SUCH A HOT MESS AND I DON’T MEAN ME

CAT NAP

I have 5 more pages to edit of this hot mess of a current manuscript. I’m embarrassed to admit I started writing it a year ago, which may not sound like a long time for a novel, but in the world of romance, I should have written 3 novels in that time. A Harlequin author on Facebook posted, “I have to write a book in 5 ½ weeks!” and I was like, Huh? I can’t even formulate an outline for a book in 5 ½ weeks much less write the damn thing.

This is the third novel I have written. One would think writing gets easier over time. It doesn’t. My first book was a young adult novel written in 2000, back when YA was actually written for teens, rather than adults. I wrote it longhand while sitting on the most uncomfortable metal chair you can imagine in the middle of an outdoor mall in San Diego. I worked full-time at a kiosk selling spiritual items, books, and $3000 Thangka paintings that the owner had brought back from Nepal.

I had nothing to do for 8 straight hours but write. The kid in the kiosk next to me selling cell phone covers (which were a novelty back then) was waaaay busier. Needless to say, my boss closed up shop 5 months later, but I had an almost-completed novel and was pretty damn proud of myself. I polished it up and started subbing it, 9-11 happened, all things publishing halted, so I ended up shelving it. By the time I dusted it off again Twilight had been written, and since my YA had no vampires in it, it died a slow death.

My second book, The Accidental Cougar, which was published last November, was written under similar circumstances as the first. I was an office manager, alone all day, working for a company that was trying to sell a $30,000 piece of exercise equipment in a failing economy. It was very slow and I was so bored. I mean, there’s only so much porn one can watch on the office computer. I started writing, and the words flowed so effortlessly that I completed a first draft in 4 months. Because let’s face it, even when I didn’t feel like writing, when faced with another 8 straight hours of sitting on my ass, what are the choices? Porn, dusting (again), or writing. I chose writing.

I have come to the sad conclusion that in order for me to be able to complete a novel in a reasonable amount of time, I need to be working alone at a mind-numbing job for a company that will soon be going out of business. As it stands now, I work from home, where there are so many distractions it makes my head spin. Never before have I wanted to scrub a toilet more as when I have told myself I must sit down to write.

Manuscript #3 was excruciating to complete. It was like trying to give birth to a breech baby, or worse, being forced to watch a Keanu Reeves movie. Nothing flowed, and every day I questioned my ability to form simple sentences. The entire writing process from start to finish felt like Dana Carvey’s “Choppin’ Broccoli” skit, where he’s making fun of rock stars who write songs with insipid lyrics. If you’ve never seen this, you must. Right this second. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVGi7h2NTOg And while you’re watching it, think of me, sitting at my dining room table for a whole year, attempting to put together a story by pulling characters and motivations and words from my ass.

I think I’m going to print out all 286 pages of this hot mess, arrange it into a nice, neat pile and then stomp up and down on it like they do in the cartoons. Once I’m done stomping, off it will go to an editor. I can’t wait to be rid of it. I envision the euphoria will feel akin to how one would feel the day their freeloading, 36-year-old son finally gets a job and leaves the nest, or even better, the glee I would feel upon learning that Kim Kardashian has gone far, far away and will never be heard from again.

Have you ever despised a piece of writing or art, or any creative endeavor so much you wish you could have a funeral service for it and lay it to rest?

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