Jun 6 2010
Milestones and Monoliths
I passed another major milestone this weekend and, as milestones tend to do, it fell behind me in silence, unremarked by anyone except me and my publisher’s editorial staff… For an entire year, now, I have been working daily on writing, shaping and crafting another new novel, this one called “The Forest Laird”, and my entire life, everything I have done during that time, has revolved around the progress or lack of progress in that endeavour. But now it’s done. I sent it off to the publishers, all 230,000 words of it, on Thursday night. And so I thought I would mention the passing of the date here, simply to give it a modicum of significance.
I mentioned it to one of my neighbours , while we were having a glass of wine, and he asked me when the book would appear on the shelves. I told him it would late August or early September and he expressed surprise, since that is only about three months away and of course, he is right. But I’ve been submitting the manuscript in chunks, as I went along, and so the editing process is well in hand, the book has been designed for months now and the production process is solidly under way.
Normally, and especially for relatively unknown writers, the production process, including the editorial stages of preparation, takes a full year from submission of a finished manuscript to the publication of a new book. That’s how it was with me when I began my career, back in 1990, and it’s the same for everyone. After producing more than a dozen books with the same publisher, however, (which is, incidentally, something that relatively few fiction writers do) a certain flexibility develops and a working relationship evolves. My publishers now know I can be depended upon to generate the material and that I am not going to let them down, and so the entire process has been telescoped into a smoothly-functioning interaction that generates more books in less time. It works well, but it involves a mutual trust that has been established over years of reciprocal respect and tolerance.
The point I wanted to write about when I started this post, though, is that the book is not quite complete, because I still have to write the epilogue and I’m still kicking it around in my head like a soccer ball because I’m not yet absolutely certain what I want to say, or how I want to round this story off. That is unusual, even for me, because there have been times when I’ve begun to write the epilogue to a story before I’ve even climbed aboard the book itself. This time, though, it’s different . . . a whole ‘nuther ball game, as a friend of mine would say. This time, I could not even start to think about the epilogue before I finished the story because I literally did not know how the story was going to end… I finished it, then re-read what I had written and decided it was not what I wanted; not satisfying, and not right. So I did it again. Rewrote the entire final chapter and went through the same process. And then I did it again, four more times, so that by the time I did finally get it right, I felt like Robin Williams doing his standup riff on Golf… So now I know the ending . . . the right ending . . . and it’s done. Now I can write the epilogue. And that is exactly what I am going to do, as soon as I have finished this…
June 7, 2010 @ 3:54 am
June 7, 2010 @ 11:17 pm
Hi, Kat: Thanks for the good wishes.
The short answer to your question is "Yes!" It's like asking before the poor woman even gets out of the delivery room… And besides, I have still have to through the entire laborious process of the Line Edit, examining and, if necessary, correcting every minor glitch and errant or inconsistent punctuation mark the eagle-eyed Copy Editor detects. But that's part of the job and thank God it is, because otherwise all kinds of little Oopses would get in there.
June 8, 2010 @ 12:40 am
That said, I was wondering if you know how one of your books is destined to end when you begin writing it. I know how relieved I was when I discovered how mine ended because I was 80K words in at the time when it came to me. Do you have it all figured out when you start, or do you find yourself surprised occasionally?
June 8, 2010 @ 3:14 am
I was wondering what topic you would choose for your next series, William Wallcae, outstanding! I enjoyed the teaser, and can’t wait for the the complete book. Hopefully it will be ready for Christmas, my birthday would be better, sooner than Christmas by 3 months, but beggars can’t be choosers, as my Glasgow born mother often said.
Actually either works for me, as I either get the book as a Birthday gift or Christmas gift, OUTSTANDING!!
I know it’s early but do you think Penguin might set up a reading at Different Drummer, in Burlington?
June 8, 2010 @ 5:16 am
You were relieved to discover your ending when you were 80,000 words into your book… I was 200,000 words into this one and still didn't know how it was going to end, and I wrote the final section six times . . . that is six times, at roughly 20,000 words each time . . . before I was happy with it.
And even then, Murphy's Law being what it is (and dictating non-sequiturs the way it does) I only got it right in the end because I was driven into a corner and looking for a way out when I thought, "What if I were to try this, even though it doesn't feel right?" And so I tried it and it worked, much to my amazement. It's a very different kind of ending, but I'm happy with it. Hope you guys will be, too.
June 8, 2010 @ 5:05 pm
I like the one on this page better.
June 8, 2010 @ 7:15 pm
The new artwork featured here is the most recent, and the final cover will be a version of this treatment . . . still in development. The Amazon.com artwork is far out of date and I don't know where they got it in the first place. What they are showing is the very first draft of many subsequent treatments.
June 22, 2010 @ 6:17 am
I sincerely hope I’ll be able to get to Burlington, next time around, because I didn’t get there for the final novel in the Templars series. This time around, towards the end of this year, I’d like to rectify that. If it is possible, and I do get back to southern Ontario in the Fall of 2010, I’ll see you at the Different Drummer bookstore.