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Friday, February 20, 2009

Old Project versus New Project

Before I get into the topic I wanted to talk about today, I have two random things to say. One, Happy Birthday Kurt Cobain. He would have been 42 today and I miss him. Maybe it's silly but I've never been shy about the fact that Nirvana's my favorite band and since I discovered them when I was twelve, I'm obsessed. Things that mattered a lot when I was a kid/teen tend to make a really deep imprint.

Secondly, it's the deadline for my "Inspired By" contest. I extended the deadline til late Sunday night for all you procrastinators out there, though. So please get your entries in. You can read all the details on my website.

Now on to the topic at hand. So I had a big self-imposed/agent-imposed (she's always flexible so that's why it's more self-imposed) deadline to meet today. I need to get my proposal for my next book to her so she can review it, I can revise it, and then we can send it on to my lovely editor in hopes that MTV Books will want to publish it.

I have a really great idea for this book. I expounded a little bit about it over at the Teen Fiction Cafe today so you can read that blog and get a vague sense of it. At least I think its a good idea. Sometimes. Sometimes I hear those inner critics telling me how much I'm going to be mocked for this book, that I'm not a good enough writer to write it. Sigh. I hate those guys. They've been really getting me down lately, but I do my best to ignore them. But the real struggle with this has actually been that this is the first time I'm writing a proposal for a book to submit to the publisher rather than just writing the entire manuscript and submitting it. The proposal (at least in my case, I know they can vary) includes the first 50ish pages and a synopsis. When I submitted full manuscripts in the past my agent always asked for a synopsis to go along with it and I totally sucked at writing them even though I'd already written the whole book and knew exactly what was going on. Now that I've only written the first 50 pages of the book and maybe about 40 or 50 pages from random scenes (I'm not always a linear writer. BALLADS was written linearly, but IWBYJR and this one, not so much), I really really suck at writing that synopsis. I know the beginning, I have a pretty good idea about the end, I've got a grip on a few random things in the middle, but there are big chunks where though I know the major plot point (these characters plot an act of revenge against this character), I have no idea about the details.

So I have to say I was in agony writing this proposal. I procrastinated terribly. And mostly because of the synopsis. The actual manuscript pages are pretty solid... Mostly... I have some nagging self-doubts largely because I'm trying new things. But yeah. Anyway, I sent it off. Not feeling very good. Asking agent for notes and pointers. Sent it to a critique partner asking for notes and pointers as well. Usually I'd want to perfect it a bit more myself, but I was too excited to get that off my desk and get into this:

What the hell is that, you ask? That, my darlings, is copyedits for BALLADS OF SUBURBIA. When my lovely editor emailed me on Wednesday and let me know they would be coming on Friday, due back March 4, I sort of panicked (I had some critique partner work I wanted to get to reading next week, but my CPs are everso understanding), but mostly I sighed in relief. Oh thank god, I don't want to try to work on this new novel. I want tackle the very final round of revising and perfecting BALLADS.

I hear those who know me well snorting whatever they happen to be drinking while reading this out of their noses. They are thinking, "But Stephanie, revisions on BALLADS nearly caused you several nervous breakdowns. You've said yourself, you don't feel fully recovered from it yet, why in the name of all that is holy..."

A few reasons:

1. I've had enough time away from BALLADS to convince myself that I'm happy with it. But at the same time, I know it is not finished. It needs that last round of minor tweaks that is the copyediting process to be complete. I'm hoping that I will go through the copyedits and discover like I did with IWBYJR that I did actually write a book I can be proud of. And then it will be complete. Or as close to complete as an author can ever feel there book is. But it will be done. Other than page proofs, I will be done with BALLADS and be able to fully commit to work on another project.

2. I'm actually terrified to fully committing to a new project. I haven't done so since 2007 when I finished BALLADS. I wrote IWBYJR, wrote BALLADS in 2006/2007, then have been dealing with editing either IWBYJR or BALLADS since that point. In the spaces in between I have been flirting with three different novels. Eventually I narrowed it down to two and finally to this one I am working on the proposal for. But I'm insecure about my decision. Is this the best time to write this particular novel? I think so... But I'm having commitment issues. That other novel wants to be written now too. I've always flirted with different ideas, but ultimately ended up being monogamous, writing one book at a time. Maybe I thought, maybe this time I could write two. No, no, no. I'm still working part time and I have a wedding to plan and BALLADS to promote.

3. I'm making excuses because honestly I think I'm scared that I just can't write another book all the way through. I know it's a silly fear. I've done it twice. Maybe that feels like a long time ago. But I can do it. I just hate first drafts. I really do. I like revising. And I adore copyediting. Oh, I hope that doesn't bite me in the ass. I said I loved revising before I started revising BALLADS and then I got horribly hateful of revising and wished I could write my new book.

4. (Are these even reasons anymore or just my train of thinking in list form?) The grass is always greener on the other side. Revising, etc., seems so much better than trying to struggle with a new manuscript. Though when you are struggling with revising...

But anyway, I think I really will feel ready to attack my new project after the copyedits are done. I'm just one of those people who needs the job to be done fully and completely before moving on to other things. Like my fiance, it drives me crazy when he cleans the entire bathroom EXCEPT for washing the floor and then he doesn't wash the floor for three or four days.... Umm, wait... I just cleaned the kitchen on Tuesday and still haven't done the floor... But that's because of my deadline. I'm going to go do the floor right now.

So, excuse my very stream of consciousness post and tell me, do like just focusing on one project til it is absolutely perfect or do you like bouncing around to many projects? Do you get kind of scared when you have to jump in and start something brand new? (I definitely do, hence staying in crappy jobs forever and then quitting the crappy job to go back to an old, safe job.) And if any writers out there have synopsis advice or advice about any of my other writing madness feel free to leave it!


EmDee said...

Bouncer for sure. But that yields the old saying, "Jack of all trades, master of none." I would much prefer being exceptional at one thing that being smart and able to do many things. Sometimes. :-)

Can't wait to hear more, Stephanie!

Jan Blazanin said...

I'm more of a one project kind of person. That said, while I'm writing I'm definitely a bouncer--from laundry to dog-walking to cake-baking to anything else that gets me out of my chair for a minute or ten.

And starting new projects scares me, too. Two days ago I finished a ms I'd been working on for months in between revisions and edits for FAIREST OF THEM ALL. I'm already panicking because I don't have a full-blown idea for a new story in my mind. I have niggles and wibbles, but nothing complete. So I know what you're saying.