Monday, 12 July 2010

3rd draft

sunny, beautiful day, temps 32

Hot but not humid. Really, a very beautiful summer day here in Montreal. Have finished the first day of the 3rd draft and am sitting on our balcony looking out over the private park at the back of our building. Very tranquil, except for the endless work being done on the building across from us. The poor people who live in that building!!

Didn't get so far on the third draft...only about ten pages....but while in New York I had a couple of ideas for this book, and especially the beginning - which I have now re-written three times. I've had to do that with a few books. The beginning of Still Life - the opening chapter I mean - didn't come to me until after about a year. And I remember taking a bound print out of THE BRUTAL TELLING with us to Cambridge, in the UK. We were there a couple of years ago, in Sept, for Michael's 50th reunion. I thought I had just the fine-tuning of THE BRUTAL TELLING to do, and so was looking forward to sitting in one of the famous walled gardens at his college, or by the banks of the Cam river, reading the manuscript for my latest book. One of those 'pinch me' moments.

Well, the 'pinch me' moment became a 'kick me' session.

I read the manuscript with growing horror - and nausea. I'm not kidding. When something's wrong in my life, and certainly in my work, it sits in my stomach.

I was so upset, and disconcerted. Here it was, September already. I thought I'd all but finished the book, and now I'm reading it, and hating it! So I sat down with a red pen and started crossing things out, and moving things, and re-working the opening...inded, reworked a lot of it. Just hoping to save it. Pull it from the fire.

Interestingly, when I'd finished I adored the was worth every moment of anxiety (i say that now that the book is out and is fine - at the time it was excruciating). Sometimes it seems the more I have to struggle, the better the book is. Means I really am writing close to the bone - and more and more in touch with the characters and the story I want to tell. So that if something is off I know about it, and can't let it go. The issue then becomes, how to fix it.

So today I worked on the beginning of this book, and I think I got it right...but that's the power of finishing a draft then waiting a week or me time to disconnect, and be able to come at it with fresh eyes. The eyes of the reader. And to know if the book is as good as it can be.

But it sure is a relief right now to say I'm pleased with where it's at.

Also wanted to tell you that the novella I wrote for literacy is now available for pre-order. Not actually sure when it'll be released, but you can go to and order it. It's called THE HANGMAN. Now, I do need to warn you that it's really just a quite long short story, and while it has Gamache, and is set in Three Pines, it is written at a grade 3 level, so the wording is perforce very simple. As is the story.

It's meant for emerging readers...but is certainly aimed at adults. So you might like it too. And the money goes to literacy organizations.

We're meeting Susan for breakfast tomorrow, then Michael has a dentist appointment and a meeting with our accountant and friend, Frank. Then we're off home.

It's a bit of a trade-off in sweltering weather. The Montreal apartment has airconditioning. But the country home has a pool.

Woe is me, who has to make such choices. Yes, I know, I don't get to complain. Well, just try to stop me!

Hope you're well - speak to you tomorrow!


Aimee said...

The date says September 14, 2010, Louise.

There's the direct link to its page on

Reen said...

Still getting over the rubber ducky post... but... Michael is a - a cantabri... - he went to the other place?

lil Gluckstern said...

Complain all you want, get's rid of the grungies, and then you can enjoy---and write

Cece said...

Whatever happened with the piano-playing-at-all-hours woman in your apartment house?

Reen said...

Maybe she found the rubber ducky.

Louise Penny Author said...

Ha, you people slay me...and perhaps the piano playing woman.

she's still audible, but fortunately she seems to be sticking to daytime tinkling.

Thanks for the link the The Hangman!