Whenever anyone asks me “how’s the book coming?” or “when’s the book going to be done?”, instead of merely smiling politely and repeating “soon” as confidently as possible, what I really want to do is explain the situation. In detail. Please don’t misunderstand, I am thrilled that anyone is still interested enough to ask the question in the first place. This post is for them, as well as anyone else following along as we try to give some incite into what our process has been, is, and will be.
“One of our first mistakes was foolishly believing that we had enough words and time under our belt we could easily make the leap to a novel(s).”
This was arguably the biggest mistake that we made. In the immortal word of Julia Roberts, “Huge”. Writing together in other forums was what convinced us that we could “do this”. Surely it would be easy-peasy to translate that treasure trove of material into a book, right? Wrong-o Marylou.
Of the three of us, it was determined, I had the most material, the larger number of characters and what we believed to be a fleshed out plot. Therefore, we decided that “my” book, would be first. We immediately set to work. I began to adapt reams I already had, sending chunks to my co-writers for additions and feedback. When we were able to physically get together the first time with this new project, we story-boarded, outlined and edited. We worked hard. We did this for a year.
“Vision: Many times we were rowing away only to discover we are rowing in three different directions, the boat ain’t moving and we’re taking on water.”
None of us were experienced rowers. And our boat had no GPS. It wasn’t until the next “retreat” that it struck us that we were rowing the “wrong” boat, writing the wrong book. Our boat had been moving in circles and, to mix my metaphors, we were trying to cram a square peg into a round hole.
Once we were able (okay fine. Me. When I was able) to see that, it was a lot easier to chart our course. The book we initially thought should be number three, is now the first. The subplots of that book will flow into number two and take the lead, etc. My book is now number three. I have no problem with that. It makes sense (and we have confidence it will to you, too, dear reader, once we’re through). I have three quarters of a book already in the works. Number three will be a piece of cake! Maybe. Probably not. By the time we get there, it might still be a square peg.
“Ego. Pride. Vanity. They will pull your work under if not kept in check.”
Let it go.
This was a hard one for me. That wealth of material I spoke of earlier represents a lot of time, energy and spent emotion. It was all “my darlings”. Consequently, it took quite a while for the concept to sink in that just because a line, chapter, character or subplot gets cut or doesn’t work for this book, doesn’t mean it never will. Our focus may have changed from where it was when we started (and I continue to be very excited about where these books are taking us), and the words I’ve already written may not enhance the new vision, but it doesn’t mean they have to go down the chute. The characters I’ve come to know and love aren’t necessarily gone forever. They will all still be waiting (provided I’ve properly saved them, of course) if I find I have need of them. It’s a big world full of a lot of words I haven’t strung together yet. It’s okay if I move on.
I hope I’ve managed to clarify, to some degree, how we got to where we are today. To throw another metaphor onto the pile, we’re very aware that we’ve got three very large elephants to eat and we are doing it one bite at a time and chewing thoroughly. We hope you’ll continue to ask, “are you there yet?”
What about you? Have your team projects all been smooth sailing or have you found yourself missing a rudder?