Birth of the Book

Something very strange happens when I write a book. I don’t know about other authors, but I generally have a love/hate/love relationships with my books. I usually start with a one-line idea…a woman agrees to marry a guy she doesn’t know too well because she feels her options are limited, for example. (That’s the concept for The Perfect Match, out this October, by the way.)

Then I outline. Scenes leap to mind, and I dash them down. The characters start to form, and I’m all on fire with the idea…Yeah, and then they could do this! And then it would be so bad if…yes, and they could…no, not that! This! Yes! It’s really fun!

Alas, next comes the first draft. I hate writing first drafts. About a hundred pages in, I start to despair. I say to McIrish, “This book is terrible. No one will want to read it. I’m washed up, I have nothing, my career is over, I guess I should try bartending, huh?” He pats me on the shoulder and goes out to buy some emergency Ben & Jerry’s.

I soldier through, remind myself that in the 12 books I’ve written, I’ve felt this way, oh…twelve times. ; )  Around page 265, I start to truly understand what the book is about—being chosen. Forgiveness. Self-actualization. Ah, I think. I’m so deep!

The rest of the book goes better, though it’s sloppy, full of repetition and needless scenes. I tend to overwrite; my latest first draft was 120,000 words, about 20,000 more than most mass market books. (I’ll trim it down, I promise).

And then, finally, I read the dang thing all the way through. Something magical happens then. I think, “Hey. You know what? This isn’t so bad! It’s even…pretty good!”

Onto revisions, my favorite part. This is when the manuscript becomes a book. But that’s another story.

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