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:


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!


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.