So I’m finally lifting my head and taking a look around, after almost two months of feebleness. My first-ever case of bronchitis laid me low for far too long. As in, “Hey, I missed Spring,” too long.
Somehow, in the midst of all the coughing, my second novel, Every Last Stitch, was completed and is about to become a paperback reality. I’m trying to decide if my teacher and mentor, Josh Langston, is right when he says each subsequent novel becomes easier to write. I’ve picked up some good tips from his writing classes: write chapters in sequence so you don’t have to cobble it all together at the end; keep track of what’s in each chapter so you can find scenes again; list your characters’ names and traits because you’ll forget they are 85, Hispanic and have blue hair, and make them something else on page 85. But I still prefer writing without an outline. I’m as surprised as anyone at how some of the characters act. And I’m fairly undisciplined about sitting down and plugging away at it every day. That seems too much like a job. Don’t want a job.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Kill your darlings?” Your children are actually safe; it refers to the darlings that writers foster – that phrase that is so right, that allusion that says it perfectly, that cover illustration that knocks it out of the park. Only it doesn’t. Darlings, by definition, don’t work. It’s wrenching to say the final sayonara and cut ‘em loose. I had a darling with Stitches. It was a photograph for the cover that was just…so…perfect. A friend took several shots, all good, and I was in love with the image she captured. But no matter how we fiddled and jiggered it around, it just didn’t work. The new cover, designed by Josh, who is a cover-designin’ genius, is better. I know that. Still, I grieve a little bit for my lost darling.
An enormous thank you, and you, and you, to the first readers who read and critiqued the various versions of my manuscript online. (Personally, I don’t take kindly to reading online. I much prefer turning pages and jotting little notes in the margins with a pen. I also like cave drawings and dinosaurs. Tough luck for me, right?) I know my readers gave me a major gift of time, laced with aggravation, along with their good feedback. I’m grateful.
And finally, kudos and tons of thanks to Josh (see “genius” above), owner and operator of Janda Books, who critiqued, formatted and designed with his usual good humor and patience. There will be a special place for him in Writers’ Heaven, with no deadlines, no authors nipping at his heels, and no computer glitches. Until then, may his life on Earth be heavenly.
As soon as Every Last Stitch hits Amazon books, I’ll let you know. I hope you’ll read it and tell me what you think.