To make matters even scarier, I was the first writer she called in for the one-on-one. She'd read my whole manuscript, not just the thirty or so pages she'd said she would. She was patient and generous in her critique. These were gifts I vastly under appreciated at the time. Instead, I had a bad case of pocket watch repair syndrome after I spoke with her. Pocket watch repair syndrome is when someone has taken apart your beloved piece of writing and you try to put it back together--except you have three or four pieces left over. And the damn thing doesn't run.
Silly, silly me.
She kept telling me that I was only writing down her negative comments. I told her that the stuff she praised didn't need work. (Silly me again.) She told me that only about 50 percent of anything you hear in any workshop is right, maybe not even that. That I managed to remember. She also told me that maybe I had written a young adult book for grownups. And that I could probably get it out there (as in published) if I wanted to work really, really hard. That I remembered, too. So I worked really, really hard. Fitted the missing pieces back in. Cut, added, made the bad guy much more evil (her idea--and she was super-correct in it). She was right about far more than 50 percent of the stuff she mentioned.
In case I haven't been emphatic enough on this before: Karen Joy Fowler is a terrific writer, and one heck of a good teacher.
Time Runs Away With Her is in print, getting read, and has its fans. Some grownups, some kids. It took maybe three or four massive rewrites, another good editor whom I hired, and finally some skilled line editing and additions for clarity suggested by the good folks at Evernight Teen.
I wrote the sequel in November. Remembering the "really, really hard" work part of it, I put that draft aside until after Christmas, and have spent the last six weeks revising and rewriting. Superstitious soul that I am, I gave the "finished" MS to the fella who was my first beta reader for Time Runs Away With Her. His eyes are on it now, which makes my fingers itch to start yet another round of revisions before he even gives it back to me. I am resisting that impulse. It'll be a better use of my own resources to wait, talk with him, and consider his comments. I don't have Hedgebrook this time. But my pal Tom reads EVERYTHING and is wicked smart and seldom wrong.
I guess I'm revisiting all the insecurity I had around writing Book One because I can't believe I've actually learned how to do this magical thing: tell a story for a whole book! Maybe that's a gift I need to sit with for a bit and absorb.
Let me tell you a bit about the new book--no spoilers, of course. It's darker, and there are some pretty scary scenes. There's actually one scene I absolutely couldn't watch if it were a film and not a book. Some 18th century time travel. There's a rock and roll radio station, and a really good hippie July 3rd party. Bean's friend Sam is a more prominent character (I love writing her). There are more Deerwood Academy scenes. Bean manages to get pissed off at Zak. There's a Saturday morning scene at the Sam Ash on 48th St. in Manhattan in July of 1970 that I'm really proud of. And a ton of music: The Jefferson Airplane, especially, but also Bean's main guitar inspirer, Paul Simon. And The Incredible String Band.
Not sure about title for this one yet. I've been calling it Bean 2 as I've been drafting, but the two names I'm thinking of are Out of Time and A Second Time.
So, yeah. Bean 2. It's a thing, now, whatever I decide to call it.
By the way--if you are reading this, and you've read Time Runs Away With Her, could you spare me a review? A zillion thanks! Here we go again!