Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Now I Can Rest

Today I finished up the last of the questions and problems my editor had for the last five chapters, and when I turned the last rewrite in, and received her positive response, that was the first time I really felt like I was done. (Yes, that is the complete manuscript in the oversized notebook above. 51 chapters, single-sided, double-spaced manuscript pages.)

She seemed to be pleased with it and asked what I thought. I have no idea. But when I consider the fact that I have yet to read the whole thing through at one time, and that each scene or chapter was interrupted by three days of trying to figure out what comes next, what of all the options I had that I was going to use, choosing some of those options and writing a scene, then changing my mind and writing different options, finally getting something that seemed to go right, and then repeating the process all over again... well, it doesn't surprise me that I'm not really sure what is there.

I know that I was excited about the ending that developed. Not one I'd planned or even expected. (Actually there, was no plan, if you'll recall... I was taking things one day at a time, waiting for the Lord to show me.

It's a little longer than they wanted. Here's another shot of it. I think if I had been seriously considering the 120,000 words Bethany House would have been happier with, I shouldn't have proposed the story be told from three different viewpoints. Maybe for the next book (I still have one more contracted) I'll try just one pov (point of view) character and see if I can keep it closer to that word count.

And then tonight, Bible class was all about the Sabbath, resting after six days of work in the age of Israel, and resting moment by moment in the age of the Church. It seemed weirdly appropriate.

Friday, March 20, 2009

I've Turned it In

Hooray! Yesterday (Thursday) at 2:53pm I sent Bethany House my last installment (chapters 47 - 51) of the final draft of The Enclave. I'm done! It ended up being 51 chapters long, but many of them are short chapters. (Still, I know it was much longer than BHP wanted).

I cannot believe how challenging it was to write this. Challenging in itself, but also challenging to my faith and my peace of mind. Every new chapter, every new scene, it seemed, would begin with a dark stage, a couple of unrelated elements, and sometimes a general idea of where things needed to be at the end, but not always. As one of my journal entries says, "I have a shoe, a stone and a spoon. Now how do I fit all those together?"

Because that's how it started, there was almost always a day or two worth of waiting at the outset, where I just could not get anything to happen. No matter what I did. After awhile I realized that sitting around waiting is kind of boring... Well, I could've gone off and done other things, but I don't believe that's what I was supposed to do, because that inevitably leads to me getting too distracted and distanced from the work. I don't routinely get ideas in the midst of doing something else. I just think of more things to do besides write.

Anyway, it's been a long march of every day having to completely trust the Lord for whatever He was going to provide. When I got to the blank spots, it would be, "What should I do here?" and then, "What specifically should I do with myself... sit? nonstop? outline? do housework?" And the answers were always different. There was a never a pattern that consistently produced the scene, the dialogue, the words. Sometimes a nonstop would do it. Other times, I'd be working on a birthday card and then sometime later, with no real awareness of it happening, I'd be in writing. Sometimes it would just be a matter of reading the rough sketches I'd set down. Or writing down questions about the material on index cards and noting whatever options as answers came to me. Or lying in bed staring at the ceiling.

Whatever it was, it wasn't consistent and I began to understand that God was indeed releasing the story in His time and in His ways. We've been learning in class about not making rules, not trying to come up with our little formula for the Christian life and then running off to execute it, but to stay in a moment by moment, intimate and real reliance on the Lord's direction. And to accept whatever He portioned out with peace and contentment.

That was really a challenge. Especially at the end. I would look at the material I had left and think, "Oh, yeah, now I see where we're going. I should be able to do this in a couple of days. And then I'd tell my editor. And as soon as I went to do it, there'd be that silent, empty stage again. Another day of doing nothing. Even yesterday. I'd thought last Friday that I'd have everything done by Sunday night the 15th. Then spent the weekend stuck. That broke and I thought okay, I'll still get it done by Tuesday. Then Wednesday. Then Thursday morning. I'll get it sent in early Thursday morning... then by 10am, then noon... at the very latest 1pm. Every time I came up with a time I wanted it to get done by, there'd be something else I needed to do, or something else I couldn't figure out, and there I'd be. Whatever I'd written just falling off a cliff and no idea what to do next.

I asked Him for those times. Asked Him to let me be finished by 10 and noon and so forth. And He said no. I kept trying to control it, kept setting deadlines for myself, then feeling tense because I knew on some level I wasn't going to make them, then confronted the fact that once again I had to relax in His timing and really trust Him to deliver. Whether I agreed with that timing or not.

The way I could tell that I wasn't doing that was that I would begin to feel tense. My thinking seemed fine, but emotionally I would start to slowly and subtly get out of whack. Then I wouldn't want to write, and would have to step back and look at what I was doing, and confess that and once again remind myself that He works all things together to those who love God, and that He will accomplish all His will, and He's faithful... I really started to learn the value of focusing not on the details of the problem but on Him. Focus on the problem, what it is, what needs to be done, how it can be solved... tension. Focus on Him, and forget about all that... peace.

So it's done. And now I can sorta have my life back for a couple of weeks (the galleys, I hear, will be coming the first week in April) maybe read a book, watch a movie, clean my house, wash my car, play with Quigley (who's become a fantastic dog, by the way, but more on him in a later post)... try to answer my terribly backed up reader mail. Rest. Two weeks will go by in a flash.

But then so will the two weeks after I get the galleys...

Hooray! I'm done!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Another Enclave

A reader just emailed to ask if I had heard of a book called Enclave by Kit Reed. No. Not at all. So I googled it.

It's put out by Tor, released February 3 of this year. As in last month.

Jeff VanderMeer of the Amazon blog Omnivoracious, says, "Called 'One of our brightest cultural commentators' by Publishers Weekly, Kit Reed has a new novel out called Enclave. Others include Thinner Than Thou, which won an ALA Alex award. Often anthologized, her short stories appear in venues ranging from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Asimov's SF and Omni to The Yale Review, The Kenyon Review and The Norton Anthology of American Literature. A Guggenheim fellow and the first American recipient of a five-year literary grant from the Abraham Woursell Foundation, she is Resident Writer at Wesleyan University."

According to the Publisher's Weekly review, the book is about an ex marine who plans "to make millions while protecting children from the self-destructing modern world. He turns an old Mediterranean monastery into a combined impenetrable fortress and school, and enrolls 100 filthy-rich children," most of whom are trouble makers. Isolated from the rest of the world, they are "fed only canned news stories about wars and natural disasters." And then things go wrong...

Vaguely similar to my book, which is called The Enclave (as opposed to just Enclave), both of which involve a society closed off from the world. Which I suppose is inevitable given the shared title and the fact that enclave means, well, "a distinct territorial, cultural, or social unit enclosed within or as if within foreign territory ". (thanks to Merriam-Webster for that definition)

What's cool is that since I have had all these deadline problems, The Enclave isn't going to release until July, so I think that's a good thing. Plus being part of the Christian Book Publishing industry as opposed to the secular literary/science fiction/fantasy industry (-- Oops. I mean, "general market" literary/sf... industry) sets them apart as well. But still, what a strange thing to discover in the final week of finishing up the book (or at least I hope it's the final week) that another with almost the same title has just been released...

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Another Update

Well, now that I've no doubt lost most of the people who used to read my blog, back when I was actually posting something to read, it looks like I might (stress on the future, uncertain verb form there) be getting back to things pretty soon.

Last Wednesday I turned in chapters 35 - 43 of The Enclave just as my editor was finishing up her line edit on chapters 1 - 34. I have about six or seven (maybe eight... we'll see) to go. I would really, really, really, like to get them done by next Wednesday, but that is probably wishful thinking. And, as I've said before, every time I set down some predicted Time of Completion. It's wrong. Remember that quote of Douglas Adams's I put up awhile back...?

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."

Well, I feel like I'm on a airplane the way the whooshing as become so constant.

Still, the end is in sight. I think.

And now, back to work.