by Barbara Ross
in beautiful Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Hi all. I’m in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, finishing up the manuscript for Boiled Over, the second book in my Maine Clambake Mystery series, due to my editor on September 1.
I don’t mind telling you, this one has been a bear. Maybe it was the sophomore jinx. This isn’t my second book, but it’s my first second book in a series. Or maybe it was some trying personal circumstances under which this book was written.
But the biggest issue has been–it took the longest time for me to fall in love with this book.
Oh, I loved the idea. And the story and characters. And I loved the theme of insiderness and outsiderness, fitting in and being accepted.
But I didn’t love the book. I kept waiting for it to happen. The longer it went on without happening, the more scared I became that it wouldn’t happen.
Oh, there were frissons. Moments of flirtation, even infatuation. When I discovered a secondary character’s story perfectly supported the plot and theme. When a role in the story I’d been writing around became a character who fit here, and here and here. The subconscious is a wondrous thing.
But I still didn’t love the book.
I remember exactly the moment when I fell in love with Clammed Up, the first book in the series. It was when I finally mapped out the last half dozen scenes. I fell in love in that moment. Even though the scenes didn’t yet exist on paper. Even though I had no idea if I could execute them. My love affair with that book began that day and continues to this–a week away from publication.
So when I sailed past that point and then some with Boiled Over, past the completion of the first draft, well into the second, I began to panic. Oh no, I thought. I’m never going to love this book. And I’m going to have to put a smile on my face and sell it, just like those poor movie stars you see on talk shows shilling for movies you can tell they hate.
Panic, as we all know, is not conducive to love. Or to writing. But I had a deadline, so I soldiered on.
And, like so many things in writing, soldiering on worked. One day, deep, deep in the second draft, a scene I’d had in my head since March was suddenly not only on paper, but it had a place where it fit in the manuscript and a purpose both in terms of the plot and the theme. It was like the center pole of the tent had been missing, and now that it was up and in the right place, the shape, previously nondescript and sagging, revealed itself.
I fell in love.
I won’t kid you, there’s still a lot to do. The next six days are going to be brutal. But as in every part of life, the work is so much easier when it’s tempered by love.
I love this post, Barb. And it’s so true – you need to love your creation, whatever it might be. That’s the tricky thing about having a contract, as wonderful as that is: you have to finish the book even if you don’t love it. I didn’t realize how long it had taken you with this one! Glad it finally happened.
You had me at “Excuse me!” Very interesting to read that you didn’t love it right away! And Edith is right — the pressure of the contract changes things.
Great post. Hang in there this week!
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