Friday, April 15, 2005

How I Got Here, Part 36

Fantastic Friday!

Well. As you eagle-eyed BGs have been noticing, I ain’t been tellin’ ya a doggone thing about how my new book’s coming. Kelly even had the nerve in her comments yesterday to say, “Oh, hey, shouldn’t you have about 60 pages done by now?”

Kelly, it’s a good thing we’re talking through cyber space, or I’d a punched you in the nose.

No, I don’t have 60 pages, okay? I have maybe 20. Fact is, over the weekend, I nearly chucked the whole book idea. It wasn’t going anywhere, I couldn’t figure out the story, and I figured I’d better just start over. Trouble was, nothing new came to mind.

Truth is, my pea brain is weary. The Web of Lies rewrite took way too long, and I dragged myself over the finish line one day before I was supposed to start writing the next book. Which I had no clue about. Ye ol’ brain cells simply needed a rest. So although I tried to force an opening (including that first line), it just wasn’t coming. So I gave myself a few days to think and pull back from all writing. Monday I hardly spent in my office. What’s a girl to do when she needs a break? GO SHOPPING! Oh, yeah, baby. Why else do you think I ended up in Nordstrom’s—where the spider crawled out of the sandal I wanted to try on.

See how my writing haunts me wherever I go?

I have now thought of a few more ideas for this here Paige whatever-her-last-name-is book. Actually, I’ve decided—her last name is Williams. Now I really do have to start writing. I hope as I write what I do know that I can start to fill in the rest of the story.

Quick answers to questions from yesterday. (1). Proposals. Yes, generally for a new author, a nonfiction book is far more likely to be sold on a proposal than a novel. Fiction is just plain harder to write, and the house will want to know that the new novelist can pull off the entire book, not just the first few chapters. (2). Line editing vs. copy editing. As I see it, the former is still editing the actual writing, but on a line by line, picky basis. Do you really want to use this word? Or—these two lines are not needed; I suggest you delete. Copy editing is checking facts, consistencies, spelling and grammar. Line edits are typically done by the same editor who does the “macro” or overall biggy edit. Copy editors are different animals altogether. They’re the detail-oriented freaks. A good copy editor is an incredible talent. Anybody that can spot a white blouse changing to beige 200 pages later is a keeper in my book. Pun intended. Plus they have to know the Chicago Manual of Style backwards and forwards. Try that on for some late night reading. (3). My editing at Zondervan. Both Dave Lambert and Karen Ball do my macro edit. See why my life’s so tough? These two keep my feet to the fire. From there, Karen does the track changes (or line edits). A copy editor then takes over for copy editing. And then a proofer—yet another person—proofs the final typeset version.

All right, bodacious BGs. Back to our Never Ending Saga.

We’re up to the spring of 2001. Two things happened by that year’s Mount Hermon conference. One, I finished Getting Into Character and sent it off to the publisher. Two—drum roll . . . My first novel, Cast a Road Before Me, was published.

There are few words worthy to describe what it feels like to hold your first novel in your hands. The fruition of a journey that had taken ten years. Actually by March 2001 I was into my twelfth year of writing fiction. The publisher had told me they’d send one book hot off the press. The rest of my free copies would come later. That was fine by me—one copy was all I needed. So I started looking for the UPS truck—every day. Driver must have thought I had a serious crush on him. I could hear the truck from my office. So I’d trot outside, watch him go up the street, and wait and wait, hoping against hope that he’d stop at our house on the way back down.

And one day he did.

I hopped around like some cut loose Jack-in-the-box as he rattled around the truck, looking for my package. “Hm. Can’t find it. Maybe it got left behind. If so, I’ll bring it to you tomorrow.”

What, was he kidding? He’d left my package back at some loading dock? I couldn’t believe it. Who’d trained him in such leave-me-hanging techniques—some house’s pub board?

“Oh, wait. Here it is.”

He handed it to me with total nonchalance. Like it was some book I’d ordered, or some pair of pants. Didn’t he know that package contained my world?

I grabbed the thing in my chubby little hands and sailed up the steps to our porch. Into the house. Banged shut the door with a foot. Hurried into the kitchen. Plopped the package onto the counter.

Stood back and looked at it.

Suddenly, I couldn’t open the thing.

It’s just that, well, I’d waited so long. Worked for so many years. And here my first book sat, bundled up on my counter. I wanted a crew filming this scene. I wanted swelling music, crowds applauding. Instead—nobody. Sheesh, even my husband was at work.

Maybe I should wait until he got home. After all, he’d been through the heartaches of this journey with me. He could take a movie of me flourishing a knife, slitting the top of the package. Pulling out my book. We’d have the film forever. I could show it to my kids, my grandkids. You know, when I was a world-renowned author, and they’d climb on my lap and ask, “How did it all begin, Grandma?”

I looked at the package.

The clock.

It was only ten in the morning.

Stared at the package again.

My heart performed this odd little leap. Are you crazy? Forget this. No way was I waiting for my husband to get home. I couldn’t stand this one more minute.

In my head the violins soared and cymbals crashed. I imagined eager fans staying up all night to read this masterpiece, my first novel. On tiptoe with anticipation, I theatrically pulled a knife out of its wooden butcher block. Placed the blade against the top of the package. Held my breath.

And slit it open.

Read Part 37


C.J. Darlington said...

I think you made a wise decision to get away from the writing for a few days. Sometimes if you don't experience life, you won't be able to write. I had this happen recently, to a lesser degree, myself. I was eating, breathing, thinking, my novel, and it felt like I was pulling teeth when I'd sit down to work on it. I took two weeks off. It was such a refreshing experience. So ... you have my permission to go BACK to Nordstroms! I don't know how we expect to write when we don't actually go out and experience life. That's where our story ideas will come from.

I'm laughing you chose to use the name Williams for Paige. That's the last name of MY main character of my first book. A nice normal one, don't you think? :-)

Kelly K. said...

Brandilyn, I'm a little scared now!
I'm thinking seriously about the ACFW (or sort to proper acronym placement)conference this fall.
Will I have to come incognito? I don't want the papers to read - Best Selling Novelist Smacks Clueless Unknown in the Nose -
Fortunately Kelly is a nickname so I could assume a different identity.

I agree with C.J. Go back to Nordstroms, you deserve a little down time. Just make sure you take your bug spray and BEWARE of SPIDERS!!!!!!!!

Becky said...

Thanks for the detailed explanation about editing, Brandilyn. Much appreciated.

Also, you satisfied my curiosity about the new book, to a degree. I KNOW I would need some time in between series-ending book and series-starting book. Might be different if you already had the protag and minor characters clearly in mind. But to begin from scratch? Especially since you're really making, what, a four-book decision?

This segment of the NES is great! Your description of anticipating that first book is just as I imagine it. Sigh. Now to wait for Monday.

And Kelly, I'd urge you to go to the conference. I've been to two conferences where Brandilyn taught, and I didn't see her strike any conferees at either one! ; D I think you'll be safe.

Lynette Sowell said...

A very wise writer once told me I should figure out what my main character wants most of all. What's her goal? Also, there is a super book called Getting Into Character. Hopefully Paige will tell you where she wants to go! :) Sorry, I'm a bit punchy today. Tax time is overrrr! ~~Lynette

D. Gudger said...

Auugh! No wonder why you're a suspense writer! What? You found a five-pound block of solid tofu instead of your book?

Thanks for sharing your current process. That's really helpful to the unpublished-so-far folk like me.

Kelly, the MC in my novel is names Kisrie Kelley - KK! I made up the name Kisrie (she had to have more than one reason her peers teased her), and Kelley is a family name from my Nana.

D. Gudger said...

Oh, I guess I won't be shopping Nordstroms - I HATE spiders!

Thanks for clarifying the proposal questions.
Gotta get moving on my novel. It's too easy to find smaller projects or clean the litter box :0

Ron Estrada said...

Oh oh...let me finish it. You grabbed the $130 Cutco butcher knife and slit the paper. To your horror, a spider crawls out of the opening. Then two (let's go S. King with this), then thousands.

That's 'nuff of that. I don't want to suffer the same fate as Kelly. Hey, I checked out Randy I's website today. Great stuff. I ordered some of his recommended books, including yours. I just named a character Ben Williams. Any relation to Paige?

Lynette Sowell said...

Nix my comments from before. I just saw a spider lowering itself from the ceiling and heading towards ME. I have not seen a spider in our house in months. Brandilyn, you have eyes and legs everywhere!~~Lynette

mrsd said...

Lol at Lynette and Ron. :D

sally apokedak said...

I'm so happy the saga is continuing. It is so much fun to read.

I have one question about this installment, though. When have you ever had chubby little hands? HA!