Friday, August 6, 2010

Two Books Down, One to Go

The first book in my Mason Dixon series, Mason Dixon: Pet Disasters, which I delivered to my editor the end of May and revised in June, is now in copyediting. The second book, Mason Dixon: Fourth Grade Disasters, I finished this past Tuesday - the first full draft, which is now in the hands of my writing group, awaiting their critique to be presented to me at our retreat later this month. I began the third book, Mason Dixon: Basketball Disasters, this morning, writing madly and merrily to complete chapter one. I did start thinking about it yesterday, Thursday, which means that I basically had one day off between books.

This is one day more than Anthony Trollope would have taken. In his autobiography, one of the books I read over and over again, he writes:

"While I was in Egypt [on business for the British post office, where he was employed as a full-time, high-ranking civil servant], I finished Doctor Thorne, and on the following day began The Bertrams. I was moved now by a determination to excel, if not in quality, at any rate in quantity. An ignoble ambition for an author, my readers will no doubt say. But not, I think, altogether ignoble, if an author can bring himself to look at his work as does any other workman. This had become my task, this was the furrow in which my plough was set, this was the thing the doing of which had fallen into my hands, and I was minded to work at it with a will. It is not on my conscience that I have ever scamped my work. My novels, whether good or bad, have been as good as I could make them. Had I taken three months of idleness between each they would have been no better."

I'm hoping this is true for me, as well, that one day of idleness between books is plenty. Actually, because these books are all part of a series, I think it helps to leap directly from one to the next, with the voices of the characters still ringing in my ears. I won't have time to forget about them. More important, I won't have time to let that other terrible voice of self-doubt start to whisper, "But are your books any good? Are they any good at ALL?" No time for that, no time, no time!

Which is, I think, a very good thing.

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