To the Finish Line!

That’s Frank’s rat rod in the picture above. Of course he doesn’t actually race it, but it’s as close as I could get to a racing image without indulging in copyright infringement. I photographed Frank’s car myself, in South Pasadena.

The first draft of my next (and still untitled) book stands a smidgen north of 95,000 words right now, and I anticipate coming to the end this week.

Of course, that ‘s really just the beginning of the end. My practice is to let the finished first draft sit for a month, so that when I dig in for the first revision, I am reading it somewhat as an outsider. My hypothesis is that this makes it more likely that I will catch those embarrassing instances when my head silently filled in the gaps in what I was writing because i knew what was going to happen anyway, resulting in a senseless sentence, and now and then a surrealistic paragraph. The reader, of course, has no such telepathic privilege and will simply lapse into consternation. To prevent that is the important thing, though naturally I want to eliminate repetitions, typos, and continuity errors as well. Writing a series of related novels means that I am also constantly checking the earlier stories to makes sure there’s a reasonable consistency to my little fictional Los Angeles and its denizens.

(Note to the possibly intimidated reader: the books are all standalones, though there are little references back and forth; you need not read them in order, nor need you read them all to enjoy just one or two. Though naturally I recommend that you do read them all! But I would, wouldn’t I?)

After the first revision, I send the manuscript to my editors. No point in burdening them with easy catches I can make on my own. I’ll also impose myself on a first reader or two. When their judgments return, I will evaluate them and begin the second revision, then give the book a week of rest before the third revision. How far beyond that I take it depends on how comfortable I feel with the story as a story. I think I read through Family Ties nine times before I sent it to a professional copy editor for final proofing. (And even so, two typos remain!)

Then, since I am still more or less committed to the “independent publishing” process as it exists today, I kick it out into the void, that dark and sunless space where novels that bear no blazing flame of publicity orbit unseen through the eons….

What happens next is up to you. Don’t screw it up!

Rick Risemberg