How I finish a book.

Apparently you ignore your blog, for starters. [Sorry about that.]

Now that the first draft of my next book is turned in as of four days ago, I begged my editor to let me tell you about it, but she says it’s not quite ANNOUNCE TO THE WORLD time yet, so I can’t. But I wanna. You know I do.

But I can tell you about my life around THE FIRST BOOK I’M WRITING FOR ADULTS. [Yep, not a teen book. A woman book. A man book. A teen book if they wanna, but a book for YOU.]

Also, I have confused some of us by calling this Book Four. Let me explain why:

1. Perfectly Unique

2. What’s Your Mark?

3. Speak Love / Speak Love Revolution

4. The One That Almost Killed Me

Fine, that’s not the title. But that’s been what I’ve labeled it for a while now.

But I survived, so take THAT murderous word document. You didn’t get me this time.

Here’s what the last few weeks have looked like:

  • Working on a Friday night.
  • Saying no to lots of social events and yes to lots of minutes in front of a computer.
  • Writing a lot. And deleting a lot. And then writing again.
  • All the while telling my friends, “eh, it’ll get done. But I’m not sure it will be good.”

So on a book that is supposed to be 45,000 words, I write by word count every day, setting goals of 1,500-2,000 words a day. Then when I get up past 40,000, the goal changes. I’m not trying to get to 45,000. I’m trying to finish the best book I can write, and then hope the word count falls somewhere between 42,000 and 48,000. [This first draft clocked in at 47,835. Though that will change. A lot.]

Y’all. I’m just going to shoot you straight. The hardest days of writing Speak Love this winter were pretty bad for me emotionally. But it only lasted about a week. The same level of hard was with me EVERY DAY of writing this book and amped up to REAL BAD the last week or so. I have never worked so hard and felt like it didn’t matter and felt so discouraged and beat up and blech.

And the first draft isn’t even that great. Don’t get me wrong- I’m proud of the direction and the idea and the stories, it just needs lots of work.

Last week, I sat on my porch and read the book outloud to myself. The whole thing. It took six hours. It is my last step before turning in the book – to print it and hold it and hear it helps to find weird misspellings- “cat” instead of “car” and other audio/tactile stuff like that. Books FEEL different when read on a computer versus in the hand, so I want to feel it before I turn it in. And as I read, there were two sentences that I REALLY loved and three of the eighteen chapters that I think are spot on.

The rest of the sentences and the other fifteen chapters? That’s why I have an editor, y’all. Editors are THE BEST and TOTALLY NECESSARY and MAKE EVERY BOOK SO MUCH BETTER. She will make it better. Or convince me that it’s better than my crazy brain feels like it is.

I don’t know that I’m supposed to say stuff like that. I’m probably supposed to say “When I turned in my first draft, I cried with happy over all the beautiful literature that the world was about to experience that poured forth from my fingertips.” But the truth is this one was really hard and made me more sad and squeezed and discouraged than I’ve been in a long time and I really hope it turns out okay.

[And for any of you worried about my mental health, I promise my friends and family knew it was bad. And held me up. And sent me texts that said, “You will survive this and it will be good.” So I didn’t try to do this alone.]

So how do I finish a book?

Crawling across the finish line. And then laying there, laying low, for as long as it takes to get back to normal.

That being said, I’m going to tell you tomorrow some of my favorite things to do after I turn in a book [I’ve had a FUN four days], then I’m going to take a break from writing books, blogs, tweets, and emails for a while. Not for long- we have a book to get in the hands of every teen girl on the planet – but I need to rest for a while.

Also. It’s summer time. Let’s read books and play outside and do all manner of things un-computer. 🙂

[That sentence is brought to you by my exhausted mental state. You’re welcome.]

See y’all tomorrow.

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