Two-and-a-half years ago, when one of the women in my dance class found out I am an author, she suggested that I write a book about our class, and even volunteered to be the victim. I thought about it for more than a year, planning the story and trying to figure out a way around the many problems I could see, such as the women hating what I’d written about them. During a pleasant interlude, a little over a year ago, while staying with a friend, I started writing the book. And there it sat, all this time. Seven weeks ago, after making a commitment to write 250 words a day, I dug out the book and worked on it.
And now it is finished! I will let it sit for a while until I can read it with a fresh mind, then go over it one more time. And then — who knows. My publisher and I are at a standstill. He thinks he should have final say about such matters as typos and formatting because he is funding the project, and I think I should. I would rather not have the book published than give up even those simple rights, so who knows what will happen. Either way, it wouldn’t be published until late next year. Meantime, I am offering to send the manuscript to folks who want to read it in exchange for noting any typos they find. Let me know if you want to be one of these first readers.
Today, I dug out another unfinished manuscript. This one is much more complicated. I started writing it in November of 2010, a few months after Jeff died. I wanted to try NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month — where writers are challenged to write 50,000 words in the thirty days of November. The only way I could manage the word count was to write chapters as I thought of them. So now I am faced with a stack of unrelated chapters with a lot of repetion and no idea how to string them together. Even worse, they are all hand written, so I also have to type them. Worst of all, scenes I thought I’d written, I hadn’t, and now I don’t remember what needed to go into those crucial scenes to make the story work. Eek.
I do have the first fourth of the book typed and in chronological order, but it shows a woman in the first throes of grief, and I worry that her many tears and screams would be off-putting. Still, that is a job for the editing process, when I’ve gotten the story into a first draft. But, mingled with the tears are hints of a deeper story. A gun hidden in a closet. A suicide note. A box with gun oil and stained rags. A file that was password protected. Oh, and a cyber affair.
The woman was married to a preacher and will be evicted from the manse, which adds even more pathos to the story, but I can’t find the eviction scene. Maybe I decided they had bought a house, and she turned it over to her daughter? I guess I’ll find out in the writing! I do like the idea of one trauma piled on another, though. The woman seems a bit weak, all those tears and whines about not knowing who she is if she doesn’t know who her husband was, and putting her through more stress than a person can handle would be a good way of seeing what she’s made of.
I’d actually planned to finish another book first, one I started the year before Jeff died. It will actually be easier from a writer’s point of view because the book is three-fourths finished, and I know what the story is, but it’s harder from an emotional point of view. The idea came from him, and it hurts that he won’t be in at the finish.
Still, it’s best to do the emotional books first, get them out of my head.
Since, apparently, I am working backward, the final book will be the complete revision of my first book. The idea still intrigues, but I started it long before I learned how to write, maybe seventeen years ago, so I will probably have to start from scratch. There is a sex scene in the book, though, and I hope that is salvageable since each book I write seems to become more chaste than the last.
Meantime, I am dealing with this mess, trying to wrangle it into a cohesive story.
Ah, the fun that awaits me!
(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”) Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.