Saturday, August 15, 2009

the blank page

Okay. First, let me say that the messages and comments I received (email, Facebook, here) from yesterday's post about boys and reading were really great, and I particularly want to get to the anonymous question about suggestions for schools and what about girls, so you can look for that topic to be addressed on Monday's blog.

But, it's Saturday, so I thought I'd have a little fun.

I think about this quote frequently:

From Sidney Sheldon, "A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God."

Well, I don't write on paper -- my hand is completely spaz, and even when I try to take the time to hand-write a special note inside a book to one of my (very few) friends, I have to write in all caps, and I just can't make the letters look like letters.

But I understand Mr. Sheldon's point, because a writer does have to play God -- create things from seeming nothingness, make them complete, and destroy, even if he doesn't want to.

So, it's a natural consequence, as I've written a few times here, for a writer to feel a desperate emptiness when he actually completes work on a novel and gets ready to send it off, usually to New York.

A couple days ago, a very good friend of mine, who also happens to be a brilliantly talented writer, finished his latest novel and sent me a very short email that said -- in about four words or so -- ugh... now what do I do?

Yeah. Been there, too. But if I had to give a particular routine to what I, personally, do as soon as I finish a novel (and just before I "let it go"), here's what I told him I'd do:

1. Have a drink.

2. Print the sucker out. I need to do this so I can actually hold my work and feel the weight of it. If you have a slow printer, you can have another drink while this is going on.

3. Then I look at the pages... just to see what they "look" like, in terms of white space and stuff (I know... hard-core ADD).

4. I randomly read a few pages to see if I still think they're good.

Then... I usually send it to my editor and agent. The reason for this is that the way I write, by the time I get to steps 1 - 4, I've usually rewritten the thing along the way at least a half-dozen times, so the end is the end of the road and I have to send the kid off to camp.

With my last one, I was fortunate in that my editor read it right away and contacted me within a couple of days. The editor knows how insane I can get when I finish something.

Usually, I try to NOT write after that... so I'll start reading some books. Not so with the last one, The Marbury Lens (which is actually going to be the next book out after in the path of falling objects, even though I have already completed the fourth book, Winger, for 2011). I almost immediately went back into writing mode and am currently working on another book.

Couldn't stop myself.