Practice Makes Perfect

This morning I am 16,000 words to the good in writing (or as some people might say, “churning out”) my 16th Joanna Brady book.  Did I happen to mention that remarks about my “really churning them out” is on a par with being told I’m “prolific” in terms of being terminally annoying?  When people say that, are they thinking of me hunched over a chair with a butter churn between my knees or do they see me like a shark, speeding through the water after some poor hapless prey?  Either way, the word churn just doesn’t work for me.  If you meet me in person, please don’t say this!!  It’ll be better for both of us.

For all you readers who are completely besotted with Joanna, here’s some helpful information.  The book does not have a title although it does have a dedication.  It’s due out sometime in the late summer of 2014.  That’s all I know so far except for the fact that the person who is dead is someone you all know.  Enough said about that.

This morning I opened my e-mail to find any number of folks asking to be added to my newsletter list.  It’s really a new book notification list.  I am always happy to add names, but if you want to be added, please include both your first and last name as well as your city and state.  If you are a member of LinkedIn and want me to join as well, it isn’t going to happen.  Once someone signs up, they send notices to everybody in that person’s list, and I do NOT want that to happen to my list.  The names on that list are my fans’ names, and they are not to be shared with ANYONE!!!

In addition to the requests for the newsletter there were several e-mails from a woman who just discovered a cache of early Beaumonts that she had never read before.  She wrote to ask me several questions about Beaumont # 8, Minor in Possession which, it happens, was written 40!!!! books before the one I’m currently working on.  As a result, I had no idea how to answer some of her questions.  The details of MIP are lost in the fog of my over-used little gray cells.  In some instances she was making comments about usage–the erroneous use of dissected when I should have used bisected–or simply grammar–a place where I used the pronoun “them” when I should have used “us.”

Here’s a little known fact about the first nine Beaumonts, the first Brady, and the first Ali Reynolds.  They were original paperbacks or, as one snooty editor from New York told me once, “Original paperbacks are where anyone who wants to get published can get published.”  She’s probably saying the same thing now about people who are “self published.”  Luckily for all of us, the late and much-lamented Vince Flynn failed to get THAT message!!  But if you find errors in those early books, trust me, they’re mine.  I made them and no one caught them or corrected them.

The thing to remember about original paperbacks, and the reason they were looked down on so, was that they received only the barest bones of editing.  There wasn’t nearly the same level of scrutiny on those early books as on the later ones–books that were first published in hardback and then, a year or so later, in paper.

At the end of our exchanges of e-mail this morning, the reader said something to the effect that my books now are a lot smoother and sophisticated.  That’s what sent me down the trail of thinking about the forty books between Minor in Possession and Joanna Brady # 16.  Each book takes at least 100,000 words to write.  More if you consider how many words get thrown away in the process.  Yesterday I tossed 1,000 that simply didn’t measure up into my MacBook Air’s handy-dandy trash bin.

One hundred thousand times forty equals four million, give or take, written by me personally since Beaumont #8.  That total doesn’t take into consideration the words written while answering e-mail and writing blog posts or Christmas card letters.  I’m sure the total word count from my very own fingers is well over five million.  (I could probably get away with being a criminal, because I’m pretty sure my fingerprints got worn away to nothing years ago.)

Growing up in Bisbee, my first piano teacher was Mrs. Clark.  If I had practiced four million notes between the time I did my first C-scale on the piano in her living room and now, I would probably be a pretty capable piano player.  (I am not.)

But I have practiced writing.  For years and years.  For decades.  Forty-eight books’ worth.  Forty-nine counting After the Fire.  So I guess it’s understandable that I might be getting better.

After all, isn’t that what our teachers told us back then?  Practice makes perfect!