The closer I get to the end of Affairs, the more ways it finds to make me nervous. Today I am writing a scene that must be there for structural reasons–but it is turning out to have a surprising emotional charge, complete with elements I must keep under control lest I pull in thematic stuff that belongs in the next volume, because it is the first time Lesle and Deaclan have been alone in the same room since he pulled the rug out from beneath me *again*. I am once again walking the tightrope of being true to what these characters would really think, do, and say about everything that has happened of late–and controlling the flow of the novel.
This is complicated by the sheer mechanical issue of page count, which in turn is complicated by Mark.
Mark has been upper management for the vast majority of his career, which means he’s got finely-honed methodologies for attempting to control things beyond his power. Since he helped me arrive at appropriate pricing for Shorn in the UK and European markets, one of those things has been Affairs. Suddenly he’s gone from simply being proud of my artistic achievements to seeing the business side of it– and he asks me questions like “When will you be done?”
(That all depends how much help I get on my mundane tasks, doesn’t it?)
And “How long is it now?”
This is because he has learned to calculate the cost of producing a book. So rather than finally going to sleep last night, he’s doing page-count math in his head and telling me that if I go all the way up to the 240K-word-count limit Wynette assures me I must observe if I am to keep the book under $20 on the cover, I will never make any money on this.
Now, which of my two advisers has published books before? Sigh.
I am trying not to take this personally. I know this is just a sign that he’s fully on board and engaged in the emotional process with me, and it is simply a fact of his personality that things beyond his control make him crazy. But now, as I sit in the study writing this two-scenes-from-the-Act-3-break moment, I keep finding my eye on the little window in the menu bar that tells how many words I’ve used up, my attention distracted by the page count in this chapter.
Yeah, you’ve gotta have nerves of steel to be a writer-publisher.