Monday, January 08, 2007

The 12:30 Rule (and status update)

A corollary to my three o'clock rule seems to be the 12:30 rule: No matter how early I get up and to the office, I will finish checking e-mail and doing my round of usual Internet reading at 12:30. I am not a morning person, by any stretch of the imagination, so it takes me a long time to wake up and be fully alert. I have to eat breakfast, read the newspaper and have a cup of tea, then get dressed and head to the office, where I check my e-mail. Then I get another cup of tea and make a circuit around my usual bookmarks, mostly industry news and information and a few message boards. Somehow, if I wake up early and am in the office by nine, I finish this at 12:30. If I drag myself out of bed late and get in the office at 11:30, I finish at 12:30. Then I watch the last half of the noon news while eating lunch (if I haven't just finished breakfast), reading the newspaper comics and working the New York Times crossword before going back to the office and really beginning the business part of the day. I suppose when I have more time I read more carefully or am more inclined to comment on blogs or to post on message boards. I might also be better about actually responding to and dealing with my e-mail, and I might start working on my blog entry. But still, getting up earlier doesn't seem to affect the amount of time I have available to work or the time of day when I start dealing with things.

A quick status report of various things:
I got the page proofs for Damsel Under Stress reviewed and returned to my editor. That ends my involvement with what goes on the inside of the book, unless there's a question from the proofreader. My editor talked me off the ledge about my paranoia about one aspect of the cover, so what's on Amazon is pretty much the final cover. My work related to this book now is focused on promoting it. The content is more or less set in stone. That's kind of bittersweet. On the one hand, it's a relief to have it off my plate, but on the other, it means it's really and truly done and I have to say goodbye to it. It's going from my brain to other people's brains, where they'll layer their own impressions and perceptions on it. This one's possibly a little darker, heavier and more emotional than the first two books, but it does still have a few parts that make me laugh out loud, maybe even more so than with the other books.

I'll be getting my editor's comments on book four soon. It sounds like she's enjoying it, but there's always room for improvement. I also have comments on this draft from my agent. I moan and whine about it because it's a lot of work that can sometimes be very painful and require scrapping scenes I thought I loved while writing entirely new ones, but this is one of my favorite phases of the process. It's been months since I looked at the book, so I have a fresh perspective and more distance, and at the same time, I'm getting feedback from others. That means this is the phase when I can really dig into the book to make it the best it can be. I just have to try not to get too down on myself for feeling like I've failed for not having it be perfect to begin with.

Meanwhile, I've written the first three chapters on the possible book five, and then last night I rewrote the first scene. Now I have some more rewrites to do because I've realized what needs to be fixed. I think (hope) I'm spotting the kind of stuff my agent usually critiques me for and makes me rewrite. I'm probably going to step out on faith and just keep writing this book, even without a contract, because it's fun. Right now, I'm trying to decide whether I should just polish up these first chapters and send them to my agent before going on with the book or if I should write a couple more chapters first and then revise the first three in light of what comes up later (I might be able to do my usual cut of chapter two ahead of time) before sending it in. This is when my impatient and perfectionist natures go to war. Sometimes, I like to have things done really, really well, as perfect as possible, while at other times I just want to get things done. Right now, I'm not sure which is best. At this point in my career, I'm not sure that a perfect proposal is what the book sale will hinge on. It will have much more to do with my previous sales numbers and projections for how well this one could sell than it does with how brilliantly worded the chapters in the proposal are (so go get more people to buy more books now, so the numbers will show before it's time to make a decision!). But I also don't want to turn in something that doesn't capture their imaginations and make the editors desperate to read the whole book.

Most of my good intentions for the new year have already fallen by the wayside. I am writing, but not as much or as quickly as I'd hoped. I'm a little more organized in getting things done. The house is still a mess, and I've slacked off from exercising. I have more than 3,000 e-mails in my in-box, so that is clearly out of control. I need to take down and put away all my Christmas stuff. I like having the lights up inside, so I'm reluctant to get rid of them. Maybe I'll find a non-tacky way to incorporate little white lights into my regular decor. I have all sorts of new organizational containers for putting that stuff away in the garage, which will clear space in my office closets. I'm quasi excited about that.

So, that's my life in a nutshell. I'm having a really hard time getting my brain focused today, so I may spend the afternoon cleaning and organizing, which helps me think, and then tonight I can do more rewriting of the proposal.

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