Personal Note: My husband’s pretty freakin’ awesome. Just sayin’. Also, I finally got around to organizing all my playlists by the character(s) each song applies to. I had all my very favorites kind of grouped together for a little while, and now they’re in different lists. I told N. it was like sending off my babies to different foster homes. He laughed at me and called me weird. Because he knows he’s cute enough to get away with it.
I’ve decided my writing style is a lot like my hair; there’s a lot of it, but it’s very long and thin, and it takes many, many steps to get it anywhere near manageable. Now, with my hair, this means anywhere from two to four hours (are we coloring it, because if we are . . . well, you know). With a book, my experience is that it takes closer to two years. I’m not sure this will always be the case; I dealt with quite a learning curve for the first one. The point is:
Step One: Grow it. Either several inches or several thousand words, this part takes a large chunk of your time. For some people it’s not the step with the longest span, but it can be. I can’t get my hair to grow quickly to save my life, but I can pound out 135K words in two and a half months.
Step Two: Wash it. Get all the yuck out of it. Scrub it for hairspray, over-used phrases, conditioner build-up, adverbs, oils, and typos.
Step Three: Rinse and repeat. Once, for you Michael Kelso fans.
Step Four: if you’re not coloring, Condition. Put a good timed repair creme on there and wait. Put your manuscript in a safe, child-proof, moisture-proof, plagiarism-proof drawer and wait. You’ll gain softness. You’ll gain subtlety.
Step Four B. If you are coloring (*ahem* picture books), do that first, and then move on to Step Four.
Step Five: Cut. Everyone needs at least a little trim to kill split ends, or perhaps split infinitives. Besides, whatever you had before Step Four, probably a good quarter (inch?) of it looks ripe for the shearing. Be bold. You could find just the right look, the right book, for you under there somewhere.
Step Six: Apply heat. Curling iron, flattening wand, crimper, or just a blow-out, you still need to go back and smooth out all those rough edges. Also, this is your chance to really make your style, the verve that’s uniquely you, shine through. Take it to the max!
Step Seven: The Consult. Call up your most honest, most loyal friend (critique group), and have them come over and check out the results. They will tell you if you have lost your ever-loving mind. Listen to them; they love you, and want what’s best for you(r book), just like you do.
Step Eight*: Assuming you’ve gotten the thumbs-up from your pals, add in whatever styling products you need to keep that hot mess in its hot messiness. You want to SAVE, SAVE, SAVE the end result. Sometimes this takes more than one gel, spray, mouse, act of nuclear illegality. For me, it takes a minimum of four (2 Hard drives, one flash drive, and an email record—Or mousse, spray, prayer, and a local de-humidifier).
And that’s why writing a book is like messing with my hair.
*Step Eight should actually be broken up into many fragments over the course of the entire proposition. As in, EVERY FIVE SECONDS.