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Boxing the Octopus: all content copyright 2008 Colleen Thompson and Joni Rodgers all rights reserved.
Grinch alert! I'm working, for the fourth day running, on about four hours or so of restless, broken sleep. Why? Because this darn book won't let me.
I often have this problem near the book's end, when I'm mentally struggling to solve the 8,213 inconsistencies, blunders, and question marks of the story. And to do it while bearing down on a tough deadline. And, oh, yes, to write a book that at least measures up to the last, if not (I pray) exceeding it. I also want to finish early enough to get critique partner (Bless you, Saints Bobbi & Joni) feedback and edit before sending the book to my editor. (I'd like to keep up the illusion that I'm as brilliant as the two of them make me look.) I usually ask a "cold reader" (known here at St. Jo Anne), who knows knowing of the story, read it through after these edits as well, to make sure the mystery element holds, since it's hard to do that for anyone who's read the synopsis. (Though I'll say now: nanny-nanny boo, boo! I changed the villain!)
Aside from that, during the last stretch, I put off everyday things. Such as cleaning my dust-clotted house, paying bills, riding herd on my teenager's tendency to procrastinate, and - oh, yes, there's the dreaded "C-word." You may know it as Christmas around your house. But then, you might have a tree up, tasteful decorations, and a fleet of wrapped gives already to go on the big day.
It would be uncharitable, as well as a hallmark of sleep deprivation rather than my basic, usually-laid-back (I hear you laughing! And it's not nice) personality, to say that if this is true, I hate you for it.
The best thing about deadline stress-induced insomnia is that my mind really does work through the problems in some amazing ways, probably because I'm #$!* hallucinating by now from the lack of decent rest. I wrote a spooky scene yesterday that scared the heck out of me, and as for the climatic scenes, I came up with something pretty darned diabolical. The saints (and of course, my editor) will let me know if it all works or if it just comes out looking liking an acid-flashback to an old Adam-West Batman episode. (Click the link for a fun blast from the past!)
Meanwhile, thank goodness for caffeine, critique partners, and an understanding bed-partner (or two - and yes, I'm referring to the dog!)