Wednesday, March 2, 2011

CKR: January 2007

(continued from November-December 2006...)


“CKR” Diary Post No. 15
January 11, 2007
I worked last night as late as I dared (about 11:00), but didn’t quite finish Chapter 2. So this morning, I knocked that out of the way first, then went on to re-write Chapters 3 and 4. The transition from third-person to first-person isn’t taking near the time I thought it would, but I have a feeling the task will get more difficult after Chapter 10. That’s as far as I got on the original re-writes. Everything from Chapter 11 on is a stone cold first draft.

Because you’re so good to me, here’s an excerpt from Chapter 2:


Thinking about marriage and trysts and the friends that stick around through both, I maneuvered the lamp-lit streets with one hand on the wheel and the other hanging out the window, clutching a Marlboro. In the back seat, a package slid with every turn and I wondered how many more days of listening to the box in the plastic bag slide back and forth I’d have to subject myself to before I finally remembered to take it out of the car.

The drive I had almost a year ago—WOW, time flies—isn’t nearly as obnoxious as it was when this story first took up residence in my head. But it is still, most assuredly, right here with me. Once the entire first draft was finished, my focus changed from getting the story down to tightening it up. It has to be flawless in style, pacing, consistency, format, and every other literary detail before I even THINK about looking for an agent to help me sell it to a publisher. Without a built-in audience, no one in this business will take on an author who’s planning on finishing their manuscript soon, in the near future…maybe. Agents and publishers want a book, a completed book, so they can sell it and make money. Hopefully lots of money. Otherwise, why would they assume the risks and the costs of printing and promotion?

The plan for tomorrow (Friday) is to finish Chapter 5 and start (maybe finish) Chapter 6. At this rate, if I’m able to dedicate at least three days a week to this book, I shouldn’t have any problem finishing it by the end of February. But I’m not rushing. As eager as I am to start shopping CKR around, I’d like for this to be my last re-write—for real!—so I’d rather take the time I need to get it right. Bottom line is: There’s a lot of good competition out there. If I want my manuscript to find its way through thousands and thousands of other submissions to the top of the pile, I’ve got to knock publishing’s socks off.

I love the smell of pressure in the morning.

“CKR” Diary Post No. 16
January 18, 2007
Some days you feel like writing and some days you don’t. As a writer working on novel number two, I’m learning I can’t always rely on inspiration to get me started. Sometimes, I need a jump-start. Take yesterday, for example: I had the house to myself nearly all day for the first time in three weeks. I should have been more productive THAT day than any other day, but I just wasn’t motivated. I wasn’t feeling all that well, either, so I had a justifiable excuse to lay on the couch and watch HBO. But I HAD TO get work done—like I’ve said before, this book won’t write itself—so I forced myself to sit down and read through the chapter I was working on until the spark of inspiration struck. It took about an hour. But I persisted and it paid off. I even managed to finish the chapter before my daughter got home from school. That’s always a bonus. (All you writers out there should take note: Excuses NOT to write are plentiful; your job as an aspiring author is to find the excuses TO write, or you’ll never be successful.)

So I wrapped-up the Chapter 5 third-person to first-person conversion yesterday. (If that confused you, please ask me to explain.) About twenty-five more days like yesterday and I’ll have this one “in the can.” Don’t laugh. It could happen. (Right.) Since it’s become something of a tradition here in the Diary to share a piece of the most recent completed chapter, and because so many of you have enjoyed these little glimpses, here’s an excerpt of Chapter 5:


[Ted and the guys have just pulled off the Turnpike to stop at a service plaza.] Looking ahead at the squared, masonry structure that housed restrooms, fast food, faster food, and frozen treats (if the vending machine was working), I suppressed the urge to pee so I wouldn’t have to go in there. But it wasn’t the bathroom I hoped to avoid. It was the smell of deep-fried take-out. And not because it made me ill, but because I knew I’d want some, and I was high and broke. Not a good combination in the best of circumstances, and straight lunacy in the presence of nachos, french fries, and ice cream sandwiches made with chocolate chunk cookies and multi-colored, imbedded M&Ms.

The most obvious difference I’ve noticed between the first draft and this final re-write is that I’ve become so much more familiar with Ted and his wife and his friends. I can see them perfectly in my mind. Even their thoughts and mannerisms and histories are clear now. It makes for much easier writing, I’ve gotta tell ya’. Now that they’re walking and talking, all I have to do is put them in a scene and type as fast as I can to keep up. And I can’t wait to dig into the next chapter (6), it’s one of my favorites. Set at a strip club, it’s the first time Jimmy’s “problem” rears its ugly head. It’s also the first time Ted’s imagination wanders from Kate to another woman. This is gonna be fun!

I’ll be back once I’ve made significant progress … ‘til then, and as always, thanks for sharing the ride.

“CKR” Diary Post No. 17
January 23, 2007
Moving right along … I finished Chapter 6 yesterday and will be on to Chapters 7 and 8 later this week. I’d like nothing more than to clear everything off my schedule and just write, write, write ‘til this is done, but nuisances like laundry, housework, doctor appointments, and my family keep getting in the way. Can you believe my husband and kids expect to eat every day?! I just went grocery shopping last week and now I’ve gotta turn around and do it AGAIN this week! Will the responsibilities never end?!

But there are lights at the end of the tunnel. Sort of. Well, not really. The tunnel just got longer, is all. Those of you who’ve been following this story for a while might remember my mentioning a while back that I have a good friend who’s the Executive Editor of a South Florida magazine. The mag went on hiatus for a bit, but they’re back with a vengeance and I’ve been asked to contribute, possibly on a regular basis. It’s a good thing and a great opportunity, considering circulation hovers around 20,000 and the market is 25-to-35-year-olds who are into art, fashion, music, and South Florida nightlife, which is a perfect place to start hyping my books. But I’m struggling to come up with a decent platform. On what issue can I speak with any authority? Especially if the audience is comprised mostly of single, hip, fashionable, artsy-types who are into dating and sushi? I’m kinda at a loss. Maybe you guys can come up with something?

In the meantime, I’ll keep thinking-up blog ideas and plugging away at CKR. Oh, and I almost forgot … here’s an excerpt from Chapter 6 (the strip club scene):


Jimmy answered, but I tuned out what he was saying in favor of listening to the club’s PA system as the last strains of BTO’s Takin’ Care of Business transitioned into a chant I recognized instantly as the Kid Rock song Alex had brutally misquoted earlier. But that wasn’t entirely true. The chorus of Bawitdaba was, indeed, playing, but it was only the introduction of another song, the live version, in fact, of one of Kate’s favorite songs. Should I have taken it as a sign to leave? Maybe I should have.

Thanks again, y’all, for taking the “lonely” part out of the lonely writer’s life. I’ll be back, as always, once I’ve made more progress.

(to be continued...)

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