Down the home stretch…

My apologies for being so quiet. I’ve been working. And that, my friends, is the best excuse for absence in the rest of my life right now. I’ve been busy finishing my novel. Not quite yet, but I’m definitely just a few days away from typing “the end” on RIDING THE BLIND.

Of course, this just means that I have an ugly draft complete, a hunk of clay that needs to be shaped, molded and in some cases cut away to reveal something coherent and pleasing. This last 20,000 words has taken me a while for a few reasons:

1. Ending are hard. How do you want the reader to feel when the book closes? Open or closed? Hopeful or sad in that way that mirrors the unraveling of real life? I’ve been lurching to the finish line, slowly, considering all those loose ends that I need to tie up in a neat package. Or, if not neat one, a believable one.

2. Finishing the draft means the revisions begin – all that work, ripping things apart, making my color coded outlines on index cards, writing a query, synopsis and figuring out a one sentence way to describe my book. All the hard work of looking at the big picture – does every plot and subplot have a clear arc?- to the micro level of each individual sentence that needs loving attention. Revision is daunting. Revision is unpredictable. I don’t know how long it will take, really. I can set a schedule, but depending on what needs to be done, rearranged and changed it could take a while longer.

3. Grappling with the idea of the value and worth of what I’ve created. Always subjective for sure, but I wonder – is this book good? Does it have the bones of something worth reading? It is coming to the end and seeing everything that needs work that the question of ability rises high and demands answer. All along I’ve been working and thinking – the first draft is just that FIRST, and next I will make it beautiful. But can I?

I will say that at least this time, having written one book and revised it extensively, that I have a toolbox to attack the revision process. I plan to re-read the following books to get me into the right mindset:

If you are a writer you should own these and they should be marked up just like mine.

With my first book I was so overwhelmed by the idea of revision such a large document that I attacked it in fits and starts, not really knowing the best way. I’ve learned from that experience. First thing I know – I need a break from this book. It has been taxing to write and it needs a period to rest and gather a bit of dust in my mind. I need fresh eyes to give it what it needs to be great. How long? I don’t really know. I feel like at least a month, but maybe more.

What will I do? A new story? Short stories? I hope all of the above.

Now, to get back to those final two scenes.

Photo credit: Chris Devers

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