Wednesday, June 09, 2010

22nd Book Done--And I'm Not OVER THE EDGE


On Sunday I emailed off my latest book, Over the Edge, my novel about Lyme. Ah, the relief of turning in a manuscript! The routine was the same as always. I hit the send button, then got on my knees and thanked God for helping me through another one. This one is my 22nd. (And the first book in my new contract with B&H.)

Of course I don't consider the book done. This is just the first go-round with the editor. Karen Ball will be looking it over and will send me her macro edit letter in July. Then it's rewrite time.

I've realized something lately. It's taken me ten years and twice that many books to really begin to settle into the writing process. This year marks the beginning of my second decade as a full-time novelist. It never fails--while I'm writing a book: (1) I'm worried that it's boring, and (2) When I turn in the manuscript I just know it's awful. Last year as I finished my 20th book, Deceit (releasing in two weeks) I had that same sinking feeling. The editor would be so disappointed in me. The rewrite would be huge. The manuscript had all kinds of weaknesses. When I heard from my editor for that book (a freelancer and former editor at a publishing house who's edited countless books), she said, "It's great. One of the cleanest manuscripts I've ever seen." I was stunned. Really stunned. Now, this certainly hasn't been the case with every manuscript of mine. Others have needed more rewriting. But this occurrence finally brought home to me--clearly I'm a slow learner--that I'm simply incapable of judging my work when it's newly finished. I've been too close to it for too long.

So, in writing my 21st book (Final Touch, last book in the Rayne Tour series, just released), and now in writing Over the Edge I somehow have managed to relax more in the process. I didn't really doubt myself any less. But I can now pull back from that doubt and realize it's part of the process in writing a manuscript. I am going to feel it's terrible. Okay, fine. That doesn't mean it is. I do know a few things about writing a novel. If there are specific issues with a manuscript that are bothering me, I'll think of a way to fix them. So, Brandilyn, no need to kick cabinets. Relax.

Another great help has been my verse for this year--and probably the rest of my life. Psalm 138:8--The Lord will accomplish what concerns you. He will accomplish the finalizing of this manuscript as He has all the others. So if it needs work in a rewrite--so what? With God's help, I'll strengthen the story then.

Meanwhile, for the past month or so, my new blog, Lyme-Over the Edge has been running. About four stories a week have been posted. Have you read any of them? Man. You should. If you don't know anything about Lyme--or even if you think you do--you'll be amazed at what these courageous people have gone through. Story after story about terrible illness, doctors who misdiagnose (or tell them it's all in their heads), and the battle to fight the disease once the diagnosis finally does come.

Over the Edge will release in May 2011.

17 comments:

Annette W. said...

What a compliment that it's the cleanest manuscript your editor has ever seen. Obviously, writing about Lyme comes from your heart.

Congratulations on a completed manuscript and Deceit's release!

Kathy C. said...

I am getting so close to a deadline that I'm starting to panic. 365 devvs for Tyndale. I want to finish it by the 23rd. We're leaving several days early for ICRS and want it sent by then.

Can't wait to see what you're signing at ICRS. My teens are hoping you're signing Rayne 3.

Liberty Speidel said...

What an accomplishment! :) Congratulations!

Question: what version are you taking the Psalm verse from? And is what you said literal or read into? That's the type of verse I'd like to latch onto and write where I'll see it everyday, but when I looked up the reference, it didn't read the way you had written it. :)

Thanks!

~ Brandilyn Collins said...

Kathy, yes, I'm signing Rayne Tour #3--Final Touch

Liberty, I always use the NASB--New American Standard. It's a word for word translation and has such beautiful language.

Anonymous said...

Brandilyn, thank you for this post. I have been struggling with something lately, and then this morning I see things both in your post and in another post that speak directly to my situation. Maybe God's trying to tell me something? I don't know.

Um, I looked up the verse you gave in the NASB, and it's completely different from what you wrote. Could you please check and make sure you have the correct reference? I'd love to be able to underline this in my Bible.

~Sasafras

~ Brandilyn Collins said...

Sasafras, I'm so glad to know this post helped you. And thank you for pointing out my typo. Guess I got going too fast. It's the first part of Psalm 138:8. I'll fill it in the post.

Nicole said...

Do not doubt His hand on your work. You minister in word and deed, entertainment and laughter, in sickness and in health.

Readers, you'll love Deceit. Vintage Brandilyn.

Miriam Cheney said...

So encouraging to know I'm not the only one who doubts and questions the story as I write ... and this insight from an accomplished writer! It's all such a walk of faith, isn't it? Regardless of the outcome, I walk/write on.

Ginny L. Yttrup said...

Brandilyn, thank you for this post. I'm writing my second novel and just beginning the editing process with Karen on my first novel. It is comforting to know that the doubts I feel aren't uncommon and may even linger through my 22nd novel! Thank you for your transparency...

Enjoy your upcoming tour with the B&H gang!

Linda Glaz said...

You certainly stay busy and I'm so glad. My mother-in-law is already pestering me for another book. I started her on Janet Evanovich's series and she said, "yeah, it's okay, but I don't feel like I have to keep reading." You're a wonderful writer, keep up the good work

C.J. Darlington said...

Thanks for these words, Brandilyn. Helps me a lot right now as the manuscript I'm currently writing has been so much harder, probably because I'm doubting myself all over the place. I kept thinking the same things you did---it's boring, it's awful, I'll never be able to write it. So knowing that's normal and not to be trusted at this stage in the process helps me a lot!

Edwina said...

Congratulatons on your 22nd book and your ten year anniversary!

It is evident that God leads you in the path He wants you to go and that He truly does "perfect those things which concern you."

Blessings!

Michael K. Reynolds said...

Congratulations Brandilyn!

I'm really thrilled for you. You're an inspiration to those of us wishing to follow down a similar road.

Well done.

Lynette Sowell said...

Congratulations for finishing, and for starting your second decade. Wow? Really? It's been 10 years?? Wowser. Thank you for all you have done for writers and being such an encourager. :)

Cecelia Dowdy said...

Congrats on finishing your 22nd book! You're starting your second decade as a full-time writer? Most writers only dream of being able to make a living from writing!

katiejohnsonwriter.com said...

Great post! I'm revising a book that I wrote "awhile" ago and when I left it, I thought it was just limping along. As I edit now, I'm delighted by the characters, the storyline and the dialog. I wonder if it is possible to get enough distance from your work? It's so hard to be impartial when it's ME I'm judging. Thanks for the post :-)

~ Brandilyn Collins said...

Katie, for me that crucial "distancing" from my work comes as a result of stepping away from it for a month or two after I've turned it in to my editor. By the time I receive the editor's macro letter for rewrite, I can see the manuscript with fresh eyes, including flaws I couldn't see before.