Sunday, 12 December 2010


lashing rain, freezing rain, snow, high winds....oh my. temps plus 3

What a roller coaster. Here's a photo out of the solarium just now. It's quite pretty actually. Like living inside a crystal or an igloo.

Still, it looks as though we'll lose most of our snow. A shame - but it sure is great to be at home, safe and warm. Awful day to be on a highway.

Sending the edit off to London and New York tomorrow morning, before Pina's exercise class. That'll feel wonderful. Had an interesting question on Facebook about the edit. Whether this is really the last edit, or another in the process. And the answer is yes, it's one in a process. But a big one. Getting the editor's notes and thoughts is huge. They could reject the book, or decide it needs major re-writing. Or none at all. Thankfully, most of the edits have so far been fairly small, but no less significant. It's such an interesting process - writing a book. It's both so individual and such a collaboration. Solo, yet also a team.

Part of the challenge is knowing which of the editor's notes to use and which ones not to. The vast majority I use - because I know Hope and Dan know and understand the books - and what I'm trying to do. And they trust where I'm going. And just want to help me get there, with the story lines but mostly the characters. Most of their notes have to do with clarifying something.

The trick is to do it with a light and gentle touch. Subtly, but not so subtle as to be completely obtuse.

the other thing I was reminded of when editing is the importance of space and time. Whenever I was unsure about a section, how to solve the issue, my instinct was to just plug away. But I've done this often enough to know that for me the best thing to do was the opposite. I needed to push the laptop away and go for a walk. Or have a bath. Or just relax and clear my mind. And an answer really does present itself. Sometimes it takes a day or so.


As important as focus and quietude to a writer. Any answer I might have forced would have worked - but never as well as one that comes with time, and inspiration. And opening my mind. And heart. And just let it be.

This can be terrifying. I'm always convinced that while it worked in the past, it won't work now. Like that great scene from Little Big Man - where Chief Dan George knows he's dying and asked Dustin Hoffman to build a funeral bed and lay him there so he can die in peace. Next morning Dustin returns to see Chief Dan George lying there, at peace. Then the chief opens his eyes and gets up, shaking his head and says, 'Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn't.'

that's how it feels when I'm editing. Wondering if the magic will work. It's a funny mix, this writing, of hard work and inspiration. Of discipline, experience, and something beyond our control.

And then just hoping for the best.

So glad I finished now! Yesterday I was saying to Michael that Christmas is only three weeks away. After saying that a few times he turned to me and gently said, 'Actually, it's two weeks away.'

Oh oh.

So have spent the past day madly writing cards, wrapping gifts, putting together boxes to be mailed. Sometimes we feel we start running first thing in the morning - and need to, just to keep a step ahead of the flood. Bet you know the feeling.

Now I just have to write synopsis of all my books for my foreign editors, a chapter for a Now Write book on writing crime novels, and a quote on Agatha Christie and Miss Marple for a re-issue of the Marple books.

And feed Trudy.

Still, I have to say, I can't think of a better way to spend a stormy day!


Larry Marshall said...

Gosh, what a tease, Louise.

"...a chapter for a Now Write book on writing crime novels."

Say what? There's going to be a Now Write book specific for crime novel writing? Do you know when it will be released, who else is writing for it, etc.? Inquiring minds, even the simple ones like mine, wanna know.

Cheers --- Larry "aka Jodie's dad"

Ilonka said...

Ditto (what Larry said). This enquiring mind would also like to know!

Sally said...

Saw you in the Globe & Mail in your "reading position" - good picture, and it looked so cozy on what is a chilly weekend in so many places.

VTSlajer said...

Hi Louise, always something new and interesting on your blog. Today, I learned a little bit about what happens to the manuscript before it gets published. Thanks for sharing.

riverview said...

Watched Santana tv documentary.
Talking about his relationship with his producer Clive Davis he said,"You have to know when to defer, when to get out of your own way." You seem to describe similar moment.

Diane said...

Hi Louise: Thanks to your last month's newsletter, my Gamache mugs arrived today - beautiful and exciting. Not as exciting as seeing your book on the shelves in the best sellers section at our grocery stores, book stores, and drug stores!! Finally!! I had to order in from Chapters before and then wait, wait, wait. As a fellow Canadian, may I say how proud I am of you and your well deserved success.

lil Gluckstern said...

What a fascinating process writing is. Practical and mystical (in a good way) at the same time. I also like the idea of solo and with others, enjoy this busy time.

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi all - thank you for these comments - such a variety too. Love it! It is, as you say Lil, a mystical process...and as you quote, 'riverview' - a process of trying to figure out when to go with your own thoughts and when to accept the others are right. Happily it really does become more instinctual as the years and books go by. Perhaps it's more a matter of the ego diminishing and the instincts uncluttered again. It is clearer what the right path is.

Fascinating journey into self discovery, really.

And in terms of our 'igloo' I wish I could have captured the sight and sounds of it all sliding off. Quite a crash. Scared Trudy half to death. (Scared me too the first time - but now I know what it is...a creaking and groaning for about 10 seconds and then a roar and it slides of and hits the ground.) And then, voila - there's the world again.