Hmmm…you’re thinking. Amanda can’t do math? Amanda is hung over?
8 + 6 at 70% = 10
That’s a math formula that…hmmm….makes no sense, right?
Well, (she puts her finger to the side of her mouth for the grand explanation)…let me explain.
I started a book in 2006. When I want to write a fiction manuscript, I start it. I write anywhere from 3 or 4 pages up to a few chapters, and then it needs to sit away. I need to let it gel, to think about it.
So, I started this book in 2006. And it’s been sitting away for awhile. 8 years.
And usually, when one of these projects bubbles to the surface, you’re aware of it. It’s in mind, whirring around, being thought of and worked on.
But not this one. But, by some miracle, and I do mean miracle, I woke up Tuesday morning, with this book in my head. Climbed out of bed. Went to the computer. Opened the file ( I have a whole folder called ‘working’ all full of partial manuscripts), read what was there, and I started typing.
I hadn’t planned it. This book was not in my head on Monday, nor last week, nor last month, nor last year. It was dormant. But when I woke up Tuesday, it was there.
Nothing stopped the flow. My best friend called on the phone several times. I’d talk to him on and off. I’d write in between. They are resurfacing my street. Tons of commotion outside the window. (Usually I’d go somewhere else, like out of town), but not this time. I kept on writing. It flowed and flowed and flowed. Where did this come from? By the end of Tuesday I had written 22 pages at 7519 words.
Wow. Color me amazed.
But the writing stayed with me. I wrote on Wednesday, and it just flowed. Wrote on Thursday, and by then, I’d hit the halfway point on the manuscript.
An idea began to form. Could I possibly finish this thing, this week? What’s the quickest I’ve ever written a book? 7 weeks. _To Marry the Millionaire_ (incidentally-that’s my best seller).
But, I didn’t have a lot of scheduled things on the agenda this week. Is it even possible to pull off this goal? Will the writing jag sustain itself? Will it run out? Even if I don’t achieve this goal of finishing this manuscript this week, a ton of writing has been done already. It’s already a success.
But, I set an impossible goal. I wrote on Friday. I wrote on Saturday, about 2500 words. But, then I didn’t know what happened next. I got the “fun” car out, and went for a drive, and ended up in the next town down the road, and I got a cheeseburger. I sat there in the hamburger stand and made notes. Came home. Put the car away, and started writing. 8000 words yesterday, with just the ending to go.
I went out last night. Thought about the ending while I was in the car. Slept very badly last night. Woke up with headache. Made tea. Took ibuprofen. Went to the computer, and started writing.
This was a bit slower than the rest of the week. Write, then think. Write then think.
But, at 8:18 am this morning: I typed THE END.
In 6 days, I completed 70% of this book. Which leads me to my grand total of books: #10.
Usually, when I complete a fiction manuscript, of this type, I go thru what I call “end of the book depression”. It’s a postpartum thing. But, my emotional and creative year has been unlike any other, so I don’t know what will happen in the aftermath of this book. I haven’t written any fiction. I’ve had a lot of “shut down” in my creativity this year. I feel like a lot of it was “off”…so therefore, when it’s time to be “on” again, you have all this creativity and ability and passion and…everything…stored up, ready to go.
So, gee. Look how it manifested itself.
This isn’t sustainable. No one could write at that level. I didn’t think I was capable of this AT ALL. But, for a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, how fun and amazing is it, to have had this experience? 70% of a book, in 6 days.
Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s done. There is all the “after” work that has to come, editing and continuity and proofing, etc. But, for the most part, the manuscript is clean. It’s not going to take major reworking. The writing is just delicious, if I do say so myself. I can read back, and rather than criticize myself, I get lost in the story, forgetting that _I’m the one who wrote it._
The back story is: When I decided to be a writer, I wanted to write mysteries in series. I thought up the mystery for _Forever 11:59_, but then it took a long time to dream up that lead character. Then it took a long time to figure out “how to pull a book out of a human”. I started trying to write when I was 19, sitting at my desk in my apartment in college. I completed that first fiction manuscript when I was 29.
I’m happy with it. It was what I wanted it to be. But it fell in the category of cozy. I didn’t set out to write a cozy, but that’s what it was. And while cozy does have a good niche market, that’s not where the trend lies.
So, I needed something else. Something more. I created a hard-nosed, hard-boiled, female PI. I set the series in Oklahoma City, because I’m not aware of any of the majors being set there. I knew I needed to up the action; up the violence; up the intensity.
What came out this week, what poured out of me, was more than I had anticipated. Each facet, it became more.
So, here we are. Of course, it’ll take awhile before it’s polished and ‘done’. But the bulk of the work is there. The passion of the writing is there. Writing isn’t about typing words. It’s about infusing the story. Breathing life into these people. Placing the reader IN the scene. It takes a huge, huge effort to create a manuscript that will connect with the reader. It comes from the gut. If I’m not involved in the story, then the reader won’t be.
That’s my soul there on the page. It takes so much out of you. If you don’t put anything IN it…then no one will get anyone OUT OF it. But there are times, when you pour so much of yourself into the writing, that when you’re done for the day, you can’t stand up straight.
There are times when I’d have expelled so much into the writing, that all I was capable of when I was done, was lying horizontal. If I could walk around, I’d have my hand on my stomach, and I couldn’t stand up straight…because I had so little life force left.
But now, after typing THE END at 8:18 am this morning (it’s now an hour and a half later) so far, I’m still filled up with ‘more left to give’. I made toast. I made more tea. I stepped out on the porch to take some snow pics. (the first snow of the season). I texted my best friend that I had typed THE END. I emailed my closest writing buddy to tell her this whole saga.
I still feel like I have more “insides” to work with.
For the other writers out there–what is your process? What do you go thru to “pull a book out of a human”? The closest description I’ve read is in Sue Grafton’s U, and one of the characters is a writer, but the time period alternates between modern, and when this man was a teenager, and he discovered the addiction to “writing from one’s soul”. It was the best description I’d ever read of what it means to be a writer.
Back to this project. I’ve had good success with my writing career so far. I’ve had small press publishers and I’ve worked the ebook market, and it’s been more successful than I anticipated. But I want to move to the next level. I want to be published by the majors. I want to walk up to a bookshelf in a bookstore, and see my hardback on the shelf. So, my goal with this manuscript is: to get an agent. To get a major. To have this book be the initial foray, to get to my ultimate goal: To write mysteries in series.
What’s the book about?
Gee…I guess I forgot to mention that part. I haven’t even written a log line, nor synopsis. It’s about A.J. Chaney, who is a female PI. She’s sarcastic; jaded. She was a cop for a lot of years. She’s seen the underside of humanity for far too long. She’s skeptical. She’s tenacious. She doesn’t give up. When a woman thinks her husband is having an affair, she hires. A.J. to investigate. A.J. is swept up into a situation of unknown players, tidal forces, danger, and melee. The situation is a confounding mess of multiple players, invisible chess-game like moves, and bullets. Will A.J. survive? Can she emerge from the whitewater-like rapids of being tumbled into a situation she knows nothing about?
The book is called: _Suspicions_.
I leave you with a pic of the first snowfall of the season.