Ten months and two rewrites after I got "the call" my first book was in print (trust me in the publishing world that's fast). It's not like I didn't know those two rewrites were coming. When then senior editor, Paula Eykelhof bought the book she told me it wasn't quite ready for publication. But she saw enough potential to buy it and gave me a set of revision notes and a deadline along with that first contract.
Ahh, my first deadline. If I knew then what I know now... I still would have signed the contract, but at least I would have known what I was getting into. Maybe ignorance is bliss.
Blissfully ignorant, I was assigned my first editor, Laura Shin. Another set of revision notes and another deadline later and I was burned out after only one book. I remember saying to myself;
"Self, I will not go through that again for a million dollars."
Truth be told I write for considerably less than one million dollars. After coming off deadline for my seventh book just days ago--picture me as Austin Power's Dr. Evil--adjusting that argument for the rate of inflation to one hundred billion dollars. Each book has been harder to write then the last. And each book feels like it's my last. Yet I hardly know what to do with myself now that I'm no longer on deadline.
Writers live for (or at least around) deadlines. And right now I'm in a "deadline dead zone."
Though I've only taken a few days off I find myself anxious to get back to work. The problem is I have no idea where to begin. It's not the blank page that's my problem.
After selling that first book I pitched five more which were rejected. Two of those made it into print as my second and third Superromances. Which tells you how bad I am at pitching. Or how stubborn I am. Or both. The other three stories sit in a box. Now multiply those five rejections by the seven books I have in print.
That's how many unfinished manuscripts I have laying around. Yup, thirty-five. I keep a spread sheet that I update once a year. Only projects that are actually in progress make it onto my spread sheet. And while I've made a conscious effort to let go of some of those old projects this is when all those characters come out at once to tempt or taunt me into finishing their stories. I'd like to put some of them to rest. Because, honestly, they don't leave me alone until I type the end and sometimes not even then.
Frankly, I don't think boxes of unfinished manuscripts say much about me as a writer. There was a time when I wrote from a place of feeling without thinking. I can be far too analytical (read as a four letter word) for my own good. With this last book I had to print out an emotions vocabulary chart--seriously, one my son uses when he has a hard time expressing his feelings--to remind myself that my characters even had feelings.
It's not that I didn't love their story. I simply couldn't turn off that inner critic. The one that tells me I'm not good enough. Not fast enough. Do the math. Four pages? Is that all you've got to show for giving up your weekend? You should be able to write that in an hour. Go ahead hit the delete key. A thousand words gone in the blink of an eye.
Really I'm not schizophrenic. Unless you subscribe to the theory that being a writer is an acceptable form of schizophrenia. The entire process of writing has become so painful I just want it to end. That or I'm a glutton for punishment. First I'd have to find a way to tune out those voices. Not just the critical ones (though I'd really love to turn them off). But the ones that keep calling to me and pulling me back in.
Since this was the Energizer Bunny of deadlines--it kept going and going and going--and so did I. With the promise not to put myself or my editor through that again. One I'm going to be able to keep because Victoria Curran moving on to bigger and better things.
And here I sit with no deadline, anxious to get going on my next project.
I've narrowed the field to six manuscripts. Which means putting that fresh idea for a steampunk story off another year. Will steampunk even be popular by the time I get around to writing it? Why didn't I write it two years ago? Can I even write six books in a year? Can I even write one book in a year?
Here we go again.
My plan includes a Superromance trilogy. The proposal is written, but I want a rough draft of the first book before I submit. Ugly deadline. New editor. Enough said. First I'm going to take a month to clean up a 600 page manuscript and another 100 pages of sequel for submission to an editor who's looking for a military series. Then I have an agent waiting on an urban fantasy (she knows I only have 10 pages so I have a little leeway). Besides I don't want to rush it. I want to enjoy the process again.
I don't know if that's even possible, but I have to believe it is...
How would you complete the sentence; ...not for a million dollars? Are there patterns in your life you're desperate to change? Or am I the only one?
I'll be giving away a kindle download of my Harlequin Treasury, SEAL IT WITH A KISS or a copy of MITZI'S MARINE to one winner.
Quotes on Writing
Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. ~E.L. Doctorow
I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter. ~James Michener
The wastebasket is a writer's best friend. ~Isaac Bashevis Singer
I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork. ~Peter De Vries
Easy reading is damn hard writing. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne
Every writer I know has trouble writing. ~Joseph Heller
Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. ~Gene Fowler
If I fall asleep with a pen in my hand, don't remove it - I might be writing in my dreams.
If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.