Thursday, May 22, 2014

Where Are My Pants?

I've said it before and I'll say it again, coming off of a big writing deadline is a lot like waking up with an epic hangover after a lost weekend.

This week I'm recovering from a deadline drunk. Or maybe that's coming down from a deadline high. Either way, I'm trying to find my way back to my normal life after spending 3 days this past weekend locked in my apartment in the final push to complete GHOST IN THE GUACAMOLE, the 5th Ghost of Granny Apples novel, and my 18th novel turned into a publisher.

18 - OMG!

How in the hell did I do that? Even I don't know.

This last book proved to be somewhat of a special challenge. You see, my muse disappeared a few months before deadline. I think she went backpacking in Europe and forgot to look at our schedule before leaving. For months I struggled with my manuscript. I knew the story. I liked the story. This should not have been a problem. But day after day I'd sit at the computer and little to nothing would come out.

And it wasn't the dreaded writer's block. If I turned my mind to other stuff, it flowed like honey. Only the book under deadline sat like a bump on a rock, jeering and mocking me. It crossed my mind that maybe I was tired of writing the Granny Apples books. But that thought horrified me, because I really love writing about Emma and Granny and all their adventures.

Then, about 6 weeks before my deadline, when I only had 100 pages done and was beginning to panic, my muse showed up, fresh and excited from her vacation and with a pocket full of kitschy souvenirs, and ready to get down to business.

"Where in the hell have you been?" I screamed as I injected myself with more coffee.

"Are you going to throw a tantrum or get down to work?" she asked with the calmness of Gandhi.

For the next month my muse and I worked non-stop - mornings beginning around 4:30, lunchtimes, evenings, weekends. A good night's sleep became a stranger. But we did it. The words, the pages, the scenes flowed out of my head and fingers like water from a fire hose. And I hit my deadline.  What's even better, my beta readers, those chosen few who read my work as I write, loved the book! I wasn't throwing down crap as I feared.  In my final go-through and editing, I stepped back and read the book, forgetting the hysteria that surrounded its birth, seeing it from page 1 as a reader might.  And it was good. I sighed with relief and collapsed.

Like I said, hitting a writing deadline is like coming off a major drunk. For days after I do little except catch up on sleep, read and watch TV. I don't even try to catch up on housework or other daily chores. I just wait for the deadline induced fog to lift and my mind to clear and readjust itself. I pick up the pieces of my forgotten life and hope I didn't do anything stupid while under the influence, like get a face tattoo or assault a police officer or run naked down Wilshire Blvd.

Up next is the 10th Odelia Grey novel. OMG! 10! (Take a deep breath, Sue.) The working title is JUNK IN THE TRUNK and I already have two chapters completed. It's deadline is October 1st and I don't intend to dawdle.

I also have another project that is in negotiations right now, so I can't really talk about it yet.

But what about Granny? Right now I have no more Granny Apples books under contract, but the publisher is considering more. Am I tired of Granny? Hell, no! In fact, just after I turned in GHOST IN THE GUACAMOLE, I wrote the first paragraph of the 6th book and can't wait to get rolling on it in earnest. It's working title is GHOST WRITER.

I've also given my muse notice that she's used up her vacation time.


Mark Baker said...

Bad muse! She is not allowed to take any vacations without me in the future. (Oh, you thought I was going to say she couldn't go on vacation again?)

Seriously, glad you got the book finished!!

Christopher Hudson said...

Thanks for the blog. I like that additional color which (to me) didn't come through on your Facebook posts.
For us not in the publishing world, who/what is your 'muse'?
I found a great dictionary definition, "the goddess or the power regarded as inspiring a poet, artist, thinker, or the like."
Is it your primary contact at your publisher? Or is it a special friend you go to?
Congratulations on completing the book.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Chris, my muse is Selma Diamond, the late comedian. Her book Nose Jobs for Peace sits on a shelf right above my computer.

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