I feel this moment deserves a blog post.
I finished writing Into the Flames!
Now, I know it’s not done. It still has a lot of feedback from beta readers and editors to be processed. Sean has already told me of some problem areas that need my attention. But still, I finished it! This is the first time I’ve had all the components together in one place. I’ve written every scene at least once, but never on the same “draft.” Each scene has never been in sync with one hundred percent of the other ones. Either a character has been missing or I’ve repeated information or the wrong person was attributed to saying something he couldn’t possibly have said. But now, all that has been corrected. Everything is together and complete. If you read it from beginning to end, it would all make sense.
And now, a word of thanks.
I would like to thank my sister for being the best task master on the planet. Every author should have someone like her. Really. Not only does Mara tell me I can’t watch my mindless sitcoms until I’ve pounded out two thousand words (or whatever goal I need to reach), she is always my go-to for hashing out character and plot problems.
Mara told me the other day about the first time she remembers filling this role for me. I don’t know how old we were, I think it’s safe to guess around ten, and we were in bed at our grandfather’s house. Given the uncomfortable nature of the matress and our general dislike of sleeping in strange places and with each other (Mara flailed a lot back then), neither of us were asleep. Apparently I was acting rather huffy and Mara asked me what was wrong. I said, “I’m trying to figure out something about this story and I don’t know what to do.” I went on to explain my dilemma, and Mara, it would seem, gave me valuable input that was sufficient enough to provide a good night’s sleep. I have no memory of this encounter but I don’t doubt its reality.
It is very important as an author to have somebody who will just listen to you. To listen to you complain about your characters misbehaving. A person who will listen as you complain about the lack of plot or as you try to describe what you’re seeing in your mind but can’t put down on paper. And then, sometimes, to give you feedback. And who isn’t afraid to tell you when something you want to write is compeltely and utterly retarded.
I think that this person is a lot like Stephen King’s Ideal Reader. Maybe this person is King’s Ideal Reader. Either way, this person is Mara, and without her, Into the Flames would not be finished today. Er, yesterday.