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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Just had one of those happy writer days...

I've been flailing away at the plot for the next book, but it hasn't been going too well.  I did my usual stint of reading for a living and learned a lot about the Florida Keys, then the Deepwater Horizon blew and I decided I needed to write about that.  For a while, I thought I'd need to wait till the mess came ashore to pick a setting, but I've settled on extreme south Louisiana  near the mouth of the river. 

This was progress, and I tried to give myself a pat on the back for it, but I'm really happier when I see the pages stack up.  I've learned that the key to meeting deadlines is constant progress, even if it's small.  Last year, two of my children got married and my mother had near-constant serious health issues.  I asked my publisher to tell me the absolutely last, I-really-mean-it deadline, and they gave it to me, because I always make my deadlines.  It's a personality trait, but it also comes from years as an environmental consultant.  Your report is your only product.  It had better be on time, and it had better be perfect.

(After maybe ten years, I'm still preening over my agent's comment when she saw my first completed manuscript:  "This is the cleanest copy I have ever seen.")

So even with last year's constant turmoil, I sat at my computer every chance I got and wrote, even if I only produced a page or two.  When that "I-really-mean-it" deadline arrived, I had a book, a good book, and I still can't believe that it's the longest one I've ever written.  So, for those among you who are aspiring writers, the takeaway lesson here is you do have time, and you must write whenever you can.  Waiting for inspiration to strike  =  unpublished.  In my very humble opinion...

So here I am again, still trying to squeeze my work into the crannies of time my family responsibilities leave me.  I've spent a lot of time staring at my computer screen, typing a sentence or two, crawling over the web looking for those cool facts that spiff up a story, then typing another sentence or two.  I've spent time on the phone with my agent, and we came up with a new character who I love, a 16-year-old named Amande who reminds Faye of herself.  And as we adults know, sometimes we don't want such a clear-eyed look at ourselves, warts and all.

I still need to go back to south Louisiana, because it's been nearly thirty years since I was more than a half-hour south of New Orleans.  (Oh, boy...I'm gonna get to eat po-boys and creme brulee and beignets...)  But as of Friday, I have a functional outline for this thing and my agent likes it.  So that was a happy writer day.  She'll tell me Monday whether I need to twiddle with anything, or whether it's ready to send on to my editor.  And then the process will begin again...

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