Monday, April 26, 2010

Means Nine Months of Trouble!

So the manuscript is coming along.  Some days it races, other days it plods.  The truth is, it really is somewhat like having a baby.  You drag on for nine months hoping that what you've produced will be something amazing, something magical, something loved by the whole world.  Near the end, you have days where you wish you'd never started this whole business.  Those days are mooshed up next to the ones bringing you heartburn and sleepless nights.  Then along come the days when you're so up you can't stand yourself and then so down you wish someone would just shoot you already and be done with it because you're going to suck as a parent anyway and this world is a mess and why did you ever think you should introduce someone new into it and there's never enough money and you can't afford to do this and what the fuck, you've always been a miserable failure and now your failure will have a name and it will be out there for all the world to see.

And then you want it to be over. Because one more day on this baby project and you might kill someone.  With pain for them and gleeful laughter for you.

And let us not consider the fact that you can't think of a name for your baby.  Everything seems to hinge on the name and you can't decide between biblical, pop culture, geographic, kitsch, artsy, solid or made up.  But you know it matters.  It may be the difference between this new thing making it into the "In" crowd or being left on the shelf of life, gathering dust and silently seething at you because if you'd just done a better job of choosing a name for it, who knows how things might have turned out differently?

And then?  Labor.  You dink around with three steps forward and one step back.  Are you dilating or not?  Are you truly progressing finally or are you imagining it because you are just so ready to hold the finished product in your hands.

Suddenly, it becomes more real.  Yes, you're finally opening up so that you can make this thing happen.  You're getting closer to the time when you'll be able to smile at your work and think "I did that.  Me.  I did that."

But whatever you do, don't push too soon.

There are some natural rhythms that should be respected.  Oh, it's hard.  It's very hard, but waiting is sometimes the very best thing you can do to get it right.

Finally, and thankfully, things speed up.  It hurts.  I mean, it HURTS!!!!!  But you know it's good pain.  What is it they say in birthing classes?  Pain with a purpose.  Well, you're back to telling yourself that this is your purpose.  You bear the pain because you've come this far and you want, no you must, see this thing through.

I know how childbirth ends.  The results of that business are here every day with their delights and expectations, the ongoing pleasure and pain.  I don't yet know how the writing of this manuscript will end, but I feel like I've reached the stage where I can talk about it with some clarity, should be thinking of a title, and have developed a solid mental image of my characters.  I've got the story arc completely formed in my head (have I said that before?).  I even started thinking of a possible second book in detail yesterday as I drove alone in the car.

There is still plenty of heartburn, fits and starts, sleepless nights.  (Writing longhand at 3am during a thunderstorm is pretty cool, though.)  There are those daily inner scream fests when I attack my abilities and rue the day I ever started writing this story.  But each time I sit down and manage to put my fingers on the keyboard and letters form words and words form sentences until I look down at my word count and see that I've done about two thousand words worth of work for that day, well........

Did I mention the cutting?  The ruthless editing?  There's been plenty of that.  I'm through waffling over fiction or nonfiction.  It's definitely fiction.  I've cut and cut and cut some more.  I'm the Sweeney Todd of the written word.  If this story's last name were Bobbitt then I'm Lorena.  Thousands and thousands of words have ended up in the document where I park all the bits and pieces that won't make it into this story.  I call it the Holding Pen.  All this cutting has done its job.  It's helped shape the story, honing in on what I really want it to be and yet, I can't find it in myself to delete the outtakes.  I save.  I sweep them all into a pile just in case.

Now that I'm over my posting online phobia, I may drop into this blog some of those outtakes.  Some are clearly bloopers, others just aren't germane to this particular story.  They did nothing to move it forward nor to develop the characters.

Until now, though, I'd been operating under the assumption that it was best not to publish your work ahead of time.  I even told my friend Utah Savage to think it through before publishing any more of her work on her blog if she planned on seeking an agent.

Then I read a great piece by Jane Freidman of Writers' Digest who recently wrote that it's okay to publish some of your work online.  What a relief.

So watch for pieces.  I'll be seeking your feedback.  I want you to be honest with me.  I mean it.  I need it for several reasons. 1.  I need the feedback to improve my writing;  2.  I need to develop a thicker hide because if this manuscript is ever published, every review isn't going to be positive; and 3.  It's time for me to show you some of the work I've been doing because I have many of you to thank for the encouragement in the first place.

Sounds kind of like a threat, doesn't it?

Going back to my original thought, were this manuscript actually a baby, I'd say I'm in week 36 of 40 weeks.  There's still four more weeks and labor to get through.  And I still don't have a name picked out either.

I need some Tums, a title and to get back to work.


  1. Sounds like you're really getting there. And tweeting Rachel Gardner is very gutsy. She scares the crap out of me. I've been following her for over a year. That's one tough broad.

    It really is great to see you on twitter. I think it's a great place to give yourself a break from the moments of frustration or being stuck. Twitter either sucks me in or refreshes me, but either way I love it.

  2. I would really so much rather go to a book signing than a baby shower! I'm looking forward to reading what ya got!

  3. Hey, cool! I'm looking forward to it!

  4. Whenever a woman offers me a piece, I take it. Just saying . . .

  5. that Arlene Sue Farber is a dish!
    looking forward to reading whatever you put out (hey now)

  6. I loved the pregnancy analogy. If your book is as good as the way you've written about it here it's sure to be wonderful. I'm looking forward to reading some of the outtakes and I hope you won't mind if I only offer positive feedback. After all, I hardly ever get to be friends with published authors.

  7. Hey, you produce some fine kids--great names too. Wishing you the same for the book.

  8. You have bigger balls than I do girl.
    That and I can't remember what I did last Thursday any given day. I paid for that though, it is now a feature and not a bug.

    Good luck!

  9. Okay, as a fellow writer working on my first novel, this blog post was THE BEST for describing what the whole process is REALLY like. How perfect to come up with the pregnancy analogy. LOVED IT!

    And, Im VERY excited to hear that you will be posting pieces for US to read! YAY!!!!

  10. I can't wait to read about an American semiotician solving ancient European mysteries!

    That is what your book is about, right?

  11. Iwanski can definitely relate--he's been like the pregnant lady, and I've been like his mid-wife!! *ha ha* (Don't tell him I said that! *LOL*)

  12. Title "That's Why." Good, succinct, can take you anywhere.


And then you say....

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