Thursday, May 8, 2008

Little bit o' pressure

Almost two years ago now, I started working on a novel of historical fiction. I spent the first year caught up in "research rapture" to cop a phrase from writer/editor Janis Cooke Newman...that phase where every time you think you might actually start writing the book, you think "but WAIT! First I should find out the name of the general who oversaw the regiment that defeated the 126th at Harper's Ferry! I can't possibly begin until I know that."

The research rapture went on and on until a seminal evening with cocktails in August 2007, when I told some writer friends with great flourish that I was hoping to finish a first draft by June 2008. One of my friends looked up from her sidecar and said, "June 2008? You could have a crappy first draft in three months, if you tried."

Well Crap By Christmas became my mantra, and I pulled it off, especially the crap part. It took another three months to finish Draft 2, the one I refer to as my "hit by a bus" draft - that is, if I were hit by a bus, I wouldn't feel so bad if Draft 2 was all that was left of me.

And now I'm on the final version, and I have to hand it over to my agent by next Thursday May 15th. That would be do-able, were it not for two things: writer's remorse, and daily life. Writer's remorse kicked in yesterday as I was out walking the Cypriot-German editor and realized: my ending is all wrong. I need a whole new chapter to finish the book. Daily life kicks in every time the phone rings, a school volunteer activity beckons, a paid writing assignment pops up, or someone needs to eat. If I get three solid writing hours in during my 6 hour workday while the kids are at school, I'm pretty happy.

Still I believe my family is as eager for this whole process to be done as I am, so for Mother's Day I'm asking for the ultimate gift: three hours of solitude to get another 30 pages revised. And on May 16th I hope to be writing a post about dropping the completed manuscript off at the agent's!

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