestry will know that I replayed a lot of personal angst in that book.
Does that mean that I consider myself psychologically unhealthy? Nope. I’m pretty centered with my head screwed on straight. I write romance so I get to experience lots and lots of joyous emotions. In other words, all the good things that can happen to people. I am, however, cognizant of the dangers of writing and of going to those dark places all the time. Writing is sometimes painful and that isn’t a confession you’ll hear a lot when you visit writing forums. Writing pulls emotions from the depths of you.
A couple of years ago I had the idea for this really fascinating, creepy story. I couldn’t finish it because it scared me to death. Yes, I can scare myself. Maybe I was giving voice to something within me that should have remained buried and undisturbed. (And maybe that’s why I wonder about horror writers.) 🙂
What’s your opinion? As a reader, have you ever read something that made you certain the author had experienced a version of it? As a writer, do you wonder about how “deep” you get into emotions?
I finished the first draft of the new book on Thanksgiving night. I have some chapters to write, but I hit the word count and 100,000 words always seems like something unreachable to me. After I edit I pare it down to about 93,000. So, even though I’m not finished/finished I count reaching 100,000 words as hitting my goal. I’ll write the chapters next week so I can start the second draft December 1.
I’ve decided to go back and answer all the wonderful comments you’ve made in the past few weeks. If you get a notification that I’ve written something in response to you that’s why. I was really bad about answering comments since I had my head down, slaving over a hot computer. I’m trying to make up for it now. (I won’t get to all of them tonight, but I will make inroads.)
Picture me on my white chair with Stanley asleep beneath my right elbow, all curled up on the arm of the chair. He’s commandeered every arm of every chair/couch in this house. He is nice and toasty warm, though. (Every once in awhile he gives off this strange moan/groan/sound. I can’t tell if he’s fussing at me or just happy.)
Someone asked me once – during an interview – what I disliked about writing. My answer, stock though it was, was that there are no bad parts of writing. I think I still stick with that answer, but I have to admit that there’s one part of the whole process that drives me absolutely bonkers.
Page proofs. Ugh.
When I write a book for my publisher, the process is segmented. I send the manuscript to her, she reviews it and returns it (a four month process). I make the changes and it goes back to her. She passes it off to the copyeditor. The copyeditor makes changes and sends it to me. I approve, reject, or add changes and back it goes again. The third part of this 4-6 month process is when I get the page proofs. Those are pages that look exactly like the book, with two book pages on each proof page. They used to be sent to me next day air. Now they’re electronic. My tired little eyes are so happy about that change. There’s a reason I read ebooks more than paperbacks – it’s easy to change the size of the type.
The reason page proofs are so much a pain for me is that I have to check every single word and read slowly. I see sections where I wish I’d changed the wording. It doesn’t flow as well as I’d like. Unfortunately, it’s way too late to change anything major at this stage. By the time I’ve gotten to the end of almost 400 pages I’m a little depressed because I know every single one of those pages where I could have done better. (This is normal for writers, I think. I believe that there are more “down” moments than “up” moments for writers. Writing is a case of accepting those and just moving on.)
All this is to explain that I’ve been doing page proofs for the last two days and I’ve finally finished them. Yay! Nothing is as grueling as page proofs to my eyes and my psyche. 🙂
When I write a book that I publish myself I can do all those steps at once. I actually do a page proof kind of thing by reading the finished book on Kindle, before it’s published. That way I can see what it looks like in the final stage. By the time an independently published book is live it’s had all these stages (with me being editor and copyeditor), but it’s been done in a smaller amount of time. I think that system has spoiled me a little for the “traditional” publishing process.
I’m in the process of writing a new book now and the process starts all over again. I won’t get to the page proof stage on this book until next year. (Thank heavens.)