Photo of Thomas Kies laptop word processor writing Chapter one of Whisper Room

Today I received the first half of my advance for WHISPER ROOM to be published in 2022.  My wife watched as I opened the envelope from my agent and she asked, “Do you think that pays for your time spent working on the manuscript?”

I could see the mischievous nature of the question in her eyes as she asked it.  After all, I spend the better part of a year producing a novel.

I smiled and replied, “If you use money as the only yardstick to measure by, then no.  There are other forms of compensation, you know.”

She does know that.  Like today, we’re moving our chamber of commerce office to another location.  The building owner completely renovated to our specifications.  Financially, she made us a deal we couldn’t pass up.  And it has a lovely koi pond, complete lily pads, frogs, and a family of turtles.

While we were discussing the move, the landlord took me aside and told me she was two chapters into my first book, RANDOM ROAD.  She said, “I love your lead character, Geneva Chase.  She’s such a hot mess.”

Bingo!  That’s what makes it worthwhile.

When I walk into a bookstore and see it on the shelf, or lately, in Barnes & Noble and see it on a table in the front of the store–my book parked right next to Stephen King’s latest. Yeah, baby!

Or when I see a favorable review online.  Or when I’m out and someone walks up to tell me how much they enjoy my books.  That’s how I measure success.

So, back to WHISPER ROOM.  This past Monday I sent the manuscript to my editor.  This is the scariest part of the process.  I’m freaking terrified that she’ll email me and say, “Nothing personal, but this is crap!”

Oh, let me digress for a moment.  The book’s title is out for testing.  I didn’t even know they did that.

I’m sorry, back to the WHISPER ROOM.  Waiting for my editor to pass judgment on the manuscript is pure torture.  So, rather than dwell on it, allow me to offer what some other authors have said about the editing process:

“Throw up into your typewriter every morning. Clean up every noon.” — Raymond Chandler.

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” — Saul Bellow.

“Read over your compositions and, when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.” — Samuel Johnson.

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” — Mark Twain.

“Mostly when I think of pacing, I go back to Elmore Leonard, who explained it so perfectly by saying he just left out the boring parts. This suggests cutting to speed the pace, and that’s what most of us end up having to do (kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings)…I got a scribbled comment that changed the way I rewrote my fiction once and forever. Jotted below the machine-generated signature of the editor was this mot: ‘Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.’ — Stephen King.

So, yes, I’ll be patient to see what my editor says, but I think I’ll deposit that advance when the bank opens tomorrow.

What Makes It Worthwhile
Tagged on: