November 29, 2005

Rate the Crazy

I am on day 4 of NO SCOTTness, and yes, the numbers are fast rising, folks. I have alwasy been a world champ fret-monkey, but I think I am about to go for the fretting Olympics and take the gold. Let's play, HOW CRAZY IS THIS, on a scale of mildy to OH DEAR LORD, HELP HER:

The contract for the new book I am working on now originally came in with a "first 50 pages" kind of clause where I needed to turn in the first 50 pages as soon as they were finished, like, long before the book was done. And I PANICKED because...oh my. That made me want to boil myself and feed me to wolves. I could not imagine showing my editor 50 pages until the whole book was done because EVEN THOUGH I revise about 1,000 times as I go, once I get to the end I usually realize the whole book is wrong, especially the beginning, and I then do several MASSIVE rewrites and so with my process being like that....GAH GAH having her look at 50 pages of an unfinished MS makes me QUAIL IN HORROR. I would feel like I had just thunked a sloshy jar with a fetal pig in it down on her desk.

So my agent went back to Warner and said, "I'm sorry, this clause has my cliet under the bed, sucking the ear of a stuffed rabbit -- what about this instead?" And he handed over a pretty detailed summary I had written for him, all about what this book would be about (ish) and what it would (probably) be called and what the tone and feel would (most likely) be and I also added a section stating very definitively what the book was NOT about, which seemed needed and certainly the thing I could be most absolute about given that I am an organic writer and things change and shift as I go, and they know this SO. Long story truncated: They accepted the detailed-ish proposal in lieu of the first fifty.

I am actually supposed to be NOT WORKING and resting my brain until January, but I can't stop writing this book. I REALLY like this book in a shameless way. I'm not ready to marry it, but I would sure as HECK make out with it at this point. Me and this book, we are getting there.

BUT! I have two new people critting it who are really stinkin' SAVVY and big SMARTIES and they are reading THE WHOLE THING as I go, and I am not used to that. I am used to having my regular writing group spot check troubled areas as I go along, so no one there really has a feel for the WHOLE content. They help me get voice right and individual scenes paced correctly and such. When I have a WHOLE draft, I have a whole book reader who is both a genius and honest about where I have dropped the ball, and then the massive rewrites begin. NOW I have these two new readers, and yesterday, as I got five hours of working time, I re-read my first fifty pages and was shocked to realized they did not smell like the back end of a cat who is too fat to bathe properly. They were...not shameful. They were...well...they were, excuse me, pretty dern NON-fetal-piggish. I would absolutely have been ready to show these pages to my editor, and relatively soon.

SO, then there was much rejoicing, right?

AH HAHAHAHA. No. Of COURSE not, Silly Pants.

Last night I was completely unable to sleep. I lay staring up at the ceiling fretting because the pages were NOT BAD ENOUGH. Every other novel I have written, I fretted to myself, has SUCKED at this point. The pages SHOULD rightfully be much much WORSE. SO maybe, I fretted to myself, by writing BETTER this EARLY I was destroying my PROCESS and would ruin the whole book...maybe I was blocking myself in by being so polished and early, and the book would wither! and Die! And...hey is it 1 am???

Um. Yeah. At that point, I took a big step backwards and got clear of my own navel long enough to realize that I was being completely REPULSIVE. It's like, why not lie there and fret that the heaviness of my fantastic diamond jewelry is going to cause carpal tunnel asince I spend so much time with my bejeweled hands curled around glasses of champagne. I wasn't just looking a gift horse in the mouth, I was freaking French kissing it and then complaining about horse breath.

I need to be spanked.
I need to get over myself.
Or, maybe I just need a hobby; I think the hobby should be "eating Lithium."

Posted by joshilyn at November 29, 2005 10:42 AM

You always make me laugh, even when you are raving.

As a critiquer - not yours of course, but I will survive - I truly desire only the whole book and I envy your reader. It is the only way to make sure a manuscript is right and whole, with all the little pieces laid out in a comprehensive order.

Joss you have an amazing way with words, you wield the English vocabulary as a wonderful sword. You are delishously devious, marvously unbalanced, wildly humorous, and completely shrewd and entertaining. I am glad that you worry about your baby, and fear its premature debut, because we as your reading audience and fans crave and cherish every word you put on paper.

Posted by: Cele at November 29, 2005 11:57 AM

I actually have a simple solution to this problem.

You send what you have along to me, and after careful consideration, I mail you back a detailed description of why your work thus far is simply atrocious. You'll feel better. And I enjoy lying for sport.

Posted by: Mir at November 29, 2005 12:35 PM

Hey, here's an idea--your hobby can be "eating Lithium," and mine can be "snorting fat rails of Lithium because eating Lithium doesn't work fast enough."

Two hours of sleep. Does it show?

Posted by: Cornelia Read at November 29, 2005 12:48 PM

Oh, pretty Tulip. I'm sure those pages are simply atrocious and that you will discover this fact in due course. And then write yourself into a frenzy making them beyond fabulous. And then all will be well.

Feel better? NO? Hmmm. Back to the Lithium plan, then. ;)

P.S. What is Scott THINKING, leaving you alone while drafting?

Posted by: Amy-GO at November 29, 2005 2:24 PM

LOL! Got any valium?

Posted by: Heather at November 29, 2005 3:53 PM

Isn't it sad when you reread a passage and fret because it doesn't suck? While I have a problem thinking that you could write anything that sucks, I will run to Walgreens and pick up some of my...I mean, friend's valium and FedEx it to you.

I'm going back to outlining the fab southern serial killer book. I have bites on it... and it will be a pleasant break from the civil war book. What madness is it to always work on two books simultaneously?

I may keep some of my... I mean, errr... my friend's valium after all. :)

Never Fear, dear Joshilyn, you know you're simply Mah-valous.

Posted by: Tina at November 29, 2005 5:15 PM

I think you just stubbed your toe on a pot of gold. You've streamlined yourself, girl! You are the wave of your own future, all efficient and stainless steel. I think that is great! And I think you are thin and your hair is shiny and bouncy.

Think how fast the next book will write itself without all of that pesky editing and rewriting!

Posted by: Em at November 29, 2005 8:59 PM

Wow. Now I'm exhausted.

But I'll volunteer for spanking duty.

Posted by: Edgy Mama at November 29, 2005 9:35 PM

Now that I am done being sick for I hope a little bit, I would like to say that I think it is EXCELLENT that you are pleased with your stuff, and that maybe you are worried because of the old "good dress rehearsal, bad opening" superstition? Because I think that's just for theater, not for writing.

I'm with Em, that you are the wave of your own future, which is SO COOL!

Okay, have to go lie down now. Again. Hope I don't infect the offspring...

Hugs to you, o genius person lady

Posted by: Cornelia Read at November 29, 2005 10:43 PM