(NOTE: I will be updating the progress on Death is Sleeping with My Wife, the 4th Joe Davis book, as I race against time to complete it by the summer. Here’s an update on where I’m at.)
BACKGROUND: I actually began working on Death is Sleeping with My Wife in 2014. At the time, I was fruitlessly shopping around Death is a Clingy Ex and thought I might have more success if I just started all over again with a new book. I got about 200 pages into this new book when I realized I was being silly. Clingy Ex was a perfectly good little book and if the powers-that-be couldn’t see that, a new story was going to change their minds. The benefit to (temporarily) abandoning this project was that I had 200 pages of a new book sitting in my back pocket whenever I needed it. When I founded Ghost Light Press and got the Joe Davis series rolling, I put Death is Sleeping with My Wife fourth in the queue.
I had hoped to get rolling on the fourth book in January, 2017. However, delays with the 3rd book, Death Wears A Big Hat, caused me to push the starting date back to the summer. The plan at that point was to have a completed draft by the end of the summer, work on it through the fall and have it more or less ready to go by the beginning of 2018, save for some proofreading and late tweaking. That would free me up to get going on the fifth Joe Davis book at the beginning of 2018.
Yeah, it was a nice plan.
I DID succeed in getting a draft done by the end of the summer, so that felt good. The fact that it was garbage, though, took the edge off the sense of accomplishment. (Then again, I’ve hated every first draft of every book I’ve ever written, so this was less a disaster than simply a part of the process as I’ve come to know it.) I started working on the second draft in the fall, but found myself constantly stopped by the tangles in the plot. It was a little like making a bed and trying to straighten the wrinkles, only to find more wrinkles popping up. I then got busy with my day job, then busy with the holidays, then busy with a show and then busy looking for a new job. Any plans to have the book largely finished by the dawn of 2018 quickly dissolved. They were replaced by a creeping fear that I would not get the book done in time to have it out by the summer.
Right now, I have most of the second draft completed. The thing it lacks is a climax. I have a rough idea how that’s going to work, but feel I need straighten out the events that lead up to it before I can write it. One element that’s missing for me is a feel for the entire book. It’s fragmented in my mind. I can think of individual scenes and storylines, but I don’t feel like I have my arms around the story as a whole.
A thing I should mention: every year, my cover artist goes on vacation for the better part of July. This means I have to get her a page count by no later than mid-June in order to have any chance of getting the book out during the summer. Meaning I need to have a nearly-completed draft by that point in order to give her an accurate count. So summer doesn’t seem like it’s THAT far off when you start putting deadlines like that in place.
As a result, April feels like a make-or-break month for the book. Either I have it completed, with just some proofreading and tweaking needed, by the end of this month or I’m in big trouble. Toward that end, I’ve decided to bring everyone along for the ride as I try to get this book finished. I’ll update this space frequently, letting you know where I’m at. I’ll also throw in some clips from the book, images of my work space (probably not the most riveting sight, but still…), thoughts, feelings and events during the process and entries from the Spotify playlist I’ve put together to inspire my writing.
WHERE I’M AT: Beginning April 1, I started going through the largely-completed current draft, writing quick notes on what each chapter and scene contained. I’ve been using the margins in my notebook to add little thoughts on things to put in the next draft. It’s like reverse-engineering an outline. It’s at least had the effect of making me feel closer to the story. I’m finally able to see it as a whole. With the reverse-engineered outline completed, I started going through each storyline (main stories and subplots) to see how they can be worked out. That untangling has begun.
When I’m working on a rough draft for a book, I usually set a daily workload of five pages. It’s a do-able goal and gives me a sense of forward momentum. Right now, I’m not at a point where I can set any kind of daily work goal. The only one I have is: get as much done as time, effort and waking hours will allow. And never be satisfied with the day’s progress. Be satisfied when the book is out.
Okay, that’s where I’m at for now. I’ll keep you in the loop as I go. Meantime, here’s something from the Death is Sleeping with My Wife playlist.