I’ve just returned from Christmas in Canada to this:
And you all thought I was just being secretive about its nameless-ness. This is my sophomore novel, so the second time I’m experiencing all the stages of publication, and I’m definitely starting to see patterns. Parts of this feel good (rewriting, editing), and parts of this feel like getting my stomach pumped (first draft, first pass pages). Hello 2012, I’m starting you off with the stomach pumping.
Before I explain the torture, I’ll explain what I do love about first pass pages. It’s been several months since I looked at this book or even thought about it really, so it’s been sort of delicious to fall into it all over again. There are things I’d completely forgotten about and that surprise me as I read through. During parts I even forget that I’m the author, and just sit back and soak it up.
And here’s why it hurts like a fork in the neck: this is the LAST time I get to make changes to this manuscript. The last. THE LAST!!! Don’t ask me why they’re called first pass pages, because oh publishing, you crazy, crazy world, I have no clue, but I do know this is IT for me and this manuscript. So I sit and stare at every word knowing that I have to get it right this time, and that if every sentence and paragraph isn’t perfect, I’ll be unhappy with myself later. And I’m secretly (um, no longer secretly because I’m blogging about it) dying to rewrite a chapter here and there BUT I CAN’T!!! My changes must be little, so I have to grit my teeth and agonize over my tiny little fixes when my heart is dying to make big ones. I know, melodramatic much?
The manuscript actually arrived a week before I left for Canada, and I spent two insane days doing nothing but working on it so I could just be done and send it off. After all, who wants homework hanging over their head for Christmas vacation? Not me, so I pushed through maniac-style and finished it.
But I couldn’t send it. I really wanted to. In fact I even put the rubber band back around it. I was one short, impulsive drive away from the UPS store, but then big-girl Jessica gripped irrational-baby Jessica by the shoulders, slapped her hard in the face, and told her if she let it sit for three weeks, she could do one last read-through it with fresh eyes when she got back and still get it in before the deadline.
Fresh eyes. It sounds hokey, but it’s real and it’s powerful. So this Christmas I gave myself the gift of doing first pass pages twice. YAY! Aren’t I the best gift-giver ever? Maybe next year I’ll buy myself something really fun like a colon cleanse. I haven’t yet started my second round (I’m actually writing this from 35000 feet, my second flight of the day, somewhere between Dallas and Orlando with a child asleep on my lap), but I’m turning this post into a pep talk for myself. I can do this. I CAN DO THIS! I can go home, ignore the suitcases of dirty laundry, the overflowing inbox, the piles of junk-mail, the Christmas decorations, the WIP with the soggy middle I’m kind of scared of right now, and just hunker down.
Here are my hunker down rules. They look like the New Year’s Resolutions gone horribly wrong, so let’s hope I don’t have to stick to them for more than a few days:
- Butt will be glued to chair from the moment my kids go to bed/school until the moment they wake up/come home.
- I will not go online.
- Rather than waste time making real food, I will eat boxes of Captain Crunch Berries, one desiccated berry at a time, until my tongue is raw and my throat is so coated with mystery film that I can’t swallow.
- I will replace all beverages with Diet Mountain Dew.
- I won’t shower.
- I will grunt when spoken to, unless I absolutely must use words to keep people alive and happy.
- About once an hour I will get up, scream, jump on the bed, belly flop, make like a snow angel face down while I sob into the pillows, then pull myself back to the desk and resume working.
- And for inspiration I’ll look at this:
Most of UNTITLED takes place in this breathtaking place, and I just spent the last three weeks looking out my parents’ window at it. I grew up in/near the Canadian Rockies, but it’s been years since I’ve visited in the winter. Stunning, eh? Slightly more inspiring than my pep talk. See you on the flipside peeps.