Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The End...and the Beginning...

Yesterday at 4:00 p.m., California time, I finished the first draft of Spider Web. For a writer, finishing a novel (that is, the first draft) is both a monumental and minuscule moment. In reality, I finished writing the second to last chapter because I'd already written the last chapter (In this book's case, the epilogue. Don't ask me what is the difference between an epilogue and a last chapter, because I don't know. I called it an epilogue because it was three weeks later in the story. I actually have no idea, or care, what real epilogue rules are). To finish writing a book is monumental because when I start a novel it feels like such a daunting task (even after all these years) that I fear it will never get done. Minuscule because, really, in the course of world events and eternity, my little novel isn't all that important. Still, it is done. At least, first draft done.

So, I have nine days (counting today which I'm taking off to clean my office and house, do some laundry and play with the dog) to rewrite it once before sending it to my editor. The due date to my publisher in New York is July 15th (originally July 1st, but I begged for two more weeks). Then my editor reads it, gives me her opinion, and I do have a chance to rewrite it again. But, at least there is something to work with. That's the part that is a relief. For those of you wondering, Spider Web is another Benni Harper Ortiz novel and it will be published, God willing, May 2011.

I corresponded recently with someone who is thinking about writing his first novel. When someone is just starting as a writer, there's not a lot I can suggest except recommend some good writing books (I always suggest Stephen King's "On Writing" and John Steinbeck's "Journal of a Novel" as two of many helpful books for aspiring writers) and to give one observation/piece of advice. Whatever you start...try to finish. As I told him, I can't tell you how many first chapters/first one hundred pages of novels I've read over the last twenty to twenty-five years. For a beginning writer (or potter or painter or cabinetmaker or dog trainer or, or, or...) finishing a project is more than half the battle. Much more. Always starting and never finishing doesn't accomplish much in life or novels.

So, Spider Web is a complete story now. The manuscript will be soon in the hands of my publisher to start that journey to becoming a book that you will read either physically or, these days, in some kind of e-book form. For some reason, this book was even harder to write than the last (I think I say that every time, but I'm not exaggerating, as all working writers know, each book does get harder to write). I'm glad I have a year and a half to write my next one. I need some time to decompress, let the well fill back up and start that exercise regime I promised my doctor.

Hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July! I spend the day writing (of course), but did take a few minutes to stop and ponder those who have sacrificed so much so that Americans have the privilege of shooting off fireworks, cooking hot dogs and disagreeing with their government, if they so please. Thank you, men and women of the military! I salute you and pray that you all return home to your families safe and whole.

Will write more later. Just wanted to update. Have to get to my rewrite now. July 15th looms like a fiery dragon...

Happy Summertime Trails, Earlene