The Best Laid Plans ~ An update to my mystery novel

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley

 ~ From “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns

Most of us know the line paraphrased as:

The best-laid plans of mice and men
Often go awry

Or simply: The best laid plans …

In layman’s terms, the meaning of the line is: No matter how carefully one plans, something may still go wrong, or the result may not be as expected.

If you consider I’m not a planner anyway, it is amazing how I accomplish much of anything, let alone write. In the writer’s world, I’m known as a “pantser.” I fly by the seat of my pants. I don’t plan my storyline—the ones who do are “plotters.” Some days, I envy them.

Up until now with writing flash fiction, short stories, and novellas, I’ve had the good fortune of not having to plan.

When I set out to write a novel in September 2012, a seed of an idea took root in my brain. It sprouted slowly, branched off in different directions until it began blossoming several months later. The story did not reveal itself to me in its entirety as did other stories I’d written, but for some ridiculous reason, I continued to think it might.

Given that, I committed myself to finish the novel by year-end 2013. I wrote a post in January called Scaling Back the Juggling Act to publicize it. I figured that if I wrote it down and announced my intentions, my deadline could no longer be a moving target. In other words, I had to follow through.

Fast forward eleven months …

People who know me well understand I’m private with my writing. I rarely disclose works in progress. I don’t lament when I’m struggling, nor do I announce any great revelations. Based on how I write, things can change, so there is no point giving away anything until the product is complete.

Why am I telling you this?

The main reason is that people have been asking me when my book is coming out.

And why shouldn’t they? I’m the one who said it would be ready by now.

Firstly, I’d like to say I am so honored and thrilled for the interest. The fact that my book will not be released this year obligates me to explain. Even though the deadline is self-imposed, I adhere to my own work ethics, and my word should mean something. I am disappointed in myself for not keeping it.

My inability to plan the release date is a big lesson for me. I set the fuzzy timeline but did not build in a buffer. Ultimately, I underestimated the steep learning curve of switching both genre and classification.

A few clues to my personality should have alerted me to the challenges.

  1. I am my own worst critic, and I’m anal—a deadly combination. I cannot release what I consider inferior writing just to meet a deadline.
  2. I’m fearful of my editor, Annetta Ribken, even though I absolutely adore her. That adoration compels me not to disappoint her. She knows I want to become a better writer, and that can only happen with hard truths, delivered in a way only she can.
  3. I edit and re-edit my work as I write. I know this is wrong on so many levels. For my next novel, I aim to write a crappy first draft and not worry about it. For this one, that ship has sailed.
  4. I’m not verbose in spoken or written conversation, and I’m no fan of wordiness. I’ve always admired authors who can write 100K and edit down to 80K. My style of writing is spare, so my difficulty has been to build up word count, not slash it.
  5. I love a challenge even though writing this book has frustrated me to tears. At times, I despaired as to whether I could sustain a novel.

As of now, the truth is: My book will not be coming out this year. It will come out in 2014.

I’d like to end with a quote that makes the hardships some of us go through seem rather trivial, but we can still take inspiration from it for whatever challenges us.

* * * *

It always seems impossible until it’s done.
~ Nelson Mandela

* * * *

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35 Comments

Filed under Important Announcements, Revelations & Humor

35 responses to “The Best Laid Plans ~ An update to my mystery novel

  1. Eden, things happen. Writing is not an exact science. I think you were very brave to switch genres like that. Some writers seem to “pull rabbits out of their hats” and some of us take the scenic route. It is all good. When your book is ready we will be buying and reading it. Cheers, Ardee-ann

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  2. eden, you’ll know when your book is ready, no one else :). I look forward to the day when your new book comes out, whichever day that may be. In the meantime, enjoy the festive season and everything that leads to it :)!

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  3. John Dolan

    Now, be honest, Ms Baylee, you’ve done this on purpose just to make us salivate a while longer. Ha. The best things in life are always worth waiting for. We’ll wait for you, don’t worry. Quality can’t be rushed, m’dear.

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  4. This delay only means it will be even greater. 🙂 xoxox

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  5. Best of luck in finishing, Eden!

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  6. With the schedule you’ve been keeping, and your preclivity toward a perfect story, I say “It will be ready when it’s ready.”

    And we’ll be glad of it.

    xoxo

    RB

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  7. Hey you. Breathe in. Breathe out.

    Sometimes you have to be in that space that’s yours and yours alone. It’s not easy to be there when so much is going on.

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  8. Every writer is their harshest critic, and combine it with an anal propensity and throw in a little KY jelly…whoops. Wait. Wrong conversation.

    Um. Every writer is their own harshest critic. And there’s a learning curve to writing that never ends. It’s both the joy and the frustration of writing. Especially when you step outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself. I have mad respect for you for doing both, Eden. I truly believe in both your talent and your drive. It will be ready when it’s ready, and I’m so looking forward to working with you on this. DON’T BE SCARED! I don’t bite anymore since the litigation (GAG ORDER IN PLACE, I CAN’T TALK ABOUT IT) and I’ll bring cookies 🙂

    Love you, lady ❤

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  9. Being yourself is the best plan of all. We’re all having up and down moments in life. We make choices that lead us to interesting, curious places. I’ll follow your writing anywhere . . . and you.

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  10. Enough already with the excuses! Get the mystery book written! 🙂 I put a smiley face there because I jest. You, of course, must be who you are and on your time-table…that’s the only way to be. Waiting will only make us salivate and enjoy the book more when it comes, as JD has said. ‘My girl’ can do no wrong! Luvya! xox

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  11. I’ve been putting off my current novel for four years, so you’re way ahead of my curve 😉 We’ll all be here when it’s ready, and I think we all trust you to wait for the right moment.

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  12. Don’t worry, just keep going. A complete novel is a complex work but I’m more than sure that are doing a fantastic and a little delay mean nothing, you are fantastic and even that many people are anxious to read it (including me) we all know that the final product is going to marvelous.

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  13. Thank you for revealing these truths, a few of which I am — and I’m many of us are — also guilty. These evident truths about yourself only underscore a simple fact, Eden: The book will definitely have been worth waiting for.

    Cheers and carry on 😉

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  14. It’s ready when it’s ready, Eden, and not before. I’d thought I’d have had mine released by now, but then life came in and threw me a sledgehammer.

    That quote from the great man is perfect.

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  15. These are fantastic lessons. Thank you. I especially admire your need to do it right rather than just get it done! Can’t wait to read it – it will be worth the wait!!!

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  16. I’ll be waiting, Eden. Because I knows it’s going to be great. I too write by the seat of my pants and it’s so wonderful when you write that way. It’s rather like reading a new book. I also know that sometimes there are a few blank spot. Often I have gone on to write the ending so I can fill in the middle. It works for me. Keep going and love your editor!

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  17. Pingback: Stranger at Sunset ~ My Mystery Novel releases 6.30.14 |

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