Saturday, June 05, 2010

Feeling Charlie Allnut

It is 4 am Friday night. Correction, Saturday morning. The 6th book in my Odelia Grey series is due in about five weeks.

I’m feeling pretty Charlie Allnut.

For those of you who don’t remember, Charlie Allnut was the character played by Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen. He was a gin-guzzling, grubby boat captain henpecked by a missionary, played by the amazing Katharine Hepburn, into attacking a German war ship.

No, I’m not guzzling gin. Nor am I about to ram a boat into a German ship.

Remember the part in the movie where Allnut was in the river, up to his waist in muck, dragging his boat through the swampy reeds with a rope. Okay, THAT’S how I’ve been feeling about this manuscript. Like I’m dragging it to the deadline.

Usually I fly through my manuscripts and have a hellava time doing it. I love writing Odelia. I love writing all three of my series. But for some reason writing Odelia #6 has been a torturous drudge, not unlike dragging an old boat through the mosquito infested swamps of Africa in the heat.

Until last night.

Yesterday, I had a break-through in the manuscript. It came to me while at work at the law firm and for a moment I could have sworn I heard angels singing. I couldn’t wait to get home and start writing (which is how I usually am with books). Problem is, this epiphany would mean restructuring the whole book, removing characters already ingrained in the plot and creating new characters that would take the story in a similar, but new direction.

Basically, with five weeks left to go, I started over.

Now the book is sailing along and I’m having fun, fun, fun. The plot is less bloated. The characters make more sense. Odelia is happier and feistier. Of course, I’m exhausted and about to drop and have to get up in a couple of hours to keep pounding the keyboard with my new-found excitement for the rest of the weekend. But finally, after struggling for months, all is well in my little corner of the writing world.

Insane, yes, but I am very glad I did. My personal rule of thumb is if I don't like the book, my readers will not like the book. If I'm bored writing it, my readers will be bored reading it. Now in five weeks I'll be turning in a book I'm proud of, happy with, and personally enjoy.

Five weeks, my friends. Five weeks …

I’m going to bed now.


Alan Orloff said...

You go, girl!!

Mark said...

That sounds like a reasonable rule of thumb. Glad to hear I have a Odelia book to look forward to next summer. :)