Wednesday, July 9, 2008


A dry-eraser board hangs in my office. Every time I start a book, I write the names of my characters on the board. Just catching a glimpse of one of those names pulls me back into the story.

In the middle of the board there is a date. It's the date I plan to send in the manuscript. The theory is that if I see that date it will keep me focused and on target. What's the current date on the board? March 23, 2007. I know. I'm late. That's not the first date that was on that board for this book. I don't remember that date.

The manuscript was sent to my editor, Christy, in September. It was sent back in January for a revision, but I never bothered to put an updated deadline on the board. I'm envious of writers who meet their deadlines. Finding my way through a novel takes time.

I'm often asked, does it get easier? No, it doesn't. Each time I start a novel I feel as if I'm learning to write a story all over again. Bumpy prose, awkward plotting, weak characterization--it's all there. I've never felt comfortable referring to myself as an author. When I'm deep in the trenches, wordsmith seems more fitting.

I'm nearing the finish line of this stage with the book, but it won't be ready tomorrow, the last date I gave Christy. That means I will begin my writing day by doing two things--sending another update to her and changing the date on the board.

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