Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Salvaging the day

mixed, cloudy, rainy, cooler, temps 23

Much more livable today. Quite a relief. It rained last night but this morning was sunny and steamy. We went for our walk, went swimming, were lying out by the pool without much on (towels, thankfully) when Wayne drove in. Now normally he cuts the lawn on Thursday but he wanted to get it done before storms moved in.

So we scrambled to cover up - not wanting to give Wayne a heart attack - then headed in for breakfast.

Pretty good way to start the day. but it went south after that. Worked for about 3 hours on the book - doing quite a bit of re-writing, not just editing. This fifth book, as you'll see, is fairly complex. But the trick is not to make it appear all that complex, but allow the layers to naturally appear. And now that I know what those layers are, and the progress of each character, I need to go over the existing manuscript chapter by chapter and re-work it. shape it.

Each book seems to be different. This feels more like A FATAL GRACE/DEAD COLD. Not in content at all, but in the approach to writing it. but where I was filled with fear writing the second book - not uncommon apparently - this time I'm not at all. A little tired perhaps. Not of the writing, but of everything else. My own fault. Really do need to get better at saying 'no' to things. Though I am at least getting better, but room for improvement. But I do hate saying no when I got so much help when starting out.


Then, just as I neared the end of a complete re-write of chapter 15 the screen went blank then came up, but the Word programme wouldn't work. The entire ms had disappeared. i stared at the screen, disbelieving. then I (what else) called Michael. Gallant, wonderful man. He dropped what he was doing (writing his own book) and hurried down.

It looked as though I'd lost at least an hours work - which was odd since I save at least every 10 minutes and I thought the machine automatically saved. But it was showing the last save as an hour earlier. I felt nauseous. Sat in a chair across from Michael trying not to ask 'How's it going', and remembering what his books about - treating and screening for Neuroblastoma in children. Whatever his diagnosis of my book and the computer, the news would never approach some news he's had to give.

it was strangely calming. But I was still upset and anxious.

He finally re-booted - and Word came back - and showed I'd only lost 10 minutes of writing...bascially the last page and a half. Which I could re-create.

As some of you know, I've also been toying with the idea of coming out with a cookbook based on the first 4 books of the series, now that all 4 will soon be in stores. Well today, after consulting with Teresa, the agent as well as the editors in London and New York we decided this might not be a good idea. Their reasoning was interesting...

-Cookbooks are a very competitve market
-to do it justice it would need loads of colour photos not just of the food described in the books, but of the 'three Pines' area - setting the atmosphere - and colour photos are expensive and could drive the price up to 50 dollars or more.

And the last point really cinched it for me. They explained that it was important this series not be mistaken for 'cozies'...and putting out a cookbook was a very 'cozy' thing to do.

I thought about that, and realized they were right. It wasn't, at this stage in the career development, worth the risk. The struggle with the series, especially in the UK, was to have people stop seeing them as comfortable, fluffy, village mysteries. there is an intentionally cozy element about them, of course, but with a philosophical, emotional, even spiritual underpinning that holds the series and characters together.

I'm happy that some people read it on just the 'cozy' level - but it gives me great pleasure when people read the books I actually wrote. And I suspect if you're reading this, then you know what I'm talking about.

So - while I think I see a higher-end more amazing cookbook than I was able to explain to the others, I do appreciate their point. And we can always do it later. The great thing is that these thoughtful women gave me their advice - but understood it's my creation, my career, my books. And they stood back and allowed me to make my own decision.

Was a time when I worked with bullies. never again. Honestly, there are lots of times I don't want to write, or get up in front of an audience or go into another roomful of strangers - when all I want to do is stay home with Michael and enjoy our lives together. Lots of things about this business I don't like or understand...But what I love so far outweighs them.

When that stops, I stop writing...or at least publishing. I think I'll always write about Gamache and Clara and Ruth and everyone in Three Pines, even if it's just for Michael and me.

Must go. emails to send and dinner to make. Be well. And for all of this days disappointments and stresses, it wasn't nearly as bad as some people's days.


Elizabeth said...

At least in these days of modern computers, you have some hope of saving and retrieving. Back in the dark ages of the early '80's, Bill almost lost his entire Ph.D. dissertation when he put the final draft in his briefcase and then left the briefcase accidentally on the roof of the car before driving off. Miraculously, he realized what had happened before he hit any major thoroughfares and his future was saved. Phew!

Lesa said...

Sounds like a day for computer problems. I took my husband's computer in, and it was not good news. The LCD is going, which means we might have six months to a year left. We're not ready to put the money into a new computer. But who can live without one now?

I'm so glad Michael was able to save your book. I'm waiting for that one!

And, I'm glad they said no cookbook right now. Your books aren't cozies, Louise, and they shouldn't be treated as such.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear elizabeth,

Just reading your story gave me goosebumps. Ugh. Can you imagine? so glad he stopped...just trying to imagine how he felt in those few moments when he realized what he'd done, before he knew it was safe.


Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Lesa,

So sorry to hear about the LCD! And I agree with you - can't get by without a computer, but they're not cheap! hope it hangs on.

And thank you for the cookbook and cozy feedback. I agree, and am so glad they thought of that.

dana s said...

Louise, I learned about you in a very nice article in the Charlotte, NC Observer. There was a great picture of you too! I went out and bought all your books and LOVED them! Then I signed up for the newsletter and read your blog every day. I wouldn't worry about Cozy, cozy is a good thing, we read about all the bad and crazy stuff every day in the paper or watch it on TV, well some do anyway. I am planning on coming to whatever you might have coming up in October in Montreal. This is knowing I haven't driven in snow in twenty years, do not own a winter coat, and hate to fly. Concerning the cookbook, one can never have enough, and I need another like I need two heads, but I would wait in line to purchase one, so when you are ready for it, we will be too. Looking forward to everything. dana s