Musings on this Writing Life
Got an interesting review of my latest book the other day. The reviewer (who liked the book) said that when she began reading it, she assumed it was going to be a 'typical' romance: Beautiful woman with sweet dog has cute meet with gorgeous guy, yadda yadda yadda. Nevertheless, she said, the book was saved by the introduction of a second, wholly unexpected second storyline that "…perfectly tosses the predictability aside, which makes this entire book a lot more fun to read."
The ironic thing is, that second storyline was never in my mind when I began the book. Instead, it began as a desperate ploy to fill out the word count. I'd gotten about halfway through the outline when I realized that the entire manuscript was going to end up being around 35-40k words—a bit more than half of what I'd contracted for. I knew I'd have to find some way to fill out the rest of the book without simply repeating the sort of incidents that were already there. So …
I went back through the beginning chapters to see if there was a character or incident that I could develop into an interesting counterpoint to the main thread. In this case—thank goodness—it worked.
Lesson learned: Sometimes a 'problem' is your best friend.
In my experience, these are the predictable-but-no-fun stages of writing a book:
1. This is going to be great! If I didn't have to sleep so much, I'd have it done in a week.
2. There's a problem here that I'll have to fix. But first, a snack!
3. The problem is worse than I thought. Maybe I should just give them their money back.
4. I hate this book. Why did I ever agree to write it?
5. Oh, lord. The deadline's almost here. Time to knuckle down!
6. There, it's done. <sigh> What am I doing with my life?
Monday, February 27, 2017
Post Number One
I thought I'd take a tip from Toastmasters International ("Where Leaders are Made") and open this (virtual) speech with a funny joke about writing. <ahem>
A writer dies and arrives at the Pearly Gates where she is greeted by St. Peter. Having reviewed her life, the saint confirms that the author will, in fact, be spending eternity in heaven and invites her to come inside.
"Before I do," the writer says. "I'm wondering if I could see where the writers who don't make it into heaven go."
The saint's brow furrows.
"Yes," she says. "I'd like to see what writers' hell is like."
It's an unusual request, but St. Peter has seen a few writers in his day and he knows that they're a curious bunch.
"All right," he says. "You may go."
In a flash, the writer is transported to the depths of Hell where she's ushered into a cavernous room reserved for writers.
She looks around, horrified by what she finds: row upon row of tiny desks, each with a hard, stiff-backed chair and a manual typewriter over which is hunched a writer, chained to the desk and typing away with gnarled, arthritic fingers. Flames shoot up from the floor, burning the soles of the writers' feet and sweat pours down their faces and into their eyes while imps lash them with whips.
"I've seen enough!" the writer cries, and is instantly transported back to the heavenly gates where St. Peter himself accompanies her to the place in heaven reserved for writers.
As the door opens, however, the writer gasps. The room is filled with row upon row of writers chained in stiff-backed chairs, typing on manual typewriters while flames burn their feet, sweat pours into their eyes, and imps lash them with whips. The writer, horrified, turns and stares at St. Peter.
"But this is exactly like writer's hell!" she wails.
"Yes," the saint says, and smiles. "But in here, you get published."