Molly Campbell: Birthing a book

Inside Look Comments (1)


I wrote a novel. Titled Keep the Ends Loose, it was released on Tuesday, February 24. Dry facts. Hardly interesting. But I am going to let you in on the backstory:

Sit down at computer. Come up with a few characters. Write about them. No. This is awful. Wait a few weeks.

Sit down again. Come up with some other characters. One is a fifteen-year-old girl. She starts talking about her family. Hey, this sounds promising! Type about two thousand words. Wow. Stuck. All books need plots, right? Wait a few weeks.

Think about Mandy Heath, this fifteen-year-old narrator, all the time: while you are at the grocery store, and as you fill your prescriptions at the drugstore. WAIT—her dad should be a pharmacist! Yes! And her mother should be kind of a busybody! YES! Rush home and write a few thousand more words. Whoops. Stuck. Go back. This kid needs an annoying brother and some kind of problem to solve. Erase two thousand words. Write a hundred. Wait a week.

As you are in spinning class, it hits you: Mandy Heath’s family needs to almost fall apart. You think about soap operas and melodramas. Sex. Violence. Chaos. Well, maybe not the violence. You take a shower, go home, and type in another few thousand words.

This thing is taking shape! It should be a breeze to finish! Yup. Wait—show don’t tell. Damn. Erase a few thousand words. Wait another few weeks.

Cogitate, cogitate. In the middle of the night, Mandy wakes you up. Of course! You go downstairs, and Mandy dictates another few thousand words. Yawning, you go back to bed at four a.m. Wait another week or so.

The plot is falling into place. You realize that there are probably some gaping holes in this thing. So you hire an editor and send her the manuscript. Wait about two months for her to go through it with a fine-toothed comb.

Good God. The editor sends back five pages of queries. You erase, cut and paste, rethink, and even poor Mandy is getting confused. Sleepless nights. You are obsessed. This damn thing will never be finished!

Cut to a year and a half later. The book is done. The loose ends get tied up. But should they have? WAIT. This is the title: Keep the Ends Loose! So you submit it. Wait weeks, maybe months. Get nervous. Then despair.

But the day arrives. The Story Plant will publish your book! Hooray!!! Wait. Editorial queries. Copyeditor. Proofreader. More rewrites. Cuts. Additions. Gosh. This isn’t like falling off a log AT ALL.

It seemed like just a minute ago, you got the idea for this book. But you check your calendar. That was two years ago. Good grief. But the dream came true. You are a novelist.

So you start another one. This should be a breeze—you know how to do this now. Sit down. Type a few hundred words. Wait. Erase. Sigh…

Molly Campbell

Molly Campbell is the author of Keep the Ends Loose. Visit her website to stay up-to-date on her blog posts.

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On February 27, 2015
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One Response to Molly Campbell: Birthing a book

  1. Amy says:

    Piece of cake. Great book.

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