Squawk Radio

Friday, May 13, 2005


Okay, it’s really Christina on finishing a book, but sexual obsession is a waaayyyy better title and finishing a book does involve an obsession of sorts.

I just finished the third book in the Lost Princess series (working title Princess3 — catchy, huh?) Most books start with an exuberant burst of creativity. I always love my first three chapters because they’re so exciting. Hero and heroine meet and start their adventure. It’s wonderful! I’m amazed at my genius! Everyone’s going to want to read this book!

Then at fifty pages, I have an unfortunate realization. I need four hundred pages. My excellent math skills immediately inform me I have to write three hundred and fifty to go. I also realize there’s no way I can write so much. I’m a fraud, never mind the fact I’ve written twenty-eight books, I’ve never really done this before, and it’s impossible!

So I plod along alternating moments of brilliance with long passages of absolute drivel and before I know it, I’m at page three hundred. Okay, it’s not before I know it — it’s forever. But at around page three hundred, something happens. I get this rush. I can see the end and I work long hours. I wake up in the morning with passages of text in my head (they’re frequently out of order) and I write them before I get out of bed. I write all day and late at night. Eating becomes something that involves cereal, restaurants or take-out. My eyes look like two little computer screens, square and backlit. At the beginning of the book I aim for ten pages a day. At the end of the book I have been known to write as much as forty a day. It’s work. It’s madness. It’s obsession.

Of course while I write the end moves away from me.

This is a rule that always applies. The end is never at four hundred pages. I write on and on, waiting for the bad guys to bite the dust. For the family to reunite. And most important, for the glorious moment when the hero falls to his knees before the heroine and begs her pardon for being a jackass. Because my heroes are always jackasses and they always have to beg for the heroine’s love.

Ah, fiction.

Finally, finally, when my rear has conformed to the shape of my chair and my fingers are little nubs, I write it. THE END. Those are the most wonderful words in the English language and that includes “I love you” and “Here’s your royalty check.” I smile like I’ve got a hanger stuck in my mouth. I stumble to bed because I haven’t slept for so long — and stare at the ceiling because my brain won’t turn off. It is literally stuck in high gear for about forty-eight hours.

And then, of course, I take a week off.

Ahahahahaha! Sorry, for a moment I was delirious and thought I was living a writer’s fantasy life.

Actually, I’m so far behind on everything else — fan mail, real mail, sending out contest prizes, making decisions on the granite/door knobs/carpet for the house we’re building, petting the dogs, petting my husband, talking to my kids, cleaning the house — that I make a list, a horrible list of Things to Do, and start desperately trying to catch up. With Princess3 the aftermath includes having two books on the shelves — and I still have promo material to mail. CLOSE TO YOU has been out for six weeks, SOME ENCHANTED EVENING for two. It’s a little late to worry about reminding people to buy the books, but the envelopes are stamped so by God they’re going out!

So that’s it. The book is done. My life will slowly return to normal. I’ll start the synopsis for the next book Monday (although I guarantee my office still won’t be clean) and I’ll start the same cycle. And really, finishing a book is like experiencing the biggest orgasm ever and the pleasure lasts for days.

So you see, it is sexual obsession.

Please don’t tell my husband.
Christina Dodd, 1:56 AM