Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Catching Up: Trains

A few hours ago I took myself down to a coffeeshop, found a table, and finished FJR (or at least, what I've got of it). Reading this manuscript reminds me of watching a train get started. The first few chugs are almost painful to watch, then the rhythm smooths out, then you have a few tons of metal hurtling along the tracks with scary momentum. That's the jist of what I read.

By the time I got to the last few chapters, the Jenny train was really bookin' it down the tracks and you couldn't pay me to stand in its way. The worst part is that I don't have all of FJR yet. Bad Jenny. The neat part was seeing her writing get stronger and stronger as she went. Now it's just a matter of going back to the beginning and pulling it up to the level of the rest. But, that's the whole point of editing.

While everyone's process is their own, mine and Jenny's are similar. Looking at the progress of Oracle is like looking at the progress of FJR. Toward the end, when I stepped away from it, Oracle had hit the point where the rhythm had smoothed out. I have a ton of work to do when I go back to the beginning, but now I have a good idea of what the beginning needs to match up to.

Today, after I wrote my last note on Jenny's manuscript I came home, turned on the computer, and started writing the next chapter of Oracle. Going back to it is both strange and not at the same time. I remember where I was going, but where I was going was the messiest part of the whole book. It's intimidating to try and get my momentum going right at the bottom of this hill, but if I don't I'll never finish it.

I've been thinking hard about just what Oracle is in the grand scheme of things. You hear a lot about how your first novel, or two, is for practice and that the chances of it being any good at all are exceedingly slim. At the same time, I want to make it as good as I can make it and not just toss it aside when I'm done writing it through and say "Well, on to the next one, the one that matters." In the end, I have no idea what'll come of it. I'd like to think I can save it, but I also acknowledge the fact that it might be doomed already. Either way, I've got to at least see it through.

Here's a toast to that first painful chug.


Jenny said...


Debbie said...

Good on ya for getting back to Oracle. And now I really can't wait to dip into FJR.

It is discouraging to hear that the first one is always for practice. But then you hear the stories of the person who dashed off something in a week, the first she ever set pen to paper, and it's a mega best seller with all kinds of critical acclaim.

Either way, what would we be doing with our spare time if we weren't writing?