Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Perfect for a Day! - Susan Mallery

I just finished a book. Typing “The End” is a magic moment for me. Writing a book takes a lot of time and effort. It’s adding pages every day over and over until the story is finally told. At times it seems as if I’ll never get to the end, then I do and I feel so happy.

The absolute best part of writing is the sound a manuscript makes when it hits the bottom of the Fed-ex pick-up box. That “thunk” is satisfying and very previous, but typing “The End” is a very close second.

I know it seems that finishing a book would be more exciting than mailing it off. It probably should be, but it isn’t. Dropping the manuscript into the box is a simple act. Finishing a book is not.

When I get an idea for a book, things are so clear to me. I know what I want to happen, I know the feelings I want to evoke. I’m excited by the characters and the twists and turns in the story. When I’m writing, I push myself to make every scene better and deeper. I want the dialogue to sparkle and the emotional parts to be overwhelming. When I finish, I have the promise that I’ve actually done it. I’ve written the book to be as good as I want it to be. For that day, the book is perfect.

The next day I read it.

I start at the beginning, manuscript on my desk, colored pen in hand and I go through it, page by page. I edit, I rewrite, I tweak, I move scenes around. I rip it apart, then I put it back together because the cold truth is I can never make the book as good as I want it to be.

Eventually deadline constraints force me to send in the book. My editor reads it and sends me notes. A copy editor goes through it and leaves her marks all over the pages. I’ll have two more passes on the book, changing and changing, all in attempt to make it match that perfect vision in my head.

I never quite get there. I think that is truth of being a writer—we can never match that perfect vision in our head. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. I know that striving makes me work harder to write each book better. I know the elusive goal keeps me motivated.

I finished a book today and for now…until I pick up that colored pen…it is perfect!


Jennifer Y. said...

Wonderful post...thanks for sharing! I am sure it is a nice feeling finishing a book...even if you know you'll have to go back and edit.

liz said...

Hi Susan,

Thats so neat! I guess that when we read a book, we as a reader are usually too involved in the plot, the twists and turns to think about how much effort, work, and sweat the author has gone through to gives us his/her best work.

Thanks for sharing,
=) Liz

principessa said...

Lovely insight. COngrats. All the best.

mammakim said...

aaah another book to look forward to.. I am loving the Buchanan series.