I haven't posted much here lately because I've been slogging away, trying to finish my current work-in-progress. There comes a point in every book, I think, where you can't really stop. You have to keep writing to get to the end because it is now in sight. So here I've been, in air-conditioning, thank goodness, pounding the keys, and enjoying a perfectly legitimate excuse for not going out into the WTF heat.
My only breaks have been to wage another battle with a great big green worm who is determined to eat the last vestiges of my only tomato plant, just as it was showing signs of recovery and survival. I keep reminding myself that he's going to spin himself into a large cocoon one of these days and then emerge as a beautiful creature to brighten my world. Sometimes, though, the temptation to smash him into green slime is almost overwhelming.
To compensate, I've been trying to come up with an apt simile--the caterpillar and the book draft that is done--but by no means done. Both have had a tendency to consume enormous amounts. The caterpillar eats its weight in leaves and the book demands never-ending research from the leaves of several books. I've had to stop writing to go in search of all sorts of odd facts--the symptoms of diphtheria, consumption, and pandemic influenza; the inner workings of torpedos and model-T Fords; the nature of trench warfare; the exact terms of Prohibition; the causes of runs on banks, the nature of earthquakes. You name it; and I'll have looked it up somewhere.
Soon the caterpillar is going to spin his strange-looking gray shell and hang himself from a stick. The book is settling into a period of enforced inactivity. It demands that I compile all of its 46 individual files into one unified manuscript. Then I will need to put it aside and step away, letting the story settle into itself before I start the long editing process. Does the worm/book analogy hold? Well, at this stage, the book looks to me like a giant hair ball on a stick--all sorts of threads that I'm not sure are wrapped up correctly. So may they rest for a while--the cocoon and the literary hairball--and leave me free to live my life again.
But of course, the real mystery will be what emerges from that cocoon and that hairball. I know little or nothing about caterpillars, and perhaps even less about the nature of books. Will the result be the beautiful stained-glass monarch butterfly and a story that will immediately draw attention to itself? Will the caterpillar turn into the hugely elegant pale green luna moth and the book into an esoteric book that many praise and few actually read. Or will we end up with one of those dusty brown months destined to beat itself to death against a light bulb and a book that disappears into the vast underbelly of Amazon algorithms, never to be heard from again?