I saw Brad Thor, the novelist, interviewed the other morning. He’s a very successful thriller writer and, while I’m not a big thriller fan, I absolutely respect his professionalism and success.
Some of you know that I finished edits on a large manuscript about 6-months ago – a project several years in the making that we’re just now getting out to a small team of ‘readers’ for feedback. What you may not know is that finishing up on that book opened up some time for me to get back to another one – what I call a ‘children’s book for adults’ that I first got the idea for back in 2006. I’d been poking and picking at it over the past few years, but really was concentrating on the big book, my own commercial writing (aka my job), and raising a family. Suddenly I had a bit of time and when I got back to it, something serendipitous had happened: the book seemed ready to be written. I seemed to be in the right headspace to really go after it. And our political and economic times seem to have (d)evolved to a point where, I think, it’s exceptionally relevant.
Quite frankly, I’ve been on fire with this one. And, about 3 weeks ago, it felt as if some enormous hand (and yes, this is the only way I can describe it) grabbed the back of my shirt and commanded ‘get that done!’.
Weird, huh? I’ve spoken with other writers over the years, though, and some have told me of a similar, sudden compulsion to get something done, so it’s probably not unprecedented. And that I should listen to it.
Right now, it’s every night, often ’til about 2 am, and then hit it again in the morning at 8 (after coffee, of course). Shorts, T-shirt, ball cap, pencil.
Funny, but when I started off writing a very long time ago I had an idea of what writing a book must be like. It’s probably similar to what one might think any profession must be like – a nice picture in which you’re confident – until you actually get inside of the job for awhile. My ‘idea’ of writing involved sitting down at a fairly orderly desk, typing page after page of my manuscript – which would be stacked in a nice little pile, free of errors – and, after a time, I’d deliver the entire thing to my waiting editor and publisher.
I haven’t thought that way for a long time.
So, back to Mr. Thor, who is extremely photogenic, articulate and well-kept like so many press-photo writers these days. After watching him, I wondered what his writing process was like. I like to think it’s neater, more scheduled and clearly more efficient than mine, but he’s a writer, so I wonder. My guess is he outlines meticulously.
This morning I tried to escape the home office and get to work a little earlier. Then the Big Hand grabbed me, once again.
I wrote two pages on the backs of envelopes stolen from a pile of mail that was sitting on the kitchen counter. I had to.
I don’t know if Mr. Thor does that, but my suspicion if that a writer like Neil Gaiman (whose work I love), just might. Maybe it’s the perceived difference between passion and commercialism.. Maybe it’s the way they present themselves.
Or, more likely, it’s just my perception.
Anyway, the current book is broken into twenty some odd chunks on a table next to my desk so I can look at each section individually and not to be overwhelmed (see pic below). The desk next to it is filled with pencils, paper scraps and legal pads. It’s almost done.
They say Look Homeward, Angel wound up being carted in to the editors office in six boxes. I’m not that bad.
Hopefully, I’m that good.