Saturday, June 18, 2011

One Hundred Pages

Here is how my publisher works: whenever a "returning author" comes up with an idea for a new novel, he writes a proposal and submits it to the press' chief editor. She says yea or nay, and if the author gets the go-ahead, he then submits one hundred pages of the proposed book for her approval. At this point, as you may guess, the book is hardly in a finished state, but it does give her an idea of whether or not the author going to be able to produce an acceptable work. If she likes what she sees, or even if she sees potential and makes suggestions for improvement, she then sets a deadline for receipt of a finished manuscript and the book goes on the publisher's schedule.

I have spent the past two months working on the first one hundred pages. My goal was to have those 100 ready to go by June 15. It didn't happen. There have been moments when I had my doubts that it was ever going to happen. I have had those moments with every book I've written, and thus far it has always worked out in ways I never have been able to explain. I actually began writing on Book Six at the end of last August. I was a couple of weeks into the process when life intruded and I ended up putting the book aside for six entire months while I dealt with other things. The irony of the situation almost made me reconsider my life choices, because something similar happened when I was trying to write each of the two previous books in this series. Is there some sort of evil hoodoo going on, here, or what the *&$)@ are the gods trying to tell me?

It's nothing personal, I'm sure. Nobody is trying to tell me anything. As my brother-in-law likes to point out with great regularity, "it is what it is". My problem is that sometimes I can't figure out what it is that is.* It took me a long time to realize that it doesn't matter if I understand the whys and wherefores or not. The only thing I can do is forge on.

This entire journey though life has never once gone the way I planned, or even imagined. Yet I always manage to end up somewhere, even if it's not where I thought I was going or when I thought I was going to get there.

All of this is a convoluted way of saying that I finally reached one hundred pages yesterday. (I have 150 pages, actually, but only 100 of them run consecutively). Now I plan to spend the next week editing, proofreading, and refining, with the goal of actually sending the pages to my editor by the end of the month. And if I don't end up there when I plan to, I'm sure I'll end up somewhere sometime.

*Kindly forego the Bill Clinton jokes.


Frankie Y. Bailey said...

I know what you mean.

It's the things that I think are going to go wrong that often don't. . .and then something happens that I had no control over that changes my carefully thought-out plans.

Of course, it's probably good practice for being a mystery writer. We're always doing that to our characters.

Charlotte Hinger said...

I have the worst writing method of anyone. I cannot write the first 100 pages until I've written the whole book through once--in sequence. How convoluted is that?

Donis Casey said...

The last couple of books I've written have been sewn together like patchwork quilts. If the first 100 didn't have to be sequential I'd have no problem at all.