Saturday, August 7, 2010

The End of the Novel - Summer Must End

I know I've been very quiet - for almost two months, in fact - but I've been busy. Summer Must End is in the final furlong. I'll finish it by next weekend.

When I started this book on September 6, 2009, I'd already been composing in my head for months. I knew how it would end. I always know how my books will end, like Stephen King, with whom I share that particular approach. I don't start a book until I have the ending. But getting to that end is the thing - that's where all the exciting, unplanned things occur.

When I write (and I've mentioned this before), I quickly work on each chapter, getting down everything I feel  I need to say at that moment, and later - the same day, or the next morning, whenever - I carefully edit the draft, and move on to the next segment. When that chapter is complete, I go back to the very beginning, because ideas and dialogue are constantly coming to me during the time that I'm not physically writing, roughly scribbled on scraps of paper, and they now need to be inserted. Another careful proofread (well, as careful as any normal person manages) and I'm on to the next chapter. And so on. So what started out as (say) a 10-page chapter becomes 14 pages, perhaps, and the manuscript is becoming the final draft with each re-read and tweak.

The point today is that I'm about to start that final chapter. This one is the payoff - this is what writing all the other 90,000-plus words was leading to, and I'm both excited and relieved. There will be more inserts, of course, before this thing is ready for an agent. No doubt I'll even be tweaking it after I've made my move from Canada. But it will be ready for my trusted critics, those dear friends who again could take the time to give me their own opinions on it. I can only hope they love it as much as I do. It's my homage to Ontario. It's my farewell to Canadian rural life. I leave here at the end of September.

Sometimes when I'm deeply immersed in the work (or is that submerged?),  I find myself wondering if my un-writerly life is going okay. I work on average 5 hours a day, skipping some days to do the usual chores, and then I feel as if I've just returned from a trip, because writing the story, being surrounded by all these characters, genuinely makes me feel as if I've been away. I look at my cats, and wonder if my occasional cuddles in the evening have been enough. Are they feeling neglected?  Baby and Jeevesie, I promise I'll make it up to you. (And soon you'll be chasing lizards together.)

I'll continue my blog, of course - more regularly, I hope - after my move to Sydney. For those of you who have hung in there with me, despite my long absences, I wonder if you'll detect a difference in my demeanor. The light is so different there, and it makes me different. Being so geographically remote, you tend to feel less involved with the world than you do in Canada. My thinking becomes lighter, less introspective and intense. What kind of novel might that produce?

What I haven't mentioned over the last little while is that two - yes, two - lovely agents are presently looking at my first two manuscripts, respectively. They both seem very upbeat about them, and the fact that they communicated this to me is, in itself, a wonder to  behold. We all know how very mysterious most agents appear to us, so this is almost miraculous - this one-to-one contact. I am practical enought to realize that It could come to nothing, which is my usual experience, but one never knows.

Summer must end, but perhaps we'll have an Indian summer. I always live in hope.

Talk to you soon.

Quotes to Consider

"If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, Either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing." ~Benjamin Franklin

"Well behaved women rarely make history."~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”~William G.T. Shedd (1820-1894), theologian, teacher, pastor

"It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." ~Franklin D Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd U.S. president

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), essayist, poet, philosopher

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." ~Mark Twain

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
~ Wayne Gretzky