Wednesday, February 09, 2011

900 pages

"I think I'm writing 900 pages to get 400," I told my wife recently when she asked what I was working on.

I started researching a novel two years ago, wrote a version of it, and liked it. Then, several months after I finished, when I was well into the next project, that little voice, that whisper in the dark all writers know too well: What if you had done this?

Maybe it’s the vaulted Muse. Or maybe it’s a drunken Irish leprechaun. Probably it’s my writer’s subconscious (which, by the way, is always smarter than this writer’s conscious state).

If it was the leprechaun, he must have been sober because he made perfect sense. Thus, I heeded his advice. I did more research, added new character, flushed out the concept, and added points of view. And I wrote more. A lot more. During the revision, I started at the beginning and updated everything. Now I'm nearing page 250, and the book is promising to be 400 pages.

There is another change to this rewrite. I'm going to insist the book be submitted under a pseudonym. New York, according to my agent, is looking books that “guarantee sales of 20,000 hardcovers.” To a mid-list author, 20,000 hardcover sales truly equates to a breakout book. To a mid-list author who has published a series with a university press, 20,000 hardcover sales might as well be a million. And thanks to Neilson Bookdata, it is hard for a mid-list author to outrun previous sales figures.

But the submission process is far in the future and essentially out of my hands, so I’ll worry about only what I can control.

Which, right now, is my revision.

I've digressed long enough. Back to page 244.

1 comment:

Hannah Dennison said...

I share your pain ... keep going!!