Friday, April 19, 2013

THE TRUTH ABOUT WRITING AND THE CRAZY HAT

Let me begin by saying I was first published a helluva long time ago. I was eleven years old in fact. That one little event shaped my life, top to bottom. 
I'll skip all the in between crap and fast forward to eight years ago. I had given up screenwriting and I'd closed my little flower shop (the day job) to write Romance.
I then studied romance.
I wrote romance and some other things.
And I studied all the while.
Then I got an agent.
Then I wrote some more.
Then I published.
Then I made money.
Then I started wearing the crazy hat.

Kind of like the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter books, the crazy hat talks to you.
It tells you to write faster.
Readers ask you to write faster.
And when the money is good, spouses become the embodiment of encouragement. They become enablers. They think they are enabling the writing--they are enabling the crazy hat.

The crazy hat helps you do all the math to prove that twelve books in a year is absolutely doable.
It proves it with magic algorithms that consider hours in the day, typing speed, and the consumption rate of both caffeine and chocolate. It proves you can do it. You know you can do it. You start telling other people how dedicated you are to doing it.

You promise readers the next book in the series will be out in a specific month. When the hat is particularly convincing, you might even set a date, a CONCRETE date. You mistakenly believe that the pressure of that deadline will lift you like the perfect surf and land you on the beach in the exact spot where you'd planned to land. Then, the weather in your life changes along with the extended forecast. Horrified, you sneak onto your website and change the date and hope no one notices.

Then they notice.
And there is nothing you can do about it except put on the crazy hat and enlist its aid to summon the muses. You pay your teenager to duct tape you into your chair. You pay other people to block you from the internet and all its distractions. You read about the process of other writers/artists. You learn every trick in the book and you use them.

And the story comes.
And it's brilliant. 
And it keeps coming. And you love it.
And you sing praises to the crazy hat. You know you'll finish the book by a certain date and you plan a launch party.
And still the story comes. And comes.
And that book you planned to be short and sweet has so much more behind it than you thought. And you know the readers will be cheated if you don't tell it all.
So you keep writing...

Everything I've learned about fiction writing has brought me to where I stand today. I'm grateful for everything I've learned thus far. I will learn evermore. But no matter how many hours I keep my fingers on this keyboard, the absolute truth is the book will be finished when it's ready to be finished. 

I've written a book in three days. I've written one in three weeks. I've written some in three months. No matter how well I plan, there is no magic formula I can use to say when a book's FINAL draft will be done. When the final edits will be in. When the book will be available to readers.

Do I still have crazy hat goals? Yes. Do I believe I can write 12 books in a year? Yes. If I didn't believe the crazy hat, I wouldn't be a writer.

Will I hit my crazy writing goal tomorrow? Absolutely. Will I get my first draft finished by my expected date? Very likely considering the rate I'm writing. So, can I guess when the next book will hit the shelves? Not on your life. 

The crazy hat lies.
I wear it anyway.
LL

*Thanks to all of you who keep checking back to see if something new is out.
Thanks a MILLION to all of you who read my books in other genres while you are waiting for your favorites. You have made my career a smashing success.

4 comments:

Sandy L. Rowland said...

Wear the crazy hat and smile!
Love ya, Lesli!!!

Sandy said...

Loved the post. I need a crazy hat. You are so talented. Love all the stories you've created so far. So just keep wearing the hat.

L.L. Muir said...

I think maybe that's why I loved the Sorting Hat so much in Harry Potter. It felt like home...that voice talking in my head that wasn't mine...

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