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Miracle Grow

Posted on April 26th, 2010 by annakjarzab

So, back in January when I got this insane idea to fix my second book by chopping it in half and throwing the second half in the garbage (figuratively speaking), I convinced myself it was a good idea by reminding myself that the plot wasn’t really changing all that much. While I couldn’t use the second half word for word anymore, I could extract almost all of the plot beats and just wrap a new skin around them. Which is still working, for the most part, by the way. But I recently realized something–the book-altering change that happens now at the middle of the novel required me to add some stuff. A lot of stuff. I’m starting to think it’s, um, fifty pages of stuff overall. Because I’m at about 290 pages in my manuscript, and I’ve got about a fourth of the book still left to write. So what began as a 280-something page manuscript will probably end up being closer to 350 pages, give or take. And since AUT was a 352 page book and a 310-ish page manuscript, that means that this book will end up being close to 400 pages. NO WONDER I FEEL LIKE I’VE BEEN WRITING IT FOREVER.

It’s possible that things will get cut in revisions (I’m not even pretending this is a revision–this is basically a redraft). In fact, it’s probable. What makes me nervous is that there are new scenes I feel like I need to include that provide emotional succor to the story, but which I haven’t written yet because I haven’t quite decided where they’ll go. So that’s even more pages I hadn’t counted on. Apropos of nothing, I also think there’s one argument that might graduate to a fist fight–I don’t know, I just feel like this book needs more hand-to-hand combat. Just kidding! But seriously, fist fight. It’s going to have to happen.

So, like, on the one hand I’m feeling very accomplished about this book, which I am slowly but surely and methodically completing inch by painful inch. On the other hand, it feels as though every time I get near the finish line, it gets moved back twenty feet. And the whole time I’ve been a little bit unsure about how everyone’s going to react to this new change. It’s sort of terrifying to rewrite a book without any idea of whether or not your editor is going to like it, because the idea of having to rewrite it again is so crushing. But I’m trying not to focus on that! Although I do feel like I’m on my way to getting it right, even if I haven’t quite gotten it right yet. This book is like a misbehaving middle child. It’s being difficult because it wants more attention. Okay, so maybe anthropomorphizing my novels isn’t the best way to present myself as wholly sane, but whatever, you know what I mean. This book needs a little bit of TLC. I just have to spend the next few weeks giving it my love, and not being distracted by shiny new books, which of course don’t look so shiny and new when I put the partials on my Kindle–they just look limp and tired.

Obviously, I need a vacation. And I’m taking one. At the end of this week I’m going to New Orleans with my parents for our family reunion and I couldn’t be more pumped!! I’m excited to spend some quality time with my parents, whose company I appreciate so much now that I’m an adult, and I’m also excited to LEAVE MY LAPTOP AT HOME. Seriously. I’ll be bringing along my notebook, so if I get any bursts of inspiration I can scribble them down somewhere, but otherwise I’m not writing from Wednesday night to Sunday night. I’m hoping this gets my mind grapes working again and gives me some much needed R&R. Maybe my manuscript will have magically shrunk to normal size in my absence?

6 Responses to “Miracle Grow”

Alberto Lung on April 26th, 2010 at 8:54 pm Said:

Fantastic post, may I ask you how do you calculate the numbers of pages?

Sidsel on April 27th, 2010 at 1:21 am Said:

Anna, have you read the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty? (You know apropos of nothing). It is so good. And it includes the best -messing-with-her-mind-bad boy in literary history!

Scarlet on April 27th, 2010 at 2:02 am Said:

Well, if it means anything, I loved that AUT was long because it was SO GOOD. I look forward to this next book.

Shannel on May 3rd, 2010 at 10:37 pm Said:

Wow. What a process, and I love the comparison to “misbehaving middle child…” Enjoy NOLA!!

Shannel on May 3rd, 2010 at 10:44 pm Said:

Great post, love the middle child comparison. Enjoy NOLA!!

annakjarzab on May 5th, 2010 at 2:08 am Said:

Alberto: Microsoft Word tells you how many pages you have written, and then I just kind of guestimate how many there’ll be in the printed book. I think it’s like 200-250 words per page? So if you take the word count from your book and then divide it by 200 or 250, you’ll get the approximate number of pages.

Sidsel: I haven’t read the Jessica Darling series, but I want to! I hear great things, although I think a boy messing with a girl’s mind would ANNOY THE CRAP out of me. At least, I hate it in real life. But I hear those books have great voice.

Scarlet: Thanks ! I’m glad you loved AUT, and didn’t think it was too long.

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