Or, We’re Going to Need a Bigger Binder
by Morgan Matson
Deep into revisions for The Unexpected Everything, a Twitter conversation (*cough procrastination cough*) gives me an idea for a new book.
I discuss the idea with my editor, Justin—a book that takes place over Thanksgiving weekend, with family coming together and estranged members returning. In the midst of this, our protagonist, Charlie, is trying to make decisions about college, her future, and her longtime crush. He tells me he likes it—except for the Thanksgiving part. We change it to a wedding and I go off to write my first draft. I aim to get him a draft by March 2016.
We seem to be 200 pages in and not much is . . . happening? I’m sure it’s fine.
We are now 300 pages in. We’re still on the first day of a four-day weekend. I begin to get a little worried.
Deadline has come and gone. We’ve moved on to day two! And page 450. Somehow, I’ve added a subplot about a historic movie theater that’s in danger of being torn down. It seems like a great idea for a book centered around a wedding and a family.
I turn in the first draft! It is 675 pages long and four months late. My editor says, “No more movie theater.” Also, “Why are these people constantly going on bagel runs?” I have no answers.
Late July 2016:
I commence the second draft, complete with editorial letter and a clearer idea of everything that went wrong. THIS draft I’ll figure it all out. The movie theater is gone! Fewer bagel runs! And the action will take place over three days, not four. Surely this will fix everything. I promise to get the second draft in by October 2016.
I’m basically rewriting the book from scratch. I’ve made it to the end of day two! Unfortunately, I’ve also made it to page 500. Ruh-roh.
I turn in draft two. There’s no more movie theater, but the book, at 700 pages, is somehow LONGER. How?!
I turn in draft three! I’m feeling better about how things are going—we’re down to 500 pages! It also occurs to me that I’ve now been working on this book for two years. I cry briefly and then get back to work.
I finish the fourth draft—and the book is now coming in around the 400-page mark, which feels magical. But I’m loving the characters, and Charlie’s arc is getting clearer and clearer, and I’m feeling like this book might be . . . working??
The fifth draft is in! I’m beyond happy with how it turned out. I have a cover I love and I’m so excited for people to read it. It might be my favorite book yet. I’m so proud of it.
While procrastinating on Twitter, I come up with an idea for a new book. . . .