Everything Books
Writing and reading and books, books, books (and anything that might relate)

February 10, 2012

Ten Good Things About Working (Really) Hard

Filed under: writing — Tags: , , , , — jennifer @ 11:50 am

As I emerge from the Excruciating Land of Copy Edits (14- to 16-hour days, every day for the past nine days), I think it’s time to stop feeling sorry for myself for not having a weekend last week (or, as is all too common, some weeks) or regular sleep or time to exercise, and think about the positive aspects of having such a busy schedule:

1. I am saving money on makeup and hair supplies and blow outs at the Dry Bar.

2. We are saving money on dining out, going out, and seeing movies.

3. I am getting to know intimately the Los Angeles Central Library, where I seem to be nearly every Saturday returning Hollywood-related books and checking out new ones.

4. I have lots of quality time with my cats.

5. We are really getting our money’s worth out of our apartment because we are in it all the time.

6. I am saving a good bit of money on gas and– a huge bonus– I almost never have to worry about traffic.

7. When I do go out for fun, I am hugely appreciative, much more so than any normal person. (It’s what I imagine being let out of prison feels like, except that I rarely feel imprisoned at my desk.)

8. I don’t have to hear about the upsetting things going on in the world because I don’t have time to read the news.

9. Because of all the practice, I am now the world’s fastest typist.

10. At the end of it all, I have a book I’m very proud of and that I’ve worked very hard for, so that I can look at its pages and see every long hour, every missed weekend, every drop of blood, sweat, tears, and love.

January 30, 2012

Behind the Book — The Copy Edits

Filed under: writing — Tags: , , , , , , — jennifer @ 11:53 am

It never fails. As soon as I start building up momentum (the research, the story, the outlining) on the new book– Velva Jean #4– I’m summoned back to Velva Jean #3– Becoming Clementine. Friday afternoon I received the copy edited manuscript of Clementine, which is due back to my editor February 6.

Just to recap what’s happened so far in the process:

In September of last year, I handed in the manuscript for Clementine (then titled Velva Jean Learns to Spy and, alternately, Velva Jean Goes to War).

While it was in my editor’s hands I began gathering research materials and resources for Velva Jean #4, her Hollywood adventure, which is due to my editor in September of this year.

In December of last year, my editor gave me her notes on Clementine, which I had a week to implement before returning the edited manuscript to her before Christmas.

Since the holidays, I’ve been researching and brainstorming Velva Jean #4.

My editor has since gone over Clementine again, adding more notes, making more cuts, and in the meantime it has also been in the hands of the copy editor. This past Friday, that version was sent to me, which means I have set Velva Jean #4 aside again as I work on Clementine.

The manuscript will go back to Penguin next Monday, and I will go back to 1940’s Hollywood.

I will see Becoming Clementine again before it’s published– after this, we will go through what’s called the First Pass and then the Second Pass. These rounds are primarily to check for typos in the printing and any last little changes. Any larger changes need to be made now, on the copy edited script.

Which means this is it, folks. One of the most important moments in a book’s life.

So I am hunkering down at my desk. I have bid farewell to my friends and my Hollywood notes and research, promising I will see them all next week after I’m through this, because it is pretty much a round-the-clock job. Not, mind you, because the book is in such dire shape right now– I actually think it’s in really good shape– but because I have to read and edit very carefully, knowing that this is the last time for the big stuff and one of the most important moments in a book’s life.

As writer Paul Theroux once said, “Writing is pretty crummy on the nerves.” I would like to second that. But, as nerve-inducing as this particular moment in the process is, it’s also exciting. After all, it’s just one step closer to publication…

December 21, 2011

Behind the Book — Letting the Manuscript Go

Filed under: writing — Tags: , , , — jennifer @ 11:49 am

Last Monday, I received the last of my editor’s notes on Velva Jean #3 (in which she finds herself spying in World War II), and, at my editor’s request, I have addressed her notes, big and small (cutting 26 pages in the process), and delivered the edited manuscript back to her by this morning. It was, as my mom likes to say, a creative miracle. Or maybe a Christmas miracle, I’m not sure. In either case, it’s off my desk for now and back in the hands of my publisher. The next step in the process will be copy editing which, thankfully, I won’t have to face until January.

When I first handed the book in, back in September, I experienced the same postpartum feelings I’d experienced with every other book: the worry (What if my editor hates it?), the listlessness (What will I do with myself now?), the exhaustion (How many months has it been since I slept?), the anxiety (What if no one wants to read it?), the feeling of loss and being lost and feeling purposeless after living, breathing, and sleeping the book for months and months, even though there was so much work stacked up and waiting.

This time around it’s easier. By this point– especially when you have such a fast turnaround time, as I did this past week– you’re pretty happy to see the manuscript go. You think: Thank God it’s on her desk and not mine! Thank God I don’t have to edit five more seconds right now. Thank God I have a break from it again!

Part of that is due to the fact that, creatively (mentally, emotionally, etc.), I’m ready for the next project. Part of it is due to the frenzied, frantic pace of meeting this deadline. And part of it is because, deep down, I feel it’s a good book. A really good book, and I feel good about sending it out into the world. Or, at least, to my editor again.

So now it’s time to go back to researching and outlining the fourth Velva Jean and, of course, to enjoy the fact that my mom is here from North Carolina and there is much merry-making (and gift wrapping and last-minute shopping and holiday partying) to be done. Bring on the Christmas cocktails!