A Little R & R

by Rob Gregory Browne

You’ll have to forgive me for failing to show up at my appointed time last week.  Thank you to Dusty for so graciously stepping in to cover for me.  That’s one of the many great things about Murderati.  You know you can count on your fellow bloggers to cover your ass.

Right now I’m lying in a little bedroom in Aina Haina, a suburb of Honolulu.  We just arrived today and I’ve eaten an amazing sushi meal and I’m feeling a little zoned out, partly from the food, partly from the time change (it’s much later for me than the clock says) and partly because I’m coming down from one of the most intense experiences I’ve ever had as a writer.

They always say that your second published book is the hardest book to write.  The reason, of course, is that when you writing your second book, life has suddenly changed for you and you have this little thing called a deadline to deal with.  That puts a whole new twist on the situation.  You’re no longer an apiring writer (although I’m not sure I like that term.  If you’re writing regularly, you’re a writer, published or not), they’ve just paid you a hunk of money and it’s time to get professional.  Meaning, get the book in on time.

Well, I’m here to tell you that your second book is nothing.  It’s your seventh book that nearly kills you. 

(No, those of you keeping track haven’t miscounted.  I also write under a top secret pen name.)

After writing a draft of this current book very quickly, I was not satisfied with it.  I turned it in, got some much needed guidance from my editor, and just spent the last several months restructuring the book and adding some 30,000 words.  What I turned in on Monday is what I think is a much, much better book.  Hopefully my editor will agree.

I have to tell you that the task of fixing this book is probably the hardest I’ve ever worked.  I not only restructured, but the underlying mystery was changed, an entire subplot was scrapped and replaced with a new one, a new character added and a character who made a cameo in the original is now a major force in the story.

In other words, a LOT was done.  Not only were those 30,000 words added, but probably 50,000 were completely revamped on top of that.  In fact, there wasn’t a scene in the book that wasn’t changed.

Who ever said writing was easy?

So, now, here I sit, kicking back and taking it easy–or at least trying to.  Despite taking off to Hawaii for some much needed R & R, I’m having a little trouble winding down.  Although I have a feeling by tomorrow I’ll be doing just fine….

Anyway, no, not a lot to talk about — I’m all “talked” out right now.  But I am interested to know:

1.  What do you do to wind down after an intense period of work?

2.  Where is your favorite place to go to get away?

Until next time….


17 thoughts on “A Little R & R

  1. PK the Bookeemonster

    Not surprisingly, to wind down, I read. Or read about reading in genre mags. Heck, I even find it relaxing to read through my little black book where I keep track of what I’ve read over the years. My favorite place is to read in bed. There is that "ahhh" feeling when your body first stretches out, hits the bed and lets go of the tensions after a rough day that just feels so good to me.
    Have a most excellent time in Hawaii. What a perfect retreat/reward. Not even a hint of whom your alter ego is? I’m going to say it’s romance or young adult. 🙂

  2. JD Rhoades

    Thank you to Dusty for so graciously stepping in to cover for me.That’s one of the many great things about Murderati. You know you can count on your fellow bloggers to cover your ass.

    Not a problem. You’ve done the same for me. But let’s leave your ass out of it, okay?

    Enjoy your vacation!

  3. Alafair Burke

    I take lazy, bad-for-your-brain vacations or even staycations after a big blitz of work like that. Congratulations!

  4. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Rob

    I sympathise, because I hate doing major rewriting work. I know the general thinking is, ‘you can fix a page, but you can’t fix a blank page’ but to be honest, I’d rather make slower progress and not have to rip the whole thing apart and rebuild it afterwards. Just my preference.

    As for the ‘what do I do to wind down after an intense period of work?’ I don’t know – jump into the next intense period of work, I guess ;-] Haven’t had a vacation that didn’t contain some work element for 11 years.

  5. Cornelia Read

    Aina Haina–I envy you!

    If you’re looking for something to fill the creative well in the evenings, go check out the Honolulu Movie Museum in Kaimuki. It’s run by my college pal Dwight Damon. 19-seat theater (every seat an awesomely comfortable recliner), and they show excellent oddball films.

    Here’s more info: http://www.kaimukihawaii.com/businesses/current/956.html

    And have some crack seed and manapua for me, dude. You’re on your own with the dried squid crap, though.

  6. toni mcgee causey

    Carl and I go visit our son and daughter-in-law in Vail or I chill out and binge on movies and books and, best of all, catch up on local friends who are used to me disappearing for blocks of time. Anything to loosen up, breathe, laugh.

  7. Rob Gregory Browne

    Hey, Cornelia, manapua is definitely on the list. Although we haven’t been able to find a decent place to get some since Kwon On in Kaimuki went out of business. Will be sure to check out your friend’s movie museum, if I ever get out of bed.

  8. J.E. Taylor

    Rob –
    I have a tough time winding down but this vacation I’ve promised the family that I’d keep my time behind the laptop at a minimum. Today it’s yukky out, so I’m playing catch up. We’re in NH on Lake Winnipasaukee – our folks rented the place for the week as a 50th anniversary gift to themselves and invited us to hang with them. I love the lakes region and I also have our summer getaway in York Maine. Just being on the water is relaxing. Like so many others, reading is a de-stresser for me.
    Hope you enjoy your vacation!

  9. Allison Brennan

    Oh, Rob, I so understand. I turned in my last book without an ending because I knew there was a fundamental flaw in the story and I couldn’t see it. My editor did. I didn’t have to cut as much, but I rewrote a LOT. The book was 80,000 words in rough draft (again, remember, no ending!) I turned in a 118K final draft, with an ending that surprised me. I hope that because I was surprised, my readers will be surprised. It was all there in the rough draft, just hidden. Good editors find the gold, show it to you, and then you excavate it, polish it, and make it shine.

    For R&R? Hmm, I don’t like a lot of downtime because it takes me longer to get back up to my daily page goals. But usually I do something fun with the kids for the weekend, catch up on everything I neglected while in my writing zone, and start the next book within 3 days.

  10. KDJames / BCB

    "What do you do to wind down after an intense period of work?"

    There’s an after? You making that up, aren’t you. Sadistic bastard.

    I don’t need to get away. My life is full of sunshine and rainbows. And bunny rabbits.

  11. Sue London

    Hi Rob! That does sound very intense. Looking forward to seeing how it turned out. Just recently decided to go a whole new direction with something I had about halfway done so have a feeling for the complete rewrite/restructure thing. But I’m not under a deadline yet (still aspiring) so can only imagine how much more intense that would be.

    1. What do you do to wind down after an intense period of work?
    Hug the dogs and snuggle with the cats. Animals are very soothing.

    2. Where is your favorite place to go to get away?
    Disney World! Or a cabin on the river in West Virginia.


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