Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Big Book

As I always tell my family when they ask that hated question... “When are you going to write the big book?”…. I’m working on it.

I do it between waiting on Harlequin proposals. Each time I call up a lady from the basement, shake her out and give her a shot.

It’s good because it keeps me writing year round when the lag time between submitting a proposal and getting an answer can be a couple of months. It’s good because it pushes me to be more creative, more out of the box and more daring. It’s good because if I do all of these things well enough it might sell to NY and become a USA Today bestseller. And then of course life as I know it will be complete.

It’s good because it forces me to write for the fun and joy of it with no expectation that it will sell. It’s good because there are no deadlines for this work so the pressure is only self inflicted. It’s good because it forces me to take a more critical look at my work because I have the time. And because I know that if I’m going to sell to NY then it must be the absolute best.

I’ve written three complete books this way and one proposal that my agent didn’t think would sell. Each time I was convinced that this was it… each time it wasn’t.

So I’m back at it again with a ridiculously complicated plot and four POVS and I’m sitting here sixty pages into it and wondering… what I’m doing this for again?

See how easy it is to dismiss all that good stuff I just mentioned!

I’m questioning everything. Is it big enough? Are the two relationships less impactful because they both have history? How long is the audience going to give me to build the story before I plunge in to the gritty stuff?

My self-doubt is at an all time high. My weekends are spent with my ass in a chair. My alarm is going off every morning at 6:00 am (I’m ignoring that most days.) I’m in a constant state of panic.

And yet I have no control… the big book must have its day.


Karen W said...

I'm with you - and in some ways, worse. My self-doubt is at the point where I am used to its insistent, annoying, little voice nagging at me. What seems to have vanished for me, is that girl from the basement aka NINC. I feel as though my creativity is gone. Vanished. Kaput.

I want it back. And I want to write that book too, the potentianl bestseller.

So yeah. I know what you mean.

Eileen said...

You know, I haven't thought about the Big Book in a long time, but it recently popped up again in my head.

I think it is good BECAUSE it's making you doubt yourself. It's hell, but it means you're pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone.

Go, Stephanie, go! Write that Big Book!

Maureen McGowan said...

What Eileen said. :)

But seriously, I think we only get better if we question these things and challenge ourselves.

The hard thing is to keep perspective. Anything can start to seem dull or trite if you've been staring at it for too long.

You can do it, Stephanie!!! We believe in you.

Maureen McGowan said...

I just read the comment that Renni Browne left on yesterday's post (Renni Browne of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers -- a book whose spine is right above my monitor as I type this.)

What she said is perfect advice for you right now, Steph. This book is like your baby and it's hard to have perspective one way or the other. Yes, you'll always love it, but it might disappoint you or not live up to everything you'd imagined it might be... But an outside person can judge so much more objectively. That's why critique partners and beta readers and agents and freelance editors can all be so useful.

Sinead M said...

I love the idea of the big book and I say absolutely, whenever possible, try and write a big book.

I'd far rather read, even a failed big book, than a competent run of the mill one.

Molly O'Keefe said...

I think because the idea of a big book is so hard to grasp - what makes it big? what makes it big for you as the writer? The reader? etc... I think for all those reasons we have to stretch out and try to define it for ourselves. Big is bigger than what we normally do - and if we can keep the edges always moving out - we're in good shape.

I know that made no sense - I'm at my parents house and the hour time change DESTORY"S my kids. I was up at 3:30 AM!!!!

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