Working alone

I just got back from a few days alone at the Cape, where I was wrestling my latest manuscript into submission (it’s getting there, though it’s a stubborn beastie. A lot of my books are). Anyway, some of you asked what it’s like to write for a living, so here’s a little peek into my time there.

 

  1. Arrive at our little house. Greet it. “Hi, House! Did you miss me?”
  2. Make bed and revel in solitude. “I’m alone! I’m alone!” Call family to tell them I miss them. Both emotions are genuine.
  3. Open the old laptop. Skim through what I have already.
  4. Despair.
  5. Bolster self. “How many times have we thought a book sucked? Lots! Just keep going. You can fix it later.”
  6. Write.
  7. Turn on light after the realization hits me that it’s dark all of a sudden.
  8. Drink glass of wine for health purposes.
  9. Talk out loud as characters.
  10. Engage in vigorous argument with characters. Dash down good lines.
  11. Start to fall in love with hero. Sigh!
  12. Lock doors so serial killers don’t get me.
  13. Pull shades so serial killers can’t see me.
  14. Remind self that I’m in one of the safest towns in America.
  15. Write some more.
  16. Go to bed— I’m alone! This is fun!— and sleep in starfish formation, taking up entire queen-size mattress.
  17. Wake up early, start coffee, open laptop. Repeat steps 3-10.
  18. Go out to dinner. Read. Return home. Watch Hannibal on TV.
    Repeat steps 12-15.

When it was time to go home, I’d written about 70 new pages in two and a half days. I knew my characters much better than when I’d started, and have a lot more faith in the book than I did on Monday. I packed up, cleaned up and stood in the doorway once more. “Bye, Dad,” I said, because my late father bought this house for us when I was little, and I always feel close to him when I’m there. “Bye, House. Thank you!”

And three and a half hours later, I was smooching my kids once more. : )

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