Saturday, November 28, 2009

One Hundred Pages

I hope you all had as nice a Thanksgiving as I did.  Today, it’s back to work.  I may have mentioned earlier that I am trying to finish the first 100 pages of my next Alafair Tucker novel by the end of this month.  Poisoned Pen Press requires that a returning author submit the first 100 pages for editor’s approval before the new novel is accepted and assigned a place on the publishing schedule.  This prevents last minute delivery of a complete manuscript that either needs a lot of work, or is unpublishable.

I’ve been working on New Novel for two or three months, and as the Thanksgiving holiday came upon me, I needed to produce only six good pages to have my 100.  One would think this would be a piece of cake, wouldn’t one?  And sometimes, when one is in the Zone, it is.  The problem is that the Zone is a hard place to get to, and most of the time, pages are eked out one at a time in toil and travail.  

Also, the MS can’t just consist of any old 100 pages.  They have to be 100 good pages.  And therein lies the rub.  So, after spending the Wednesday before Thanksgiving typing my tail off, rewriting, rethinking, combining, I now need TEN pages.  

I expressed my woe and consternation about this setback to my brother on his Facebook page, since he’s participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)*, in which one attempts to write a 50,000 word novel in one month, and he had just posted a boast that he was up to 45,000 words (word number 45,000 : in).  He sent me the following factoid :

Douglas Adams was writing the radio play to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and had only one weekend to turn eight pages he had already written into a full 22-page script. After a full weekend of furious writing, when he came into work on Monday, those eight pages had shrunk to six.

It's a comfort to know I'm not the only one.

Speaking of noir, (see Charles’ entry, below),  as you may know, Dear Reader, Akashic Press puts out a series of books of noir short stories set in different cities around the world.  If I remember correctly, they started out with Brooklyn Noir, edited by Tim McLoughlin, and moved on to Boston Noir (Dennis Lehane), and  Baltimore Noir (Laura Lippman),   At last count, they were up to 34 editions, I believe, including Paris, D.C. Las Vegas, London, L.A, Toronto, and on and on.

In October, they issued Phoenix Noir, edited by Poisoned Pen Bookstore’s own Patrick Millikin, who is quite the scholar of noir literature.  The book is chock full of the most wonderfully nasty stories set Phoenix, written by many authors with whom I’m well acquainted, including Jon Talton, Charles Kelly, Diana Gabaldon, Lee Child, James Sallis, and Stella Pope Duarte, among others. (not Yours Truly, though.  I’m not known as much of a writer of noir).  I asked Patrick if he’d guest-blog for us on February 28, and he agreed, so if you’re a lover of the Dark Writing Arts, be sure and look for that.

And now, please excuse me.  Ten pages to go.


* a friend of mine noted that it must have been a man who decided to have NaNoWriMo be in November.


Hannah Dennison said...

Donis - you have my sympathies. I, too, am aiming for my first 100 good pages on my 4th book. But boy ... am I struggling. At least the 100 pages are for my eyes only. However, I do believe that the first 100 are the worst and after maybe page 150 -- it gets easier. Doesn't it? How can anyone write a 50,000 word novel in a month? Jeez. I feel a loser.

Donis Casey said...

It's the end product that counts, Hannah. That's what I keep telling myself. I could write a book in a month, too, if it didn't have to make sense.