Friday, May 22, 2009

Writing Journey: Part XVI

(I'm not going to link all the other parts anymore. Just click on the "Writers Journey" label to read them!)

Last time in this series, I talked about when the idea for Tower of Strength hit me like a bolt of lightning . . . and then how I had to wait a week to begin it.

For this book, the original drafting was pretty enjoyable. I had a lot of fun writing about Tabitha and Samuel individually as well as together. They both had some fascinating issues that I'd never explored before.

As always, though, a few moments crept in that gave me fits when my critique group saw them. I remember having to rewrite one scene (the one where Will sort of wrecks the printing room) several times to make it work. I've since heard from several readers that it's one of their favorites. (So yay for revisions!)

One big problem I ran into is something I've mentioned several times before, but THIS POST was my biggest rant over it.

This challenge began when I discovered (yes, I discovered it . . . I didn't make it up) that a horse would be a major part of the story.

Holy hannah.

Might as well tell me to write about the life of the jellyfish.

I remember sitting on the couch next to my husband, feeling pale-faced, and telling him, "I just found out that I have to do a ton of research for my new book. Crap!"

(He's used to living with a weird writer. This didn't faze him. I believe he patted my knee and said, "Good luck.")

So I hit the Internet for research with a vengeance. Many a time, I consulted a friend who grew up with horses.

I swear, those horse scenes gave me the biggest stress of the entire book. I rewrote and rewrote and rethought and at times had to restructure and replot, and at times wanted to torch the whole darn thing. But that part of the story became integral to everything else. I couldn't cut it.

Plus, one of the last horse scenes came to me very early on (the one where Samuel comes into the stall when Tabitha's already there . . . trying not to give spoilers here). I wrote it right away and then the rest of the drafting worked toward that scene. It belonged in the book.

Okay, then. Horses it is.

My horse-guru friend told me several things one day that she read weeks later in draft form and insisted were wrong. But I didn't invent them; there's no way I could have, because I didn't know a lick about horses. I'd gone off what she'd told me. But it was still wrong. I had to rewrite. Again.

To be on the safe side, I sent the final manuscript to yet another horse person for verification, and they caught a few more minor things (thankfully, nothing majorly significant that required hair-pulling revisions) to help me get it right (at least I hope). Phew.

Then I had a couple of critique friends read the whole thing front to back. They pointed out some flaws and holes. As always, they were right; I needed to fill in a few spots. (It's complete in my head . . . why doesn't it just come out on the page that way?!)

I turned it in and hoped for the best. This time, I was particularly nervous, because I was in the hands of a new editor. He wasn't new at editing by any means, but he was new to me.

I'd been exceeding lucky in that I'd had the same, very talented editor, Angela, for five books in a row. I trusted her judgment implicitly. She'd held my hand and talked me off many a wall and went to bat for me lots of times.

Plus, I'm not a person who deals well with change. So as grateful that I was to be handed over to Kirk (who I'd heard great things about), I was anxious about what the editing process would be like with someone else.

After the book was accepted, Kirk called. He asked if we could schedule a phone conference to discuss revisions.

Gulp. I'd never had an editorial phone conference. I mean, sure, Angela had called a few times here and there to clarify sentences or to ask a question about something small, but we'd never had a . . . DUN-DUN-DUN REWRITES DISCUSSION.

Did this mean there would be massive changes to make? I didn't think my nerves could handle another round of major rewrites of the likes I'd gone through with Spires.

I tried to sound all chipper when we scheduled it, but inside, I was an inch away from freaking out.


Note:
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14 comments:

Heather B. Moore said...

Ah! Don't leave us hanging!(fortunately I know the outcome of that conversation, so I'll sleep tonight . . . .)

Lara said...

I think I would freak out about such a conference, too.

I do love to research things,though. It always fascinates me to read the acknowledgments at the beginning of a novel and see how much research had to be done on a particular subject. I don't know how many people realize that of authors! Go you!

Chas Hathaway said...

Gah... editing, editing, editing. Makes me want to forget the marketing world and write just for fun... on the streets.

But I guess the fruits in the end make the editing worth it!

Thanks for sharing your story!

- Chas
http://chas.willowrise.com

Heatherlyn said...

Nice cliff hanger.

You are blessed to have honest and intelligent people to give you feedback. Obviously it really makes a difference.

I've heard that authors discover stories. It sounds like that is what happened with your horse. :)

Kristina P. said...

What a great cliffhanger! You should be a writer or something.

Melanie J said...

So basically I should just write only what I know and that way I never have to do any research?

Too late for me, though. I've done some hours of research on surfing already. If I were hardcore, I'd actually try it. But I'm not much of a swimmer, so I don't think so.

Carolyn V. said...

I got my book today! Hurray!!!

As for the horse, all I know is that they attract flies, and I've been bucked of twice in my life. I think that is plenty. =)

Kimberly said...

You have me on the edge of my seat yet again!

Shauna said...

Hope you have a super weekend!
♥ HUGS ♥

Mikki said...

Can't wait to hear the next part of this tale.There sure is a lot involved in writing a novel.

Fiauna said...

It's so great of you to share this journey. As an aspiring writer myself, it's nice to read the stories of those who have found success. Keep up the awesome work.

LexiconLuvr said...

I grew up riding a horse. In fact, I'm pretty sure my mom rode while pregnant with me. =]

Way to leave a cliffhanger! I want to know all about the meeting!!

Barbaloot said...

I love hearing about when writers explain that the stories write themselves...or the characters have a mind of their own. So amazing:)

Luisa Perkins said...

One of the many things I love about the way you have handled this Writer's Journey series is that you dispel the glamorous myth of Writer as Automaton with Muse Dictating from Writer's Shoulder. You're willing to show us the blood and sweat and sometimes tears that you pour into each one of your creations.

Yes, you're enormously talented, but so are a lot of unpublished writers. What sets you apart is your diligence and perseverance and plain old hard work. That, and the fact that you are willing to listen to and incorporate the feedback of your peers--these are qualities that are all too rare.

Coming Soon: Firsts and Lasts

UPDATE: Firsts and Lasts is now live as an ebook, and it'll soon be available in paperback as wel! Get the ebook HERE . I've got s...