Saturday, March 31, 2012

Who you calling conflicted?

HALLIE EPHRON: So my manuscript is due tomorrow. April 1. No jokes.

Working title: "There Was an Old Woman." Titles I discarded: "Safe as Houses" "Fly Away Home" "Squirrels in the Attic."

All the hard work is done, but I am of course still working on the ending. Got to make it feel satisfying, tied up, but not too pat.

But instead I'm back tinkering around with the beginning, tweaking the middle parts. Running Spell Checker -- again. 

And all the while, I swing back and forth from thinking, 'Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, it's all wonderful," to "Blech. What was I thinking?" Once I send it in, I know I'll be obsessing over every decision when I should be starting the next book.

What makes this so much easier to take is that my fellow Reds are just conflicted, as our daily back and forth emails attest.

Today I offer you a peek behind the curtain with this cut and paste -- not saying who said what.

Red 1: In a crunch here for the next month..gotta go.

Red 2: We need that spa getaway:) xo

Red 3: Yes we do. Oh, sigh, freaking out a little. I've got to write my words for today before I do anything else.

Red 4: I am beyond freaking out. My deadline is so far behind me that I can barely see it in the rearview mirror.

Red 5: If I had any sense I'd be freaking out, but I'm in a strange place - Ripping manuscript to shreds, moving chapters...redeploying...I suddenly have this image of Scarlett O'Hara making a dress out of her mother's portieres.

Red 6: I'm still looking for the curtains to use!! (This is the first time ever I'm writing without an outline. Every day is a surprise...)

Red 7: Oh, I just BURST out laughing. I'm so sorry....we are a pretty interesting crew….

Red 8: I know--I go through that all the time--between the agony (it's going to come out. nobody's going to notice) and the ecstasy (It will be a mega hit, everyone will love me). It's constantly one or the other.


Among the eight of us we've published 80! books. Are we sorry creatures or what? So here's my question: Do guys do this??


  1. I've done the whole "this is great" "this is so boring no one will care" 180s before with my short stories. When I hit the "blech" moments, I take a little break. And if that doesn't work, I keep plowing through because I know that, eventually, the little narcissist inside will return to persuade me that the story is, indeed, great. Ah, narcissism. Sometimes it gets a bad rap. : )

  2. Can't take a break... never mind take breath! The freakin' thing is due TOMORROW!

  3. I don't know about all men, but my husband does. He's a photographer and filmmaker, mostly educational at this point, and he second guesses himself constantly.

    We're both writers, of a sort, but our approaches are so different. I sit down and bang it all out, editing as I go, and end up with my finished product (usually, but not always). He things, stews, writes, then edits, re-edits, and edits again, moving whole sections, throwing things away, rewriting things entirely.

    Granted, neither of us has yet written fiction, but all writing tells some kind of story, especially his, since he is writing for kids. To him, it's never "good enough" until he revisits it much later. And then he will grudgingly admit that it might be "pretty good".

  4. Darn it. He "thinks", not "things".

    More coffee, please.

  5. PS I just finished "Letters to a Soldier" last night, leading up to "One Was a Soldier", which is the my next book to read. This last week or so has been a Clare Fergusson reading spree for me. Julia, if you are above water enough to read this, your characters won't let me go. Thank you for a wonderful and compelling series.

  6. Hallie, it's always good to hear other writers have the same conflicting thoughts as I have. Just sent a ms off. One minute I think it's great, the next I'm preparing myself for a rejection because, of course, it sucks.

  7. I like the title you chose, Hallie. There's almost a gothic-y feel. Or else my imagination just kicked in. :)

  8. Thanks so much, Karen!

    As I was telling the other Reds, I'm getting close to deadline on my next book (though not as close as Hallie! Argh!) AND I'm working on my taxes AND doing my daughter's Student Financial Aid AND finishing my contribution for a non-fiction anthology (due today!)

    Calgon, take me away...

  9. Hallie, I'm glad we share something. I still feel like a woman scorned by herself for the constant back and forth judgment I do in my own work. My only deadlines now are my own, so I am guessing that it can get worse? omg.

    I know men reader/writers are here. Would be nice to hear from them.

  10. Oh, Julia, yes... and Karen has totally got me into reading Clare's story!

  11. A friend of mine who is a wonderful carpenter once told me he knew a piece was finished when he looked at it and thought it was the worst thing he'd ever built.

    Barb, could I borrow your "little narcissist?" I'm working on a new collage piece and the only person in my head is the little nay-sayer.

  12. Thanks, PK, for thumbs-up on the title From your mouth to my publisher's ear...

  13. Hallie, good luck on the book, and I like the title, too.

    Also: I am making some candied orange peel today from your recipe, so have been thinking of you, lending my positive deadline vibes.

    Hope to see you again this year at Mad Anthony, by the way!

  14. I Love coming here, always great conversations !

  15. Mar, thank you so much!

    So, Hallie, we're all thinking of you..let us know when you hit send.

    Me? I'm just...persevering. xoxo

  16. One word, Hallie--YES!

    Sending good-finish energy to you and Julia and all my other Reds pals!

  17. Keep going, Hallie!!! DON'T READ THIS!!!! Just keep writing! xxxxx