Monday, February 20, 2006

Art isn't easy. Neither, for that matter, is the crap light fiction I write.

Once upon a time (don't ask when; I'm too tired to search the archives) I promised to share some information on what it's like to be a writer. (Greg, Teej, Becks, and The Other Rob do this much better and more consistently, but you aren't reading their blogs right now, so there you go.) It occurs to me that I'm at the perfect point: nine days until my editor is expecting a publishable manuscript.

From now through March 1, I'll be updating you on the sprint to the finish line. In the process, I'll not only share my personal observations, but I'll be happy to take any questions. And I know my three daily readers are a curious bunch!

First, here are some things you should know, to keep things in perspective:

1. This book was originally supposed to be delivered on January 15, so this process should have concluded seven weeks ago. But since my editor offered me the extra weeks, I took them.

2. You can assume from Point Number 1 that I tend to procrastinate. Deadlines are my friends... in fact, they're probably the only reason I ever finish anything. Note, though, that March 1 is not a squishy deadline. It is an 'I'd better see a manuscript by that date and it better not suck' deadline.

3. My contract calls for a novel of approximately 100,000 words. I now stand at around 92,000 words, but I'm probably going to have to cut 5,000-6,000 from the draft manuscript because there are a few passages that just don't fit anymore. So figure I've got to knock off 15,000 more words -- good words -- before March 1. That's the bad news. The good news: I am not panicked by that. Anyone who's ever seen me type knows that it's not pretty -- consider me QWERTY-challenged -- but when I'm on a roll, I can pop out 10,000 words in a day. Good ones, at that.

4. I still feel a bit burned by some negative reactions to Trust Fund Boys, but -- at a certain point -- a guy's got to suck it up and assume he deserves it. And anyway, most of the reaction was positive. Still, to protect my thin skin and delicate sensibilities, I am taking advantage of a half-dozen friends who are reading the manuscript -- well... what exists of it, so far -- and looking for everything from plot holes and continuity problems to spelling and grammar errors (me can be dumb sumtimes) and whatever they can offer in terms of verisimilitude.

5. Speaking of continuity, I spent part of the weekend putting together a punch-list of things I want to integrate into the story or watch for consistency when I apply the final polish.

6. And speaking of holes, with nine short days to go I still have several long sections of the manuscript where nothing exists except 'and then they do this, and transition to next scene.' As I warned my special guest readers, the process isn't necessarily pretty. But it is what it is.

So sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride for the next nine days. Oh, and let's hope I don't fuck this up too badly, okay? Because you know what I'm capable of...