Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Oh, What A Mess!

This is a picture of my office a week before I turned in The Daddy Catch. I have to admit, the last few days before I turn in a book are crazy busy. It doesn’t matter whether I’ve charted my progress throughout the process. It doesn’t matter whether I’ve stuck to “the plan.” Or if I actually finished writing ahead of time. Those last few days still lengthen into thirteen, fifteen, and sixteen-hour stretches.

As you can see in the photograph, piles of paper grow on my desk top. The box of revisions below it overflows. The calendar practically shouts the day’s assignment. And I can never find a pencil because they’re always buried under the last print-out—the one with all the yellow stickies and heavy marks. As for housework, forget about it. Dinner comes from the only restaurant that still delivers at ten pm.

Of course, the most important thing that happens the week before delivery is that I fall in love with the book all over again. Yes, I loved these characters from the very beginning. I've loved their story, loved telling it. Most of the time, though, I write and revise piecemeal--one chapter, one scene, one paragraph at a time. Doing that, it's easy to lose sight of the big picture.

But that last week—it’s magical. I cozy up in a chair and read the story from beginning to end. Little gems appear. I polish them. I see patterns and themes I wasn’t aware existed. At the end, there’s that “aaaahhh” moment when I'm sure this hero and heroine have the happily-ever-after they deserve.

And then…I deliver the manuscript, fix the world’s most understanding husband a celebratory dinner and clean my office.

See? All ready to do it over again.


Cheryl said...

Leigh, love reading about your process and how you fall in love with the characters all over again. That's the very reason we, the reader fall in love with them, too.

PS...what a cool view out your window.

Leigh Duncan said...

Cheryl, I hope you'll love Jess and Dan's story as much as I do. He beat the odds of the foster care system to become a thoracic surgeon. Jess is a widowed fly fisher who defines the word "feisty." Her drive to protect the riverside as a legacy for her adorable five-year-old is a major roadblock to Dan's plan to build a housing complex for kids who are too old for foster care, but too young to make it on their own.

And yes, I love the view from my office window, although occasionally I wish I enjoyed yard work a bit more.

Kristen Painter said...

Maybe I could bribe you to clean my office. lol Big congrats on getting that book turned in!

Leigh Duncan said...

I've seen your office, Kristen, and there's no cleaning required. Thanks for all the encouragement while I worked on The Daddy Catch!

Kristi said...

Hah. I didn't notice the mess in the first picture. Yes, the surfaces have stuff on them. Um, that's what horizontal surfaces are for, right? To store papers? In your "before" shot the piles couldn't have been more than a few sheets deep...not like my 6" stacks of notebooks and bills and...maybe I've been doing it wrong...:)

Kara said...

Leigh, I can relate completely with your process. Well, more specifically the housework being forgotten. So happy to hear you've turned in the book! Falling back in love with the story and characters is what it's all about. :)

Leigh Duncan said...

Kristi, if it's working for you, you're not doing anything wrong. I don't think the dust (and cookie crumbs) showed up well in the first photo. LOL

Leigh Duncan said...

For me, writing a book is like following a complicated recipe. Say I'm making lasagne boullinaise. First, I have to make the lasagne noodles. And while I enjoy making those, when I'm done, I've accomplished "something," but it's not the whole dish, anymore than completing an outline is writing a whole book. So, next I make the rich, dark sauce and the bechamel sauce, and they're great. But they aren't the finished product, either. Just like the first rough draft isn't the finished product. Then you start layering - noodles, sauce, ricotta, moz, and when you're finished with that, you top it off with the bechamel sauce. And you still have to bake it, and then you're done. You've enjoyed every step along the way (well, maybe not washing all those pots and pans), but nothing compares to that first taste of lasagne right out of the oven.
And for me, that's the way a book comes together. I love each step, but the last one is the best.

Estella said...

I am not a writer, but want to forget housework altogether, so I can read the books you write.

Leigh Duncan said...

What a nice thing to say! I'll let you know as soon as I have a release date for The Daddy Catch. Till then, I hope you'll enjoy some other great Harlequin American Romances.