I am a very methodical writer in the sense that it's my job and I keep at it. I like tying the book strings together to create a final package. I can handle glitches because I (usually) allow enough time for a project.
Not with Gilded Path to Nowhere, the fourth book in the Family History Mystery Series. With just a couple months before final publication, a few vertebrae in my cervical spine decided to sit on top of one another. With six weeks to go, I did a compression fracture of a thoracic vertebra -- the 12th, if you're keeping score. How? I sneezed.
To top it off, Blue Cross had a watering contest with one of the major clinics in Springfield, IL, and I couldn't go to my regular back doctor! My always helpful primary care doctor found another clinic, and when I realized how bad the cervical problem was, I found another specialist in St. Louis. It's only 100 miles away.
I finally ended up in the ER for the compression fracture, but I did get some nice drugs. Do you know how hard it is to concentrate when taking opioids? Or muscle relaxers? But this was not a "tough it out" situation.
It also was not a "delay the book" situation, since I had a few hundred preorders. But I could barely sit in a chair for three weeks and could do little writing or polishing.
This is when you know who your best friends are.
My husband is a trooper, my neighbors and Maryland family were very supportive. But my sister, critique group, and a few other writing friends made time for chapter reviews and more on short notice, with quick turnarounds. I'll never be able to repay them. The book will publish on time on July 29th.
I have learned something important. I always have a better-than-general idea where a book is going, especially in terms of character growth. But because decades of crafting nonfiction made me an efficient writer, I don't do a full outline.
I work from notes and do brief chapter summaries as I go. From now on, I'm going to write the ending after I finish the first twenty percent of the book. Because you can't think straight when your brain is mush, and who knows when it will turn to mush again?
The other option would be not to announce a publication date until the book is finished. However, I set it almost 90 days in advance when the book was more than half done. I use deadlines to ensure I do three books a year. Otherwise, it's easy to sit around and read books.
So, that's my Summer of Frustration story. It will be more fun to describe when it's in the rearview mirror.
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