on writing

I just finished edits on my twelfth book, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t very many. I’m a very slow writer by many standards, but I digress. It’s not the number that’s important here. I only wanted to let you know I’ve been through the process of publishing a book plenty of times to tell you, none of it gets old!

I’m not one of those authors that can just puke up the first draft, though goodness knows I’d like to figure out how. I fuss and futter over every word. Every paragraph. Every word of dialogue. Until some days my muse is ready to pour the bottle of tequilla she’s been enjoying over my head. But I’ve got to tell you there’s nothing more thrilling than finding that perfect turn of phrase that makes the page sparkle.

Well, except the thrill of typing “the end” and sending my story off to my critique partners for a final perusal. And after one more spell check and fixing the glitches my partners find, hitting the send button and getting my story out to my editor. Oh, yeah, there’s a totally sigh of contentment. (And then nervously sitting and anticipating her reaction while it sits in her queue waiting her read.)

And then the offer of contract arrives and I squee like a little girl getting a pony at her birthday party (which never did happen in my lifetime). Not occasionally. Not only if the book was on the more difficult side to write. Every time. I run out and shout it to my critique partners. Blast it across facebook. And annoy my loops with giddy dances of excitement. Yay! Signing a new contract makes my heart sing.

Then of course there’s the excitement of filling out the cover request information, anticipating the gorgeous artwork that will come back.

Then the edits arrive. I’m one of those writers that loves the editing process. First of all I have to sing praises to Mary, my editor at Ellora’s Cave. Mary pushes my writing to be better in the larger scheme of the book. But she’s also amazing in the small details of a story that my beta readers miss. Like the fact that my hero has on biker boots when he arrives at a resort in chapter one and shows up in cowboy boots in chapter seven. (Yeah, no guy brings that many shoes to a mostly nekkid resort.) Or that months of therapy suddenly becomes years of therapy three chapters later. Looooooooove herrrrrrr! (Yes that was me singing Mary’s praises.) Anyhoodles … edits give me another chance to see each scene by itself and really make it shine. There’s a delightful sense of accomplishment sending the shining manuscript back to my editor.

Then the email arrives with my cover attached and I let it sit, enjoying the anticipation of the unveiling. My heart in my throat, my breath held, I open the email and get my first glimpse of the artwork that will identify my book to readers. Yeah, I love that moment.

And after it’s all come together the day arrives when my baby heads out into the world. Release day probably is the best part. Well, until the first reviews are posted leaving me running around the internet like a crazy woman, posting links everywhere.

Hopefully in the middle of all of that, I’ve got another book in the pipeline and all of it happens all over again. Because as you can see, I just really get stupidly happy through all the stages of this crazy publishing business.

It’s Monday. I went downstate this past weekend to my RWA chapter meeting. (Since I live at the ends of the earth, this means a 4 hour drive one way … anyhoodles) I love those women (and one guy). We’re like extended family. Most of us hadn’t seen each other since the last regular meeting in June and we had a whooooole bunch of catching up to do. It’s so much fun (and totally motivational) to be with these writers.

So I spent yesterday cleaning out my inbox and catching up on laundry and sleep. I thought about working on my writing, but just couldn’t seem to bring myself to open up my WIP and get cranking. Which is dumb, since I really love the characters and the story. Okay, let’s be honest, it’s hard because I have to THINK. I don’t mean I’m not always thinking it’s just that I’ve now got to figure out the backstory on a couple of shifters that I let slide in the last book. Well no more missy. Now I need to step up to the plate and actually mine through their personal history and figure out what is making them tick.

To top it off. I’m reading Stephen King’s book On Writing. I’m about half way through. The beginning was about him as a writer and the history that formed him and created the inspiring writer he is today. What’s this have to do with me? I’m getting to that. I’m now at the point in the book where Mr. King says writing is hard. It’s work. It takes effort to dredge up those words to form paragraphs (he skips the sentence part of writing) and pages which eventually turn into a complete story.

He’s right.

And part of me sometimes wants to sit in the corner and feel bad for herself. I mean, sometimes I’d rather be teaching. But I can’t. What I can do is write. And I have to remember how lucky I am to be gifted with that.

The last couple of weeks I was working on rewriting an earlier piece of work. I remember writing it. I sat down each day with eager anticipation having no idea where my characters would take me, but knowing full well, they’d wind their way into some trouble and maybe a couple of heart wrenching escapades.

But I’ve lost that.

Now I worry, even in writing my first draft that perhaps the readers won’t  like this new character or they’ve figured out the twist to the plot that was supposed to be a surprise. I just worry about every word finding it’s way to the page. Writing has lost it’s spontaneity and joy. And I’ve been feeling kind of bummed about it.

But I decided this week to put it aside. So what–I don’t know what motivates a character and it may take me a couple of chapters to figure it out. The key is to get down that first draft, THEN iron out the details in the rewrite. So I’m telling my muse to BUCK UP, get ready to get down and dirty and do some writing. Stop worrying so much and start having fun again. I don’t know if this’ll work, but I’m giving it a try.

Wish me luck. I’m going in …