I've disappeared from view lately because I made myself a vow: write every day until my current book is finished. I'm sorry to say that didn't exactly happen, but you know what they say about aiming high ... you can miss the mark and still do pretty well. So in the last 60 days or so, I probably missed 5 days of writing and turned out a 72,000-word novel.
I'm such a tool that I didn't even give myself one full celebratory beer before the "to do" list started piling up. My half-empty beer is sitting next to me right now, in fact. The problem is there's an enormous gap right now between what this book COULD be and what this book IS. I think it COULD be a wonderful, funny, fast-paced, original, and thematically interesting book. It IS a steaming pile of problems at the moment.
Let's not even get into it.
But it's also book #8. It's kind of hard to believe ... I've finished eight full-length novels. That's eight. A tiny bookshelf. I've published exactly zero of them, but I'm not getting into that either.
Anyway, in honor of #8, I thought I'd look back on the ones that came before.
Book #1: Totally autobiographical. Full of self-regard and purple prose. Is there a plot in here somewhere?
Book #2: A doorstop—120,000 words written in seven weeks. Maybe three redeemable scenes and one scene that caused my crit group to question my masculinity.
Book #3: A dirty secret. We don't talk about book #3.
Book #4: A medium-sized leap forward. Sure, it took three years to write, and it suffered from one character who was so toxic that one agent remarked, "I had to set it down when she showed up." Also, this book was the seed for book #7. It contains the idea that has become my own great white whale.
Book #5. A giant leap forward. Plot? Yes. Hook? Yes. Characters? Okay, not so much. But still ... I love you, book #5. You almost made an honest man out of me. We almost went all the way, baby, and I want you to know that despite the crushing rejection we suffered at the end, I still believe deeply in you.
Book #6: Boy, did I love this idea. And boy, did I love writing this one. And book six, I think I did wrong by you. I know you attracted attention from a major publisher, but I think the editor didn't understand you. I'm sorry now that I tried to change you to fit her vision. It was a bad fit, and my heart wasn't in it. Murph, my little buddy, go rebel all you want.
Book #7: A misfire. I went back to the idea from book #4 and tried to write it again—same mythology, same backstory. And while the setting was my best yet, the book itself did not work. A giant step back. I didn't even bother to query this one.
Which brings me all the way back up to this afternoon and book #8 with its pile of rewrite notes. And now I hope you'll forgive me for signing off—I'm finally feeling like there's some celebratory drinking I should be doing.