Why Do You Work So Hard?

I’m down to the last 10k or so words of Pussycat. Should have it wrapped up by the tenth. (At least, that’s what I promised Lisa as we’ve got to get going on a project that’s due in March!) Anyway, last night I struggled trying to find just the right turn of phrase to compare the tangy saltiness of a good single-malt Scotch to the air of the Mediterranean. 

As I scratched out words and re-wrote them over and again, the hubster asked, “Why do you work so hard?” This question is not nearly as inane as it sounds, and here’s why. In publishing these days you make money by having an extensive backlist. So you really have to churn it out. And goodness knows, I really need to make money. I’ve committed myself to having four books out this year, or die trying. But churn it out? I don’t think I could ever do that. 

See, it goes back to something I said on Erica B.’s blog. When you look at the craftsmanship that Erica puts into every piece she makes, it’s obvious that she enjoys the process and wants to produce the best garment she can. I think you can see, Erica is a genius, a sewing savant if you will, and I doubt she does as many do-overs as I do, but I would imagine that she does some. Or at least she has in the past. You don’t reach that level of technical expertise without plenty of re-dos. My career writing fiction is still in its infancy, though I really feel it’s about to take off in a big way. Meanwhile, I have to go to the woodshed, I have to do the work. Over and over again. 

I’ve reached the point in Pussycat that I call The Grind. The last few chapters are absolutely maddening because you’ve been living with the story forever and you just want to get it done. Interesting enough, I’ve been living with this book for a significantly shorter time than any other story I’ve written. Rock Star was probably with me for decade. Try a Little Tenderness even longer than that. I only got the idea for Pussycat last summer, but the grinding effect is the same. I feel the same way when I make a quilt. As I come to the very end I’m usually tempted to torch the darned thing because I’m so sick of looking at it! 

I realize that what I produce isn’t literature, and that’s not my goal. I want to write the best, most entertaining, most sensuous books possible. I want my readers to feel that they got the best book I could produce at that time. You guys have supported me in my ventures for so long. You deserve nothing less. So I write and rewrite until I get it just right. I think that’s why this industry is so deadline oriented. I suspect that most writers would continue rewriting in a continuous loop, or at least until their spouses stabbed them to death.

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