Junkie

If there is a rich, creamy center to the writing process, I’m in it right now.

I know, I know; I promised I was taking some time off, but…there was just something so juicy, so rewarding, about having a blank Scrivener document open in one window and the Nekhet sales report open in another. One’s finished and in consumption; the other’s blank – and under construction. Yin and yang; white and black. So I started sketching some ideas, and one thing led to another, and I looked up to find myself 3,000 words into the next book. I wasn’t even going to start until September? What gives?

Endorphins. That’s what. There’s no other explanation. And their potent cocktail is a-swirl in my grey matter thanks to the juxtaposition of two very pleasant parts of the writing process.

A little background. In descending order, I’d have to rank the bookwriting tasks as follows, from most pleasant to least:

  1. Ideation and scene sketching (where I am now)
  2. Finishing and publishing the book (more relief than anything else)
  3. Story outline assembled (this is a good feeling)
  4. Scene construction
  5. Gamma read (the most enjoyable of the three)
  6. Alpha read
  7. Beta read
  8. Final editing and production (painful and frustrating, respectively)

Now, we’re not talking about the difference between licking the beater and rising at dawn to go work on an asphalt crew here. Writing a book’s damn fun, but there are sections that involve running joyfully down flowering hills, and there are parts that are more like…well, work. Editing, in particular, is just a tripartite grind; you’re asking yourself to completely change perspectives and focus, three times, at three different levels, on a book you’ve already written. The first time (alpha), you’re looking to see if it’s a book. The second time (beta), you’re making sure continuity’s being respected. The third time (gamma), you’re making sure your participles aren’t dangling. (Oops! <zzzzzip>) Those reads aren’t nearly as much fun as coming up with the book concept in the beginning, or building scenes and dialogue, or watching the plot begin to mesh – or seeing your work up on Amazon.

But finishing one, and contemplating starting the next, puts me recently in completion of task (2) and in the throes of task (1), which has really led me to begin wondering whether authors don’t at some point become serial-publishing junkies based on that confluence of endorphins. Contrast April with February of 2012 (tasks 6 and 7) and March (5 and 8), and you can see the late stages of  a book add up to a pretty unpleasant load of tasks (both months’ task ranks, not surprisingly, sum to 13). But oh, the end of one and the beginning of another. It’s everything you first get into writing for – a sense of accomplishment and a wide-open vista of creative possibilities.  I haven’t been here before, so the giddy rush of pleasure that’s been circulating my cerebral cortex for the last week is an entirely new experience – and a really, really good one. I can certainly see how there’s a profound sense of loss once a series wraps up – and how authors can be tempted to do just one more, even if the story’s done.

It runs downhill, you see. It’s never better than it is right now; then you get going with the next one, and before you know it, you’ve got the story structure in place, you’re finishing scene construction, and then it’s down the long road to alpha, beta, and gamma readings. Then you’re making sure Microsoft Word points the fucking smart quotes the right way, and thenceforth into the hell that is KF8 formatting and the Nook publishing engine. And it’s never darker than the moment before you press the submit button on the Amazon and BN pages.

And once this one’s finished, I expect a blank Scrivener page will beckon once again. As Ministry famously warned…just one fix.

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