Sunday, December 2, 2007

Back from the TECH Wars

Hi Guys! C.T. Adams here.

Yeah, it's been a while. The computer was having FITS. In fact, the tech guy is scheduled to come out and do a complete overhaul. I'm trying to postpone buying a new machine another year or so until all the bugs have been worked out of the new Microsoft operating system. You can TELL me there are no bugs. I will not (unfortunately) believe you. There are always bugs. And I'm not willing to be a beta tester on my own dime. (Actually quite a few dimes!)

ANYWAY, I'm back. I hope you've missed me, but you've had lots of other people keeping you busy, so maybe not.

Hmmnnnnn what to talk about? All right. I've got it. THE BOOK.

No, not the ones we've got out, or even particulars of the ones Cathy and I are working on. No, this is THE BOOK. There's at least one in every writer's career. (I'm basing this on what I've read in other writer's blogs, and pre-blog era books on writing, biographies, etc.)

In every writer's career there is a book that simply KICKS YOUR BUTT.

It starts out like every other book you will write. The idea's good. The characters speak to you. BUT THIS IS A LURE, a trick to pull you in deep enough that you will be on deadline and unable to cut bait when (DA DA DUM) it grinds to a complete and total halt.

You put down words.

You delete them.

You put down other words.

They're dreck.

You delete THEM.

It's "writer's block", but then, again, it's not, because everything else you write comes trippingly off your fingers. You can do articles, short stories, other books. But this book, the important one, that you have to get done ON TIME, is stuck in what a friend refers to as "the swampy middle." You are in quicksand, and sinking fast. Despair quickly sets in. (With enough baggage for a long-term stay.)

Cat a/k/a Howling Moon did this to me. For several reasons. First, I had previously written the @#*$&*@ thing several times. It was originally the first book in the series. It was the one for which the world was built. But it was complicated as blazes, and there were problems (I was a beginning writer. New writers usually have problems in their manuscripts. Hell, OLD writers have problems. This is why there are editors.) Besides, a more gradual introduction to the world seemed adviseable. So, Tony came out first. Then Moon's Web. By the time Cat came around for publication there were existing tenets in the world that had changed and characters that were vital to the story had done things that weren't in character for the book as originally written---and were in other locations to boot. Oh, and people had been mentioned in other books doing things at specific times (including Cat, Raphael, Lucas, Tatyana, Ivan, Charles, Emma, Raven, and Jack) with reference made BACK to what was happening in Boulder. Those were already in print. Which meant they couldn't be changed.

SO, the book had to accommodate them.

Which meant that it had to start on a certain date, and run through another date, with full moons being the same dates as in previous books and everybody being in the right place at the right time.

It was a nightmare.

Just thinking about it now I shudder.

I had to work up a calendar chart with dates AND TIMES (and check sunrise and sunset times in the various cities the books were in), and put down where the characters previously written were when, then go back and schedule in when the events of the current book were going to happen, GIVING TIME FOR TRAVEL from place to place. Lucas was particularly pesky since he was a key character with major onscreen time in both Howling and Moon's Web. There is one day when he had to have a meeting in Boulder in the afternoon, then hop on a private plane and fly out to Chicago, to land at the private airport in Indiana to be met by Tony, Asri and Bobby in the evening before going hunting and finding the body. I had to time that day for him down to fifteen minute intervals. UGH!

Anyway, eventually the book got written, on time even (or within a week or two's extension, which ain't bad). In fact they usually do. But for a writer THAT BOOK is their own, personal torture, and I'm not sure about anyone else, but I know for me that, no matter how well it did, I'm not completely happy with it. Even writing about it now frustrates me. Which is sad, because those were the characters I loved enough to build a world around. That first book was the one where I "met" Lucas, and Ivan, and Charles. Raphael Ramirez was as dear to me as an old friend. Catherine started out as someone I could relate to all too well. (She changed over the course of re-writes into someone who I like well enough, but not nearly as well as the original). Holly is a sweetheart. Betty is stalwart. Ivan never fails to make me laugh. I should like the book well enough to revisit it happily. That I don't is a damned shame.

I understand that there are writers out there who have actually given up on the whole career because of THAT BOOK. I hate to think that. Some of our best work is still coming post-Howling. The last two books in the Thrall series are probably among the best things I've done (Yeah, I know, some people just can't stand that series. That's okay. No book is going to appeal to everyone. I'm okay with that. Read what you love. I love Katie, and Tom, and the guys, and am happy with how it turned out.)

How do you get through it? How do you keep from letting it sour you on writing altogether?

Other writers.

Writing groups, critique partners, reading other writer's blogs. In my case, it was thanks in big part to my co-author and a really terrific editor. In talking to them you find out what did and didn't work. Maybe you find out where the plot took a left turn, or get an idea for a new character that refocuses the story in a direction that excites you. But talking to other people who have gotten through it can give you hope, and ideas, throwing you that lifeline that you can use to haul yourself out of the quicksand and get you back onto solid ground.

And while you may never love THAT BOOK, there is a definite satisfaction in seeing it on the shelf and knowing that, while it kicked your butt, in the long run, YOU WON.


Blogger Carolyn Jean said...

Yikes! I didn't know about THAT BOOK. But it only makes sense. Thanks for the post.

December 2, 2007 at 11:12 AM  

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