Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My Next Book

I’m thinking about my next Samuel Craddock book. It’s going to be dynamite. Brilliant, actually. Every word of it will be breathtakingly beautiful. A literary tour de force—but also an intriguing, genre-bending, complex mystery. And the characters—don’t even get me started on the depth and breadth of the characters. They’ll leap off the page. Everyone will think they actually know the characters. I’ll get so many emails and letters that I’ll have to hire a secretary to keep up with answering them.

I won’t have enough shelf space for all the awards this book will win. It will fly off the shelves. An overnight sensation. TV and radio interviews. Speaking engagements, audio contracts, movie deals, foreign sales will fall into my lap. Other writers will read the book and say, “Well, I may as well close up my computer and take a course in how to be an electrician. No way I can compete with her wonderful book.” It’ll sell at least a million copies. I can already start spending the money. It’s a sure thing.

Ha! Ever had these thoughts before? Yeah, neither have I. May I suggest that a little pill called Percoset might have something to do with this fantasy? Yep, that’s where the high-flown thought came from.

Maybe we writers could use more of this kind of feverish self-confidence when we sit down in front of the blank page. Instead, I get this:  I? Write a book? Are you kidding? The others were flukes—this time I’ll crash and burn! My characters will be wooden, the prose forgettable, the descriptions trite, the plot indecipherable. Blah, blah, blah.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have that bit of fantasy to spur us on? Not at the cost of taking a drug, it isn’t. At least not to me. I’ve been taking it for pain, and I can’t wait to stop. Give me plain old reality over this drug-induced grandiosity. Maybe I’m too invested in the Puritan work ethic: the goal isn’t worth achieving if it doesn’t involve some struggle. But somehow I feel that if I don’t have to put in some hard hours, the book will be forgettable at best, atrocious at worst.

Sure, I have some moments when I feel exhilarated, when I’m thinking, “I think that paragraph worked,” or, “Hmmm, that character is finally coming to me.” It’s a reward I get for rewriting the paragraph ten times, or for obsessing about a character’ background and motivations. In cold, hard reality, that will have to do.

So I’m the fantasy aside and getting back to work. Oh, yes, but first I have to write a list of actors I think would play Samuel Craddock in the movie.


SusanB said...

I imagine myself being interviewed by Scott Simon on NPR :-)

Anonymous said...

To be as successful with my first novel as Harper Lee was with hers--
that's my Percoset fantasy.

Cherie OBoyle said...

Kind of makes you wonder where personality really comes from if it can be altered so dramatically with one pill, huh? Hope you feel better soon.