Thursday, May 16, 2013

Stepping Up to the Plate




I’m deep in revisions right now, for a book I didn’t expect to write until this fall.  I pitched the idea to my agent, who loved it, and wanted to see something immediately.  I took two weeks to put together a detailed proposal, including the first three chapters, and the outline.  She loved it -- and needed the full manuscript within a couple of months (not in the fall, as originally planned) in order to take it with her to an event where she could sell it -- and possibly the whole series.

I was in the middle of directing a mission-specific play I wrote, a comic mystery, to benefit the National Marine Life Center.

I had to do it anyway.

The play took center stage (in every sense of the word), while I worked slowly (but daily) on the book.  As soon as the play was done, I ramped up the writing to do at least one, often two, chapters per day.

I prefer to put away the first draft of a novel for two months before I start revisions, so I can approach it with fresh eyes, as though someone else wrote it.

In this case, I had three days.

In those three days, to clear my creative palate, I worked intensely on another project.  When I came back to this one, I’d achieved separation.  I could read it objectively.  I could tear apart what didn’t work, strengthen subplots, layer in sensory description and red herrings, change the ending to make it more pro-active and satisfying for my heroine.

I did my ever-loving multi-colored draft, where I use three different colored highlighters to mark each use of passive, adverb, and qualifier.  My over-use of qualifiers appalls me, and the most over-used word in this draft are “lovely” and “vaguely.”  If they didn’t glare at me in color, I might not have changed enough of them.  I tightened language, I realized I put too much emphasis on something that isn’t important to the story (although it will come up again later in the series).  I still wonder if I should rewrite the whole thing again in the first person instead of the third.  I’m putting together a packet of unique extras, to take interested readers deeper into some of the material.

It goes out tomorrow.

Will it find a home?  Who knows?  It’s always a crap shoot.  If that group of potential markets doesn’t work out, I’ve got a suggested list beyond it.  It WILL find the right home.

But the opportunity was there.  I had to try.  If I’d made excuses about “not having time”, I would have lost the opportunity and regretted it.  Not only was I able to work more quickly than I usually do (my usual pace is 1000-1500 words/day -- this book required 2500+ on most days), I was able to achieve and maintain a quality in which I feel confident.  WHILE juggling my freelance work to pay the bills.  There were nights I was so tired and sore, I could barely see.  I worked through stomach issues, migraines, work commitments, family needs, garden demands.  I shut up and did the work.

I feel good about the book.  I feel good about the potential of the series.  I look forward to working with a strong editor who’s excited about it and brings fresh eyes and ideas to it.

I rose to the challenge, even though I wasn’t sure I could.  I didn’t make excuses.  I didn’t whine -- much -- and then, only to a specific circle.

I put my head down, butt in chair, and did the work.

I am a stronger writer, on many fronts, for it.


--Annabel Aidan is a full-time writer publishing under a half a dozen names in both fiction and non-fiction.  Her paranormal romantic suspense novel for Champagne is ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, combining witchcraft, theatre, and politics.  Website:
http://www.devonellingtonwork.com/annabelaidan.html.

4 comments:

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Good luck with your project. You certainy did the work. I hope it pays off!

Jude Johnson said...

Excellent post, Annabel. We all have to take those chances and keep pushing ourselves. Wishing you best of luck in your submissions!

~Jude
http://jude-johnson.com

Pat Marinelli said...

Wishing you the best with this work.

I love the way you look at it as a learning and expanding experience of your writing ability.

Nikki said...

Knowing the quality of your work, I'm positive it will find a good home. Your energy is inspiring.