Things are getting quite exciting in Simonville. I received the ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) for Accidents Waiting To Happen last week and the preproduction galleys a couple of months ago. The book will be on bookshelves in six weeks.
So, am I satisfied with the end product? No, not really.
The problem is every time I read the book, I want to tinker, and boy have I done some tinkering. Just to explain, Accidents was first published in 2002 by a small press. When I submitted the manuscript, I considered it to be the final draft. When the rights returned back to me in 2005, I decided I wanted to get the book republished. It didn’t get a fair crack in the marketplace and I wanted to see if I could resell it. It would have been easy to shove the thing in the mail without looking at it, but I thought I should give the book the once over before sending it. I rewrote the book. If you compare 2002 version with the 2007 version, the first sentence isn’t even the same. This wasn’t some manic aberration; I saw how I could do things better. I’d changed as a writer. Accidents was the first major thing I started writing back in ’98. During the re-read, I saw things that I didn’t see back then. Better things. Sharper things. The book didn’t need a polish. It needed stripping back to the bare wood, a coat of fresh stain applied then some lacquer. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with the original, but I saw a different way of telling the same story. I think the revised and updated version is a reflection of me as a more grown up writer (please take the grownup part with a pinch of salt. On second thought make that a fist of salt).
So, am I satisfied with the new and improved end product? No, not really.
The problem is when I received the galleys a little while ago, I saw there was room for tweaks. A little touch here. A little touch there. A cute new angle on a couple of the scenes. Maybe my bad guy should drive one of those Pontiac Solstices? I like those. He’d look mega bad in one of those bad boys. I had to stop myself at that point. I wasn’t making changes for changes sake, but each day I saw a different point of view on the story. I’m always going to see spots where I could change a word, detail or even a scene.
A common question I get asked is how many drafts I go through before the book is ready. The last draft is when I’m sick of looking at the damn thing. There’s a point when I’ve put everything into the story that I can possibly put into it. This point usually comes after spending two hours debating with the cats on whether a character should tie his necktie in a Windsor or half-Windsor knot. Unfortunately, put a few months distance between the manuscript and me and my brain has had time to come up with new ideas on the same subject. I shouldn’t be allowed to think. This is why I haven’t read the ARCs for Accidents and I don’t plan on doing so. Enough is enough. The book is finished. It’s as good as it’s going to be. The real answer to how many drafts I need to write before the book is ready is there is no final draft. I can always make improvements. As I improve as a writer, I get more critical of my work. I can always do better.
So am I satisfied with the final end product? Yes, I am. I think Accidents is a good book and I hope everyone else will too…