Cam’s books is done – it’s the one due out after the third book in the SEAL trilogy, tentatively titled, Don’t Look Back. Although I hesitate to use the word done, because that seems…wrong. I can’t say the first draft is done because it’s really not a first draft. The first pass, maybe? The one that I send to my editor with the highest of hopes (mainly that she doesn’t hate it – I’m never under any illusions about revisions – I need them) and the one that ultimately comes winging back to me in less than a few weeks time like a returning houseguest who eats all your food and orders payperview movies on your credit card but doesn’t want to actually give you anything in return.
Some books are like that. Most of them are. And so I’ll revise and send, revise and send, but for now, the book is done. And when I finished, I honestly couldn’t see straight. Larissa and I also completed the Sydney short story that will appear in the Mammoth Book of Special Ops (Pub Date TBA).
And even thought I was spinning, and I left my computer behind to go hang out outside with Zoo and the kid and the dog, convinced I was taking the rest of the day off, a few hours later, I felt it. The niggling in my brain of the story I’d pushed aside. It was saying, you’ve got some brand new Claire Fontaine notebooks waiting for you. And nothing to do for an entire day.
So I wrote about 2K on the story – it’s one that will probably be just for me and that’s okay. My way of refilling the well. Of letting my muse know that she gets to tell me what to do and I usually like it. Because I’m not one of those, there is no muse, I just sit down and write people.
I recently read this great story about Alice Walker, about how she was given a grant and a year’s sabbatical to write, The Color Purple. And for something like eleven months, she sat in a vacation house and she knit. And knit. And knit. And didn’t write. And the grant people were getting very nervous because the was no writing there.
But when she did finally write, the story was there in front of her. She simply had to let it grow before she could start. Really, the writing was happening – it just didn’t happen on the page.
My writing works very much the same way. I might have a deadline that’s six months out – and I’ll definitely tinker. And write scenes here and there and collect music and just think. And then I begin to panic when I can’t or don’t write on it. Inevitably, the month before it’s due is when the writing gets done.
Is that the best way to work? Absolutely not. Is it my way? Absolutely. It’s my process. It scares me and it humbles me every time I write a book. Sometimes I think, I can’t pull this one out of the fire – nothing’s happening. But somehow, the muse arrives. Granted, I do think the real work is in the revisions, but that first pass, that’s the storytelling draft. The one the muse and I want to write – if we don’t put it all down, we’ll never be satisfied, always wondering, what if...