Friday, November 4, 2011

Varying degrees of hardness

I’m in the middle of a three-day author chat over at Goodreads, where I’ve been answering reader questions, giving away free copies of Making Waves, and generally trying not to annoy people.

Many of the readers participating in the chat have never heard of me, so they don’t realize the landmine they’ve stepped on when they ask questions like:

Which book would you say was the hardest to write and why?

You’ll be impressed to know I resisted the urge to make a hardest joke. Even though I really wanted to. Even though I thought of at least six hard-on jokes before I finished logging in.

I said logging in.

OK, that’s out of my system now. All jokes aside, it’s a very good question. Did she mean hardest in the technical sense, hardest in the emotional sense, or hardest in the bone-daddy sense?

Sadly, I suspected the latter was not the case. But I couldn’t decide between the other two options.

Technically speaking, Making Waves was a tough book to write. There was a lot of research involved in figuring out the geographic logistics of the journey and the nitty-gritty boating details.

Then there’s the challenge of trying to keep a story interesting when the characters are all stuck in the confines of a fairly small boat. By the time I’d reached the halfway point of the story, I was ready to gouge my eyes out with a popsicle stick. This is actually one benefit to the seat-of-my-pants approach I take with writing. Since I didn’t have the story plotted out ahead of time, I could shake things up by adding a new twist that got them off the boat.

Well, and got them off in other ways. The beauty of writing romance is that sex can always spice things up.

But going back to the original question, perhaps she meant hardest emotionally. Without question,that honor goes to Mad Crush.

(Er, did I forget to mention that the third book in my contract – the one I’ve tentatively referred to as Let it Breathe – has officially been retitled Mad Crush? I like Mad Crush a whole big bunch, so I’m thrilled with the new title. Wait. Was this one of those details I’m supposed to keep secret for now? I forget. Well, let that be a lesson – never tell me any secrets).

Anyway, I started writing Mad Crush within a couple months of signing my three-book deal with Sourcebooks. Within a couple months of that, my marriage of 13+ years began to unravel.

As you might imagine, writing romantic comedy is rather difficult when you’re feeling neither romantic nor comedic.

Under normal circumstances, I can write a book in about 3.5months. Mad Crush took ten months. That doesn’t count editing time, which is still ongoing even now. True, there were several months where I wasn’t writing a word on the manuscript, but even when I was writing, I wasn’t doing it quickly. Most days, it was all I could do just to write a blog post and get it up.

(Should we pause here and make note of the fact that I just used the phrases doing it quickly and get it up without snickering once?)

I’m actually making my final pass through Mad Crush this weekend, and looking forward to making tweaks based on the mindset of someone feeling hopeful and giddily in love instead of like someone who wants to fill her pockets with rocks and walk off the end of a pier.

What’s one of the hardest things you’ve ever done? It can be writing-related or not, either one. Or bone-daddy related, I guess. Far be it from me to discriminate against perverts.

14 comments :

Anne Gallagher said...

One of the hardest things I've ever done was build a fence by myself. Digging the post holes in Georgia clay was insanely rough, and they had to be two feet deep, but I did it.

(Take whatever you want from the above sentence, I left you some good ones.)

Claire Dawn said...

"Was that supposed to be a secret? I forget." lol!

I think my hardest book to write is the one I just can't get going about the Japan earthquake. I feel like I should write it and I just can't. Some day.

Also, kudos on mot scaring the entire of goodreads with your hard-on jokes.

Sarah W said...

I'm revising my first draft right now, hoping it will shake the ending loose.

It's either the best stuff I've ever done, or the worst drivel ever produced -- often at the same time.

Maybe I should try noir instead of caper novels. I hear plots are optional in noir . . .

Kim Mullican said...

Being a latchkey kid, a survival of molestation as a child and abuse from a former spouse there have been a lot of difficult times in my life. But all those negative things have made me a strong, independent woman with quick wit, a large sense of humor and the moxie that makes me who I am today.

My father says its because I was born premature and have been fighting since the day I was born. I can always see the forest through the trees. I'm not sure if he's right, but I'll buy it.

There is always a silver lining, and anything worth having is worth working/fighting for. Look at your success and your following! Kudos to you.

Laina said...

My second book was the hardest for me to write. My MC is kinda depressed and... she's just not in a good headspace. I wrote a lot of it sick (just cold sick, not seriously ill.

Apparently that makes me cranky :P

Lol, um, no, I wrote it at the beginning of winter which can kinda make me unhappy (not a cold person) and... it's just a sadder book that my others and it can make me a bit depressed. It also had *major* plot issues and I had to rewrite the majority of it.

I *cough* have been avoiding revising it. Mostly by writing another book XD

Mac said...

Sitting erect in my chair may be the hardest part of writing for me. I like sitting back and taking it slowly. There's too much stress in the world. We all need to take the plunge and release the tension in our lives. We pounce when we can slide in. Take it easy. Not to say we shouldn't grab it tight with gusto. But enjoy it. Let it happen, to come in its own time. Life is good, and certainly the size of your enthusiasm counts.

Julie Glover said...

The physically hardest thing I've ever done involves a head and my hoo-ha. Sorry, but it was pushing my son's ginormous head out of the birth canal with no drugs.

As to writing, thus far the hardest experience has been the novel where I jumped around writing scenes here and there and later tied them together. Can you say PLOT HOLES? I learned my lesson.

Matthew MacNish said...

Technically speaking, as compared to oh, say: a diamond, a pork sword really isn't all that hard.

Deborah said...

The hardest thing I've ever done is ask my ex-husband to leave. The scariest was sit helplessly bedside watching my 11-day old son fight to live and praying he won (He did, thank God).

The hardest book to write...technically - my psych/crime novel. Physically/emotionally - all of them because they've all been written juggling four kids/husband/friend/work committments and the guilt that comes with tuning into fictional characters when real live ones want/need my attention.

I'm so glad you're in a space of, hopefully, happily giddily instead of pocket rocks and piers. :)

Take care,
Deb

Sierra said...

Hardest thing I've ever done? I think I'll have to say picking up my life and moving to Montana from Illinois with no friends or family there, a tentative living situation that fell through the day I got there, and no vehicle. It worked out though.

Then it was really hard to decide almost two years later that I needed to move back to Texas. Luckily, there was a LOT of family here. Although the decision was harder, the move was easier. And I'm still here. :)

Elizabeth Poole said...

The hardest thing I've ever done with my writing was rewrite a book completely, after I had already had four false starts. Each time the novel improved, but I wanted to abandon that book so much.

I still have to go back and do some major revision. Like, the sort that involves changing the main character and setting. But without that rewrite I would have never seen what wasn't working.

But it was HARD. So hard. Harder than the hardest pun you can think of. I felt like such a failure.

But I did it, and I am proud of myself now. :D

Kay said...

By far the hardest thing I've ever done was survive my "surprise divorce" after twenty-one years of marriage. Ironically, it occurred the same year I'd decided to get serious about my writing.

But I not only survived, I thrived (after some time). I moved to a new city, got a power job (with a power schedule) and spent five years regaining my individuality. The down side--I'd developed a writing phobia and had limited time to push through it. About the time I decided I was perfectly happy on my own--i.e. not sharing my closets--I met "the one" and we were married six months later. That was 10 years ago.

I worked the first few years, and had the same demanding schedule. He urged me to quit to write, but deep down I associated writing with abandonment. I finally took the leap of faith and left my job. I've finished one novel (in query process) and I'm working on my second. I also blog three times a week. Though it's nothing like I expected, I love every butt in the chair moment.

So that hardest thing turned out to be a blessing--it just took a decade or so to manifest.

Tawna Fenske said...

Anne, I feel your pain! Bend is nothing but volcanic rock, so digging ANYTHING is backbreaking work!

Claire Dawn, I like to save the hard-on jokes just for you guys :)

Sarah W, plot? What's a plot? I should get one of those for my next book, huh?

Kim, wow, kudos for you for fighting your way through everything! I admire the hell out of you!

Laina, sometimes getting a little distance from a manuscript is the very best thing you can do!

Mac, you threw that "erect" reference in just for me, didn't you?

Julie, I like how you used the words "hoo-hah" and "holes" in such close proximity.

Matthew, note to self...find out how much a diamond vibrator costs.

Deborah, holy cow, woman...you've been through a lot! Kudos to you for staying strong.

Sierra, ugh, I abhor moving. You have my sympathies!

Elizabeth, huge good luck with the revisions!

Kay, gotta love those surprise divorces (and the blessings that can come afterward!)

Thanks for reading, guys!
Tawna

Michael Offutt said...

Writers face so many challenges in putting out a story. I think only your peers can fully understand that.