Clawback is in the Can

Clawback, the Ali Reynolds book for March, is complete.  Finished.  Done.  I can’t tell you how happy I am about that.

I don’t know if any of you remember that old Helen Reddy song:  “Hasn’t it been a long hard climb, with everything taking its own sweet time.”

That’s what writing Clawback was like. It really did take its own sweet time, and I’ve battled with this book like no other.

The next line of the song goes:  “Hasn’t in been a long lonely night, when it didn’t seem that anything would turn out right.”

That, too.  I lay awake night after night with this book, wrestling with the devil, as I like to say, and trying to see my way through to the end of the story.  Was Dan Frazier a good guy or a bad guy?  What was on that stolen memory drive?

Over the weekend the end of the story finally came together, piece by piece and thread by thread.  Here are a few things about writing novels:  There aren’t any easy ways to get to that end point.  It takes time and patience.  It takes not giving up.  It takes keeping on plugging.  It takes staying on task.

In order to finish the book, I put myself into a self-imposed mani-pedi time-out.  The last mani occurred just before I left town on the national part of the Dance of the Bones tour which has been over for some time now.  This morning, with the manuscript for Clawback finally on my editor’s desk in New York, I was cleared to go to Andy’s Nails here in Bellevue.  By then I had chipped shellac polish remaining on only three fingers … well two fingers and a thumb.  Now as I type this, all ten of them are glowingly Candy Apple red.

A few of the comments from last week’s blog made me realize that my banana peel reference was evidently opaque to many of my readers.  Here’s the deal.  In writing a book, I find that the first twenty percent is usually the most difficult because it entails getting the story started, introducing old characters and new characters.  In this book—the exception not the rule—the first twenty percent went just fine.  From twenty-percent to sixty percent—the middle of the book—is generally a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other slog.  From sixty on, however, what I call the banana peel, it’s usually easy—a short downhill slide, as it were.  In this regard, too, Clawback was an exception.  It kept stalling out right around the 62% mark.

So lets talk about banana peels in general and why I use that term.

When I was involved in the insurance business, sales campaigns always ended with some kind of celebratory banquet.  When I started writing, I felt that hitting the end of a book was an accomplishment worthy of celebrating.  As a consequence, when I did so, the kids and I would go out to dinner.  They were still in grade school back then, but they soon learned that when I told them I was “on the banana peel,” that meant I was nearing the end the book and our going out to dinner couldn’t be far behind.

Years passed.  My daughter was a senior at Newport High School when one day a food fight started out in the cafeteria and eventually spilled over into the halls.  My daughter was there when one of the food fight kids stepped on a loose banana peel.  His feet went straight out from under him, and down he went.  The light came on in my daughter’s head.  Suddenly she knew why I’d been talking about banana peels for all those years.

06And now you do, too.