Hello again from Sarah Graves, writing to you once more from Eastport, Maine where by the time you see this it will be mere hours until WINTER AT THE DOOR is published. That’s me at left, of course, moments after finishing the manuscript; note the pale skin, glazed eyes, and shell-shocked expression, all symptomatic of having been writing a novel for months. But now I’m all better…or no, wait a minute, I’m writing another one. So what I am, actually, is un-teachable, I guess.
Still, I’m not crying. “Just give Sarah some pencils and she will be happy for hours” is the caption of an old B. Kliban cartoon, and it could hardly be more appropriate. I like pencils, pens, spiral notebooks, narrow-lined legal pads, typewriters, and even electronic keyboards as long as the keys aren’t sticky. My work environment is full of the things I love, no one tells me how to do it, and if I don’t like the way it’s turning out, I just delete it and do it over again (how many times I delete it and do it over is a different story, but that’s between me and my Muse.) For WINTER, I seem to recall there was quite a lot of rewrite, but that’s another thing I like about my job: the pain fades quickly.
So here it is. I’ve shown you the cover before, but now the buy-buttons are up on sarahgraves.net and LargeFemaleWarrior.com is showing the sales ranking for pre-orders (Must. Not. Look.). That means it’s real, and not only that, it’s Out There where other people will read it, and some of them might like it but some certainly won’t, and…Must. Not. Fret. Because that pile of typed-on paper that I was so glad to see the back of as it went out the door? It isn’t mine anymore. Can’t change a word of it. Besides, while people are reading (one hopes) WINTER — the one in which ex-Boston murder cop Lizzie Snow moves to Bearkill, Maine in search of her long-lost niece, accompanied by her faithless, hot-as-a-pistol ex-lover Dylan Hudson and pursued (unbeknownst to her) by an Evil Dude — I’m writing the next book.
So I’m feeling reasonably serene. Or as serene as I can be, anyway, when any moment anybody with a typing finger will be able to explain at length, in public and using many words of well over one syllable, just why I should’ve kept that job at Radio Shack. (Although to be fair, I’ve had some v. useful, perceptive criticism from that contingent, too.) But by then I’ll be pretty well distracted by the next book’s premise, which is: what if you were kidnapped and thrown into a cage with two other victims, and you alone escaped. You’d tell the cops, right? But — what if you didn’t? That’s the notion occupying me these days, and it’s keeping me too busy to worry about other people’s typing fingers.
Onward, then. We here in Eastport are gearing up for a sloppy winter storm: first snow, then sleet turning to rain, following by a cold snap that promises to transform it all to glare ice for the rest of the winter. Once that happens I’ll be tottering around in boots with spikes on their soles, breathing through layers of wool to keep my lungs from freezing, and begging the dog to hurry. But up in my office there’s a heating pad to toast my feet, a laptop to keep my knees warm, and a twenty-year-old green angora cableknit sweater with vintage buttons to pull over my shoulders. Not to mention that next book’s premise, luring me slyly along…and as Lizzie Snow will be happy to tell you in WINTER AT THE DOOR, Dylan Hudson is still hot, hot, hot.
Gr3at post, Sarah! I’m with you … my next series debuts tomorrow, too! Knocking on wood for both of us!
We should both of us break a leg, right?
Hi Sarah. Happy new year and thanks for the glimpse into your writer’s life. One of your comments about a recent manuscript: ” It isn’t mine anymore” got me thinking. Is it a good thing, bad thing, or something else that once a fiction manuscript is out in the marketplace it is in some sense not the author’s anymore? Is it possible, or desirable, for books to be living, changing entities with which the authors are constantly tweaking or enhancing? Contemporary technology would certainly allow that, although current book publishing practices, and perhaps the demands of a writer’s life, may not.
It is indeed possible for books to be changed, as for instance when one comes out in a new edition (in my books that’s code for “some mistakes corrected”). But to be constantly tweaking sounds like torture to me, and also (you should forgive my commercial leanings) like poverty, as I doubt there would be any payment for it.
Good point. Text book authors do make money from frequent tweaking thus eliminating the second hand market but the marketing of fiction doesn’t seem to work that way. BTW the one text I co-wrote didn’t make it to a second edition partly because my coauthor, who was a good friend before writing with me, and I couldn’t face writing a second edition, together or separately.