We’re wading through cover art right now. My original idea was to have a grey/black/white bathroom wall with 867-5309/Jenny on it in red, like graffiti, with smaller graffiti around it, quotes, people in the book, song titles, and the like. There would also be a photo of yours truly engaged in rockstardom of some kind.
We seem to be edging closer and closer to this again after trying a few other concepts. How the book looks is very important. I want of course to have the right cover, since I am going to out selling it to all of you and I want you all to marvel at just how awesomely cool it is, but I am much more concerned about the contents of the book.
My editor Karen is slicing and dicing up my carefully crafted prose right now. I have read that editors hate to have pesky, neurotic writers bothering them (what? me neurotic? Let me tell you about it, doctor), so I have largely refrained from emailing her. She should be done within a week or so. Then the serious haggling will begin. I am trying to be flexible. I can even touch my knees.
I have found that no matter how much I pour over a piece of writing, and I do rewrite constantly, there come points in the process at which I can no longer the forest for the trees. Last year I wrote an epic quasi-historical novel about the man who built Stonehenge. This book is called Merlin the Archer and has quite a bit of real history and actual people in it as well as suspiciously creative stretches I have made to include characters that belong to mythology. The story takes place in the early Bronze Age, around 2,200 B.C.E. I did a lot of research to add to my existing knowledge of this era. I have always been a rabid student of history and the Bronze Age is my favorite era. The book is fairly long and consists of five ‘books’ within the framework of the story. I’ll talk more about the actual story another time soon and maybe post a little of it.
But my point here is that after taking nine months to write the book, I had to step back and just let it rest for few months without looking at it at all, so that when I did it would be more as reader and not quite so much as a writer. This is an essential process for me; it’s played a big role in the writing of 867-5309/Jenny: the song that saved me.
I originally wrote 867-5309 in the present tense: “I am walking down Haight Street with Mitch Howie…” I liked the story told this way, but others thought it was a bit cumbersome. I let the manuscript sit in my computer for a couple of years while I wrote a bunch of fiction and went back in with a fresh perspective and rewrote it top to bottom. After that hiatus I could readily see how awkward the present tense was. I added quite a bit to it as well, as many of my friends who had read it reminded me of other stories I need to include. I like the resulting story a lot more than the first draft.
Now Karen is putting my work to the knife. My only goal is have the best book I can have. I await her surgery with bait on my breath. Is that the right phrase? Something like that.