Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The NeverEnding Story

by Robison E. Wells (the E stands for Leading A Life Of Quiet Desperation)

Yesterday, I drove down to scenic Covenant Communications and returned the final typeset proof of The Counterfeit to my editor. You'd think it's a big milestone, but it isn't. In fact, I can say without the slightest exaggeration, that I've contemplated writing a Hooray-The-Book-Is-Finally-Finished blog for the past four weeks. I keep thinking it's done, and yet it never is.

This week, though, I have high hopes. It can't be postponed any more -- it has to go to print this week to make the scheduled release date. (Of course, it had to go to print May 1st to make the July 1st schedule, too, but we somehow found a loophole to allow us more time.)

Hop aboard the Wayback Machine, and follow me on a journey back to the start of my writing career. It was a sunny spring morning in March of 2003 when I got the call from Covenant's managing editor that they'd accepted On Second Thought (OST) for publication. (The call came moments before I was to take a midterm exam for History 1710, and you can imagine how difficult it was to concentrate on the test.) (Not that I ever studied for it, though, or even went to class regularly.)

So, over the next year I went through the editing process for OST, and I wrote Wake Me When It's Over. Wake Me was accepted by Covenant in December '03, a few months before OST was released. And here's the thing: The Counterfeit is a sequel to Wake Me. In other words, I've been working on this consarned thing for two and a half years. And I'm getting a little tired of it.

A brief timeline, wherein I have made up all the dates, and most of the events:

December 2003: I started work on The Counterfeit. I cannibalized a large part of it from a romantic comedy that I'd previously worked on. (The romantic comedy was about an introverted college kid who is obsessed with Spiderman.) (Why? Who knows.)

March 2004: I finally mapped out the entire plot of the three-book series, and things made a weird kind of sense in my head. The three books each focused on one of three different roommates, and how they fit into the larger story. (Wake Me focused on Eric, Book 2 focused on Baxter, and Book 3 focused on Davis.)

June 2004: I threw out the weird Spiderman stuff, because it was uber-lame, and the book moved much more smoothly from there.

July 2004: I had almost twenty chapters. Awesome chapters, too. Rad to the max chapters.

August 2004: My hard drive crashed, and I wept bitter, bitter tears. I was in the proverbial Gall Of Bitterness, as it were. Had I backed up everything on a disk? Nope. Will I obsessively back everything up in the future? Also nope. Am I lazy to my own destruction? Yep.

September 2004 to December 2004: The long dark teatime of the soul. Depression. Anger. Not wanting to rewrite twenty chapters, and unable to make them as awesome as they were before. Weeping.

January 2005: Wake Me is released to much critical praise and not so much sales. More weeping.

February 2005: Remapped the entire series, and tossed the third book altogether. The second book focuses on the same characters as Wake Me, finishing their story in one book instead of two.

February 2005, part 2: I decide that part of the book will take place in the scenic San Juan Islands of Washington State. We take a family trip to the area, and look around. I sneak into the unoccupied hotel room next to our own and write all night. Things go quite well.

March 2005 to May 2005: The book is written in a whirlwind of typing and tears. It's pretty dang rad.

June 2005: Away it goes to Covenant!

Some undefined period of time, 2005: Things happen.

January 2006: Time to rewrite the entire freaking thing! Six chapters of the book remain relatively untouched, the rest gets the axe. Same characters, new plot.

February 2006: My wife lays in bed at night, watching me sleep, and contemplates smothering me with a pillow. "No one will ever know," thinks she. "He never leaves the house as it is. I could go years and years using the excuse 'He's just in the office, writing.'"

April 2006 to May 2006: Editing and such. Much introspection. Tears. A lot of email correspondence with my editor, wherein we discuss that maybe it would just be easier to pay Kerry Blair to write the book for me.

Yesterday, 2006: I return the typeset to Covenant. I sit in their conference room and hammer out two emergency paragraphs. My editor and I discuss the fact that she hates me. Also, we discuss movies.

Today 2006 through Friday 2006: I keep my fingers crossed, hoping that there will be no more last minute changes. More tears.

Next week, 2006: Devastating fire at the printers. Mysterious computer failures at Covenant and my house. All is for naught.


At 5/23/2006 1:16 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Reading back through that, I change tenses more often than I rewrite my book.

It's not crappy writing; it's edgy and rule-breaking!

At 5/23/2006 1:32 PM, Anonymous Franklin Fitzgerald Frog, Esquire said...


At 5/23/2006 5:32 PM, Blogger Matthew Buckley said...

This is why authors drink so much gatorade. It's to replace the salt we lose, what with all the weeping going on.

At 5/23/2006 8:40 PM, Blogger JWH said...

WHAT? I have to drink gatorade to be an author? Is that why I'm not published yet? Besides JK Rowling I'd like to read about some LDS novelist who makes it big over-night. Without the frustrating 10 years or so full of heart break and tears. yea yea yea I'm sure there is a lot of growing and maturing during those years, and you are suppose to appreciate things more when you work hard for them, but I work hard enough in other areas of my life, can't this area be easy?

At 5/23/2006 11:32 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

If you want one of those overnight success stories involving an LDS author, JWH, check out Stephenie Meyers. Happened just that way. She dreamed her national bestseller (which has already been purchased -- in a bidding war, no less -- by a movie studio).

And did I mention she literally dreamed up the idea? Do I dream about vampires? Noooo. I dream about...hmmm...I can never remember what I dream about. Could that be my problem?

Seriously, Stephenie is a talented, terrific lady. And, yes, I'm spelling her name right!

At 5/23/2006 11:35 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Oops. I spelled her first name right, but I whiffed the last. It's Meyer, not Meyers. Sorry. I should have checked. I know I have a memory like a sieve...

At 5/24/2006 1:14 AM, Blogger JWH said...

So very awesome! I'll be checking into that - I love learning about good things happening to good people! By the way I'm setting up a MSN Spaces site I'm sure you don't mind that I put your blog and personal sites in my favorite lists right? Yes instead of writing this past week I've been browsing sites. At this rate I will never get my manuscript to Robison to critique,J/K. This is for all 6 bloggers. As for the Frog ummmm. . . I'm partial to roosters. All right I got to go see what I can find on Stephenie Meyer

At 5/24/2006 5:50 PM, Blogger Steven said...

Yes, I'm a new commenter. Anyway, congratulations on getting your book done. I'm one of those legendary "wannabes" so I know how it is to be "not done" when "done" is what you want to be.

I hope that made sense. Anyway, congratulations


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