Thursday, January 20, 2011

Aftermath

It's an odd feeling, finishing the writing of a book.

For thirteen months I was immersed in the world of my new novel. I wrote with a constant sense of urgency, even though the only deadlines I faced were my own. I was having a blast writing it, yet at the same time, I wanted it to be done and out in the world like, yesterday.

Over the past year, when people have asked, "How's the book?" or "What are you working on now?" I've mostly answered, "Fine," or given my vague two-sentence description and left it at that. I've learned the hard way that the more I talk about a novel-in-progress, the less drive I have to actually write it. It's as if I have a well of creative energy to draw on, but that well is finite; I can spend it talking, or I can spend it writing. So I played it close to the vest. Instead, I poured everything I had onto the page.

And now it's done. Thirteen months, two major drafts (plus a lightning-fast "clean-up" draft), 100,000 words. The very last thing: attaching the cover page. I never type the cover page until the manuscript is ready to go. I don't know why. But it's become a little ritual, the official symbol of completion. Then I sent the manuscript winging through email to my agent.

Done.

Since then, I've felt rudderless. The sense of urgency I've lived with for over a year is suddenly gone. With any luck, it'll be back; if the novel gets picked up by a publisher, then there will be rounds of revisions, copyedits and first-pass pages, all with deadlines I'll be scrambling to meet. But for now, it's out of my hands. I have that sort of disoriented, blinking-in-the-sunshine feeling I always get when a book is finished. Now what do I do?

The answer, of course, is "plenty." Blogging to catch up on, not to mention all the lovely social media which I've neglected for months. Cleaning up the enormous stacks of manuscript pages and books in my office. Guest blogs and interviews (more on those later!) Updates to my website. Training and playing with the new puppy. Starting the next book. Oh, and now that this novel is done...

...I finally get to tell you what it's about.

While on an education abroad trip in Italy, 17-year-old Dessa discovers that the world is about to be destroyed. Infinitely worse, the only person capable of saving it is her ex-best friend, Skylar. Skylar is careless, selfish, and unless saving all humankind comes with its own reality show, she has zero interest in being its chosen heroine. Somebody has to make sure some actual world-saving gets done, so—aided by a rugby player from New Zealand with a bum knee, a 13-year-old with a talent for sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong, and a quest guide who may or may not be a raving lunatic—Dessa reluctantly becomes the sidekick to a girl she’s barely spoken to since they were seven years old.

But her problems are just beginning. How does a motley group of teens with an uncooperative heroine convince a parallel Earth that its discovery of limitless energy—which is about to turn that world into a paradise—is responsible for their own world’s destruction? As if that little issue isn't stressful enough, Dessa also has to figure out how to deal with a rogue pug, an annoying yet completely irresistible ex-boyfriend, and revelations about her childhood that threaten to upend everything she thought she knew about Skylar, their shared past…and Dessa herself.

13 comments:

Lisa Nowak said...

WOW! I want to read that book right now. Too bad the publishing world is so incredibly slow. It's cool that all your books are so different from each other. It makes me wonder what you'll come up with next. :)

Christine Fletcher said...

Thanks, Lisa! Actually, if I was smart, all my books would be similar...that way I'd be "branded." Which I hear is a good thing. Unfortunately the idea gnome living in my brain is an unpredictable little sucker. ;)

Melissa Marsh said...

Sounds intriguing, Christine! Congrats on typing "THE END" and make sure to reward yourself. Here's hoping your agent sells it FAST!!!

Christine Fletcher said...

One day I may get back to WWII, Melissa! But for now, this particular speculative fiction niche has my heart. :) And yes, a reward for finishing is in store...as soon as I have time to spare (ha!)

Walter Rowntree said...

I'm with Lisa - WOW!
And I am going to read this book even if it doesn't get published!
I remember you mentioning trying your hand at Science Fiction, and I'm really looking forward to this! WOW!

Christine Fletcher said...

It's less sci fi than it is speculative fiction...virtually no tech, almost all "what if?" That's the kind I like best, because it's the most fun!

*worshipping at the altar of Margaret Atwood*

Patti said...

Sounds interesting, love the rogue group of teenagers.

I know what you mean about talking about the book. It kind of takes the allure out of it.

Christine Fletcher said...

Patti, I made that mistake years ago on an earlier novel I never finished. I couldn't resist the instant gratification of telling the story to anyone who would listen. After a while, I lost the drive to tell the story on the page. Never again!

Catherine Ensley said...

Oh, I apologize for asking you when you're coming out with a new book (in the post on our pets), when I should've read below and seen that you've just finished a MS. But I am curious--I'm aware that you were published by Bloomsbury in the past, and so why isn't this book already contracted with them? Does Bloomsbury NOT buy on proposal, but only on finished manuscripts? Or did your editor leave? (Showing my ignorance on the publishing process, here.)

Christine Fletcher said...

Hi, Catherine! Great question. The answer is that the new book is completely different from anything I've ever done. It would be a big leap for a publisher to commit to a proposal without knowing whether or not I could pull it off. So I wrote the entire manuscript on spec. Now we'll see what people think... :)

Catherine Ensley said...

Good luck! Dystopian is so hot right now. I read one that I thought was quite dull, was a debut title, published with Little Brown, if I remember correctly. I know the author got something like $25,000 even for that ... not shabby, for a debut title.

karen said...

Congratulations Christine!!! Your new book sounds fascinating, can not wait to read it! Hope you (and we) don't have to wait too long before some publisher is smart enough to snap it up. Hurrah for that clever idea gnome of yours.

Christine Fletcher said...

Thanks, karen! I do love my idea gnome...when he isn't sleeping on the job. :)