Getting published is a real be-yatch! Hear about my ups, downs and a few random rants in between.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Fire in the Hole!

I've been on the low-low this week.

My Editorial Letter - that document your editor sends that says "Dear Writer, We love this...now change that!" - arrived last Friday. I've been waist deep in manuscript edits ever since.

Naturally, blogging has taken a back seat. One, I'm simply unable to channel my creative juices into both the blog and tightening up the book.

Two, and most importantly, I'm scared to death my eddy will check the blog. She'll wander by, notice I'm still posting regularly and promptly email this:

Yeah, uh, Miss...err..P or whatever you're calling yourself these days, get your blogging behind back to work. And that's ten extra pages of back story for slacking.

So, why am I risking the wrath of my eddy with this post?

Because she's not the boss of me. I'm grown.

Hee-hee. Just jokes, Stacey.

No, honestly, I wanted to share something.

In a span of six days I've gone from hyperventilating-inducing panic to fire-burning passion for my manuscript. What started out as a healthy dose of imposter's syndrome - who ever told me I was a writer, needs to be flogged - has now eased into an affair with my first labor of love.

But the journey wasn't pretty.

Friday afternoon
Editor calls to let me know "The" letter is coming at me via email and to look out for the mss, arriving the next day. I spend the next three hours staring at the email too scared to download the attachment.

Friday evening
With Princess A and Bea downstairs pumping up the volume on Pitbull's Rombe - the beat is kind of hot - I decide to open the letter. This is a calculated move since I've got to drop Princess A off at a sleep over in less than 15 minutes. Crafty eh?

After a quick scan, I see there's no major overhauls required. Whew! I gather up the girls and let the information marinate.

Saturday morning
I arise at the crack of dawn and give the letter the reading it deserves complete with highlighter pen, in hand. I then proceed to spend the rest of the morning on the road with the fam doing some much needed spring shopping.

Saturday late morning
I get back to the palace and realize that I've missed the Fed Ex guy by seven friggin mintutes! Either I wait until Monday to see the mss or drive damn near to Baltimore to pick it up later that afternoon.

We make a road trip of it and head to Charm City.

Saturday afternoon
Let's play a game. After rescuing the mss from the Fed Ex warehouse I:

A. Rip it open and read hungrily
B. Place it on my lap and make small talk with my husband about the art of package delivery
C. Toss it in the back with the Princesses

If you chose B, you win! Five minutes into my wonderment - just how does a package travel across the nation so quickly - my husband says, "So, what, you scared to open it?" He's not so slick. I hear the "I dare you" in his voice. Never one to punk out from a dare, I rip it open. First few pages free of comments. From there it's a sea of red.

Stupid dare!

Sunday
The mss remains atop my counter, untouched, 90% of the day. It's Mommy's Day, after all. I had to visit my mom, my husband's mom and then of course, take my annual Don't-even-think-of-interrupting-me soak in the whirlpool tub.

Sunday night
I crack open the mss and concentrate. It's been eight months since I've been intimate with these characters. They feel like strangers.

With every page I think, Who are these people? And why did I ever care about them?

Monday
Dazed, I stare at the mss and letter like they're alien objects from Saturn. Where the hell do I start?

Few more minutes of staring. Ponder, ponder, ponder...I decide to go micro (small edits, page-by-page) vs. macro (broad characterization and time line issues).

A few pages in, the thought that this is probably not the best way to start creeps in. But I shut that voice out and keep going.

Five hours later, still feeling a little like a Peeping Tom in the nabe of characters that used to live in my head 24-7.

Tuesday
I spend seven hours on edits. I am bored to tears!! However, finally, some of the old familiarity and comfort with my characters returns. I slowly begin to drift away from the real world and into the world of my MC.

Wednesday
Can't take another day of micro edits! Let's get to it already.

I email my eddy - any suggestions on the most linear way to do this? She suggests I go for the macro edits, first. Hmm...probably should have emailed her BEFORE I started...two days ago!

Too late now. Gotta take a break and focus on my um...real job.

Suddenly, scenes are flashing in my head at a frightening pace. It figures. While in a meeting, a scene that will help me flesh out one of the characters plants itself in my brain refusing to leave so that I can focus on what my boss is saying. Drat!

Walking to the car, another scene bubbles over. My hands are full and I can't find my notebook to capture it.

Hot damn! I'm back.

The thing is, I see the merits of starting macro. But not choosing that route wasn't so much an organizational decision as it was a testament to my genetic make-up.

Something about the way my brain is wired wouldn't allow me to start big. It wasn't that I wouldn't, I couldn't. The characters had been too far from my heart for too long.

Until I sent this mss off to my agent in September 2005, I had been in it every day for nearly two and a half years. The characters of DRAMA were as close to me as my real, living and breathing family.

If for some bizarre reason I was away from my girls and husband that long, I'm pretty sure the first time I saw them it would be all hugs and love. No awkward pauses or shyness.

So, I thought reading the mss for the first time after eight months would be like slipping on a well-worn sweatshirt - cozy and comforting. But it was more like trying on a new swim suit and realizing I'd gained ten pounds - horribly uncomfortable.

It's impossible to start tweaking character flaws when you're wandering through the manuscript like a student abroad lost in the countryside of France. "Ou je suis?!"

But now that I'm over the initial shyness, the old fire in the belly is burning strong. And it really is like having a good friend, one you haven't seen in ages, pop over for a surprise visit.

It's ironic. I used to hate how I couldn't stop thinking about my mss. It's so rude to have full conversations with people and not really hear a word they're saying. And amazingly frustrating to be in a deep sleep and suddenly have the climax to your novel blaze across your brain forcing you out of bed and into the office at 3 a.m.

But I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that those are occupational hazards. I can't shut off my muse anymore than I can stop paying bills...I mean, without them evicting my butt.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, Miss...err..P or whatever you're calling yourself these days...enough blogging. Back to work. :)

Sincerely,

Your Editor

1:26 PM

 
Blogger Miss P AKA Her Royal Cliqueness said...

Stacey? Oh damn...busted!!!

See now, yah got me in trouble.

:-)

8:51 PM

 
Blogger Varian Johnson said...

Okay, that was too funny! Good luck with the edits.

12:14 PM

 
Blogger Don Tate II said...

>>Because she's not the boss of me. I'm grown.<<

Too funny. My son still uses that one, but it's usually to his mom. "Mommy, don't you be hollerin at Daddy, he is the boss of you!"

3:34 PM

 
Blogger Melinda said...

Hey Paula --

I linked to this page because I thought it was cool. Except for all that heck and angst and darnnation, not to mention all that work that's in store for you. But other than that, cool.

Melinda.

9:50 PM

 

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