8/04/2010

How Books Are Like Moonshine

When I'm drafting a book, I'm not thinking about my audience. I'm thinking about the characters and what they're telling me, where they want their stories to go. I listen. Yes, to my own subconscious.

The way I write breaks down like this:

Draft One: Dialogue and basic emotion
Draft Two: Setting, description and blocking
Draft Three: Speech tags and nuance
Draft Four:  Deeper emotion and subtext

And then I do all that again, ten or fifteen times, in different orders, depending on the subplots and any main plot changes. 

Until now, my stories have existed in my head. Since HOURGLASS is my debut, I've never had to really step outside the pages and think about my actual readers - what my words might influence them to believe, what I might unconsciously promote when I'm telling a story. 

HOURGLASS started with The Organic Ingredients of Myra's Brain. I cooked up The First Draft for a period of time until it became sour mash, or This Draft is as Good As I Can Make It By Myself. 

It ran through cold water (my agent) in copper tubing (my editor) and is now in the process of distilling into The Edited Final Version. Sooner than I think it will go between Two Hard Covers (into a glass jar) and be ready for consumption.

And anyone who makes moonshine will tell you that taking a drink can take you to the highest heights with one shot. 

Or, it can kill you. 

What's between those pages is a risk. There's a weight to putting this book out there that I didn't expect.

My characters aren't me, but they're part of me. They are flawed, some of them horribly. There are faults that are acceptable in characters, and faults that aren't. Flaws that will get your ass handed to you by readers and critics. It's a delicate balance.

And the thing is, no one really knows. I don't know if what I've written could be offensive until I have readers. A REALLY WIDE sampling of readers. And I won't get a wide sampling of readers until the book is published, and then my friends, it's too late to change things. 

I almost wish I could put a disclaimer at the bottom of every page, one that read something like: 

I'm sorry if anything on this page angered you, hurt your feelings, or otherwise harmed you. I totally didn't mean it. If you'll send me your shipping address, I will mail you a one year supply of the pastry of your choice. 

P and S: Your hair looks awesome today.  

But that's not possible. Darn it. So here's how I survive the terror:

I have an immense amount of faith in my Excellent Editor. She's wise, she has experience, she wants this book to succeed just as much as I do. So does my agent, so does my publishing house. Public reaction is out of my control - out of anyone's control, really. Because I am committed to and love what I do, I take a new leap of faith daily. And I have to have faith in MY story.

Considering that stepping out in faith is what put me here in the first place? 

*holds out hypothetical shot glass* 

Pour me another drink. 

9 comments:

  1. I for one am looking forward to reading it. I bet its the kind of moonshine that is super fabulous and doesn't kill me. or if it does kill me, it will kill me with awesome. :)

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  2. I don't really need to say that I know exactly how you feel, do I? I guess I will. I know exactly how you feel. We'll just have to be brave together. Well, not really together, but simultaneously.

    Kick some butt, Myra.

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  3. I can't wait to drink the Moonshine. It's going to sparkle with the Awesome, just like you. Thanks for being brave.

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  4. Fear is normal. Remember you can't be all things to everyone otherwise it would just be boring. Getting a reader to feel about your story is the sign of a good writer. The feelings may not always be positive but the fact that people have them is a good sign that they are invested.

    Deep breathing and NO more shots! LOL

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  5. Oh how I would love a year's supply of the pastry of my choice. Or an assortment! And now I want moonshine. In a jug. With x's on it. Because that's how I roll.

    Imagine if you could get drunk off a book...wait, I might have...

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  6. Yes, yes, yes.

    I am right there with you.

    PS: Your hair looks awesome today.

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  7. My neighbours and I had an argument about author responsibility re: Twilight.

    But really, pretty much all fairy tale type stories have a woman submit to a male somehow. And a good said have males with controlling undertones.

    So, it happens sometimes you say something, and people take it the wrong way. That's no reason never to talk!

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  8. You can't win everybody over. You just have to write the best book you can and be completely honest with your characters.

    And you might want to take back that pastry offer because even people who love your book might take you up on that!!

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  9. I absolutely cannot wait to take a picture of me holding YOUR book!

    I am really looking forward to yours and Tawna Fenske's books.

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