If you’ve ever cooked for a large group—say dinner for 125 people—you know that rather quickly food ceases to be food and becomes a combination of object and timed indoor event. By about the twentieth carrot I start wondering if it takes me fifty-eight seconds to peel one carrot, and I have to peel another twenty-five pounds of carrots, is dinner going to be ready by six o’clock?
The same thing happens at the end of writing a book. It happened to me last week. I was in the middle of about the gazillionth proofread and my whole world had narrowed into red lines and green lines, those helpful markers that Word uses to identify misspellings and grammar errors. Everything else — characters, plot, nice bits of dialog — had disappeared. I was in no shape to appreciate any of it.
Twelve pages without a correction. Fifteen. Oops, only three pages this time. Here’s a place where I can choose “Ignore all” for a name and get rid of eight red lines on the same page at once. Talk about power!
Somewhere in that mindless scroll, correct, scroll, correct, scroll, correct treadmill the thought sunk it that this was it. I was not only done with this book, but with the series. I’ve “known” that was coming for a long time, but this was the first time that I felt it. It was rather a strange feeling. Like the guy in the John Denver song, the characters have their bags packed and are ready to go. No amount of cajoling will get them to stay, and I wouldn’t even try to convince them to do that. They have a lot of living to get on with between 1975 and now.
The working title for this one is Loved Honor More, and it about — strangely enough — love, honor, and what happens when those two things collide. It’s gone winging its electronic way to the publisher, so keep your collective fingers and toes crossed that they want to buy it.
It’s been a great ride: five books in nine years. Maybe I’m getting the hang of this writing gig.
Another era ended on Sunday afternoon. Jack LaLanne, who was the first person to introduce me to the idea that exercise was good for me, died at the age of ninety-six. Rest in peace.
Life is an athletic event. You have to train for it.
~ Jack LaLanne, 1914 - 2011