Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dazed and Confused Dad

Wednesday, June 18, was a glorious day.

I finished my novel Fallen Sparrow (Aug. 2015), the sequel to Bitter Crossing, which comes out this August. You may recall me mentioning this book before. You know, the one that's been the Empire State Building on my back, that @#$% book that was due May 1 and represented the first time in my modest eight-book career for which I missed the completion deadline.

But, alas, school let out and faculty meetings were completed June 6. My wife and three daughters sent me to Maine for several days to be alone (and out of their collective hair, I'm sure) to write. And I returned five days later, went to my writing chair, iPad and keyboard in my lap, and I continued. During these 12 days, I wrote close to 140 pages, getting on the best roll of my writing life.

Amid these two weeks, my 13-year-old daughter offered two observations that pretty much tell the story of how I (and, I assume, other crime writers) live as we near the end of a book:

"I thought you were writing," Audrey said one day. "How come every time I walk in the room, you're just staring at the wall?"

And during a two-hour drive to a lacrosse game:

"How many times are you going to take your phone out and record something like, 'If she does this, then he must have done...'? Does that even make sense to you?"

I have said many times that no matter how I try to engage in thoughtful and detailed prewriting,  scenarios and plot lines seems to always change and develop naturally as I write from the events that took place previously in the book. And I usually end up figuring out the ending as I near it – usually when I'm 50 or so pages out. This time the ending came to me – literally – as I wrote it.

Which was terrifying.

What if this Empire State Building on my back had no top floor? Would I turn in a 200,000-word book in November?

Thankfully, the story concluded, and I was able to solve the mystery. So my daughter no longer has to worry about walking around town with a father who is discussing murder scenarios with himself.

For at least a week or so – until I start the 2016 book.

1 comment:

Eileen Goudge said...

John, I can totally relate. I sometimes wonder who actually raised my kids. Though I was physically present, I was often in another world in my head. I haven't changed, but at least I'm no longer in danger of warping my children's psyches, now that they're grown.