I’m not blogging as much these days…I’m not doing much of anything these days except 1) shoveling snow and 2) working on my Monkey Man sequel…which, more often than not, involves me staring at my monitor rather than me typing actual words. This is truly the hardest book I’ve ever written. And no, I don’t say that about every book I write. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever said that before.
The book is due “in March.” So I e-mailed my editor last week and asked whether “in March” meant the BEGINNING of March or the END of March…I also told her that if it was the beginning of March, we were going to have a problem; and if it was the end of March we might still have a problem. (The story is coming, but it’s coming very, very slowly.) Fortunately, she said the end of March would be fine…so I feel like I bought myself an extra couple of weeks. But I’m still not sure I’ll be done the end of March, either. I hope so…school visits start up again in April and I’d sure like to be done by then. Plus I’ve got a couple other projects to work on once I finish this one…
Yesterday I sat in the Java House and looked over what I’d already done…I was a little freaked out to discover I have almost 33,000 words! I can’t have 33,000 words on this book because I’m only about halfway through it! This CAN’T be a 66,000-word book! The first one was only 44,000 words, which is probably about what my editor is expecting this time around, too. (Actually, she may be hoping for less because she probably realizes I tend to ADD words in the revision process (sometimes LOTS of words!); I almost never subtract words…)
I need focus. I need structure. Obviously some of these scenes have to go…but which ones? I have no idea. So I made a bulleted list of all my scenes (black for the scenes I’d already written, red for the ones I have yet to write), which served two purposes: 1) I felt like I was actually DOING SOMETHING because my fingers were moving and words were appearing on my screen, and 2) When I got home, I printed out my list of scenes and taped all the pages together (proof that I actually did something at the coffee shop!), and now I can lay it all out on the floor and see the flow of my story. It’s not the same if my list of scenes is on separate sheets of paper that I have to turn or flip…it really helps to lay it all out on the floor in one long sheet so I can start at the top and work my way down scene by scene. It’s much easier to see which scenes aren’t advancing my story when I’m looking at them in bullet-list form rather than rereading paragraphs I slaved over.
Like I said, it’s coming, but it’s coming S-L-O-W-L-Y. It’s not just a matter of figuring out what happens next…or figuring out how T.J. changes scene by scene…what’s hard about this book is the EMOTION. Figuring out where T.J. is emotionally scene-by-scene…and getting that emotion RIGHT, that’s the real challenge of this book.