By Laura Spinella
Last January, I did a crazy thing. I booked a cruise. It leaves in two weeks. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I mean, we were snowbound in Boston. Short of an igloo in Alaska, it doesn’t get more inspiring in terms of wishing for sea breezes and warm weather. Aside from this, I also had a subplot for choosing my cruise calendar. I was just getting into the heart of a hefty revision. Carefully, I anticipated how long it might take to address three and one-half pages of detailed notes, seamlessly integrating them into my latest novel. Pffffft! Can you say rewrite? Anyway, back then, I was determined not to head off for sun and fun with a book hanging over my head. I’d want one in my lap, an umbrella drink in my hand.
Damn, if I wasn’t right on the money. This week I am finished—or as close to finished as any of us gets. That stage where everyone in your house hates you, because you’re far more involved in the lives of characters than the people you live with. Here’s another great tipoff that you’ve reached the end: Randomly open your novel. Read a five-word sentence. If you can name its context within the manuscript, you’re toast. But the real kicker for me, the blue ribbon finish line, is the story. No, not the one in the book. The additional ones I start to write in my head. Sooooo, like, after the last page, what happened then? Well, Aubrey moves to… Start entertaining those scenarios, and you know it’s time to call it quits. Seriously, this book, while I think worth it, required every bit of know-how I had, and an awful lot of shit I had to make up.
That’s not to say it’s a perfect book. Far from it, as I’m sure some reviewer will point out in the future. Perfection in writing is elusive. What’s not so elusive are the twelve-pages of boarding passes I recently printed and the daily emails inviting me to sign up for Bottomless Beer Boat packages, dolphin swimming, and my choice of eight various types of snorkeling. A cruise? I don’t cruise. What was I thinking? I know, see paragraph one. January in Boston. It will rattle your bones and clearly your brain. “What a great prize for getting this book done and submitted... Sure...” So now it seems I am committed. How appropriate, really. After completing these revisions committed feels like a go-to kind of word.
This brings me around to our new theme for this cycle: the crazies we write about. I considered covering that topic. There are more than a few damaged characters lurking among the pages of my books. But right now, I think I’m supposed to be in character uncoupling mode. I’m supposed to be packing, literally and figuratively. Apparently, I’m destined to climb aboard a luxury liner that wants to fill me with alcohol and sail me away to exciting venues. They want to dazzle me with adventure and inflict new people into my introverted, one-trick-pony life. But I don’t know. It feels as if there’s a “been there, done that” component to this pending agenda. Reluctant vacationer? Perhaps. But it seems to me that I just spent six months in my writing room trying to achieve the exact same thing.
Laura Spinella is the very exhausted author of the award-winning Beautiful Disaster and newly released Perfect Timing. She'll be back from va-kay soon. Visit her at LauraSpinella.net.