Previously on 115journals.com, I wrote about dreaming the beginning of my soon-to-be-published novel, I Trust You to Kill Me, set in Colombia in 2120. I said that I dreamed the first chapter. Every night I went on dreaming about the place and the people I had imagined. I had cancelled my in cleaner because she was also working in the front lines in Canadian Tire. As I went about my house keeping, the next scene would write itself in my head and I would word process it in the afternoon.
I was so happy. I couldn’t visit anyone. I masked up and scuttled into the grocery store at 7 a.m, senior hours, but I was happy because my apartment thronged with the ever-growing number of characters in the book. They’d get into life-threatening predicaments and then figure their way out. They were contending with the end of the world, or, at least, the end of civilization.
I had given up listening to Canada’s Prime Minister, who had to do his updates on the steps of the house he was living in because he and his wife got Covid. I switched to the Cuomo brothers, Chris in his basement for the same reason and Andrew, somewhere in Albany, looking official, quoting Churchill, “If you’re going through hell, keep on going.” I had no idea these steady, supportive men were actually deeply flawed.
I had cajoled six people to be my beta readers and I shared how happy I was with the book. When it was finished and edited and edited, I had it copied. Each copy cost about $50 and Canada Post earned about half that getting it to far-flung destinations. I suppose monks copying it in calligraphy would have cost more.
Now I was free to start the second book in the series.
But. Hang on. Word came back that it was unreadable. People would add that, no doubt, I had a good book in my head, but I had left most of it out. My friends were at the breaking point. One read me the first 13 pages aloud. Each sentence provided me with half a page or a page of notes. The one writer in the group had put aside her own work to read it. She was the most distraught of all. She sent me a short response, but managed to lose her copious notes. Another one didn’t lose hers, but never intended me to see them.
The trouble was I lost the half the novel. It just vanished from my computer and neither Microsoft nor Apple nor the Geek Squad could find it. That led me to pick up the heavily annotated one from the annotater. Well, she was out, but the door was unlocked. It was mine after all.
Holy Crow! Those comments. They were things I used to think while marking grade nine short stories, but I could never, never give to tenderhearted students.
I sat down at my desk, which looked out high over the neighborhood, all the way to Lake Ontario. It was August. Okay, I said to myself, I get to do it all over again.
Pandemic psychosis manifests in a multitude of ways. For example, I was pretty sure there shouldn’t be a hard lump just there, but I would get to it later. And I did, several weeks later. Some surgeries go ahead even in the middle of pandemics.
When I glanced up from my computer, I was vaguely aware of the trees turning yellow and orange and the pile of pages growing taller, even taller than before.
It looked as if we could have a smallish Christmas where we actually ate with a few other people. I copied the pages myself this time. The writer gamely offered to read the new version, but I felt I had done her enough harm. The others, great readers and frank critics all got new copies, well, some of them did.
But my chief, reliable critic, received the new, longer, much longer, book and unceremoniously backed out. “But you promised!” Now I’m I actually felt a little down,
I was fooling around on Twitter one day and found a very old DM from a woman who offered to edit my book. It was 2 or 3 years old, but she was still at the job. I sent her a 10 page sample – chapter two – and she sent me back a very competent and encouraging response.
In January, I sent her the whole book. Here was a woman, who didn’t mind reading on line. She was busy though. Of course I got impatient, but her response when it came blew my mind.
Apparently, it was good.
Stay tuned for further adventures of I Trust You to Kill me, even the origin of that very old phrase from a Sufi Master.