Writing books is hard, y’all.
This is an incontrovertible fact. Ask any writer and they will probably say the same on any given day (depending on where they are in the process and whether the writing is going well or not). We’ve all got our own methods, our own habits, and our own patterns, but we still, collectively, all go through more or less the same stages of the book writing process. Every. Time.
In the beginning.
This is when inspiration is coming at you so hard and fast, the ideas are slapping you in the forehead like bugs against a windshield such that you’re coated in the guts of their awesomeness. And yeah, okay, that was kind of a gross image, but it gets at the whole rapid fire BAM BAM SPLAT of initial inspiration. For me that’s the sprint out of the starting gate through Act 1. I get that green light and I’m putting pedal to the metal, burning tires, drifting around corners…
The blow out.
Somewhere in Act 2, I lift my head from that sprint and look around to realize the stands are not quite as full of those necessary details as I thought they were. And I have to stop and flesh things out some more. It’s kinda like changing a flat tire. You pull back onto the road with a little more caution than you had before, drive along at a more reasonable speed.
Somewhere around Albuqurque.
And maybe it happens before you hit the midpoint, or maybe you make it all the way into Act 3 before you realize, well damn it, I should’ve made a left turn at Albuquerque and the GPS (the outline) is broken and you have to decide whether you’re going to brass ball it all the way to the end of Act 4 and circle back or if you’re going to retrace your steps and sort out where everything went wrong (which is almost always my choice).
A new direction.
So you ditch the GPS for an old fashioned road atlas (yet another outline that takes the bare bones basics of every thread and traces them out so you can see where the holes are–if you got REALLY desperate, you made a color coded spreadsheet for this purpose) and start back wherever you need to–for me, usually back in Act 2 again as that is the beginning of the Dreaded Valley of the Shadow of the Middle. This happens with varying levels of enthusiasm. Sometimes I’m so excited to finally be back on track, I manage to pick up steam. Sometimes I’m already so mired in the muck that it’s just one foot in front of the other. Plodding to get out of the DVSM. The DVSM is totally like the fire swamp, except instead of flame spurts, lightning sand, and ROUSes, you’ve got rabid, psychopathic plot bunnies trying to lure you away to a New Shiny, pits of doubt and self loathing, and scenes of unusual stench.
Over the hump
But there comes a point in every book, sometimes somewhere around the end of the Black Period, sometimes not until I hit the SPP, where writing is like hitting the crest of that tallest hill of the roller coaster (that’s the Texas Giant over there) and starting the plunge toward the end. You can SEE the end. You finally know where you’re going and it’s so close you can TASTE it. And that’s the point where the words are flowing, fast and furious, geysering out of you almost faster than you can type–and so what, that’s what editing is for. Nothing matters but the book and getting to THE END OF THAT STORY. The housework starts to slide. You start pulling out parts of your wardrobe you haven’t actually worn in three years because you can’t be bothered to do laundry and you have to pray you don’t get into an accident because you’re not wearing the reputable underwear for the same reason. You’re sneaking writing breaks while your coworkers are off smoking, and writing on your phone under the conference table in meetings. Dinner is anything easy and what do you mean turkey doesn’t go with frozen waffles? Shush and have an apple. I’m busy…
Y’all I am there. Over the hump. My husband is wonderfully tolerant when I hit this point of a book. If I plan well (and this time I did), I’ve actually got a stockpile of real food in the freezer, so getting through the next ten days shouldn’t be too bad (The man can and has lived on meatballs alone). Not like what I had to dig out from when I finished To Get Me To You last fall. I am so so ready to get to the end of this book. Other characters are kicking and Liam is, frankly, really pissed at the level of unholy glee I took at scaring ten years off his life. Shut up, man, you’re a Marine. You can take it. Give me ten more days and I’ll give you your happy ending.