Frodo Delivers!

There’ve been times over the past few months when I’d awaken in a cold sweat, wondering if I’d ever finish writing THE BONE GARDEN. It became a recurring part of my sleep pattern, jolting awake in the early morning, feeling a stab of panic that I wouldn’t make my deadline, that the book was a mess, that I was about to be revealed as a talentless failure.  I’d been toiling away at the story for months, yet as my deadline approached, I couldn’t see the end of the mission.  My work week expanded to seven days a week, and into the evenings too. I hardly ever emerged from my house.  I went for months without a haircut, and was reduced to desperately hacking away at my bangs one day, over the bathroom sink, just so I could see.  I got annoyed every time the phone rang, because it was yet another interruption. 

Then my dad died, and suddenly the pressure intensified.  Now there were other things to think about, travel plans to make, family issues to deal with.  While the deadline just kept getting closer.

But through it all, I took my inspiration from one mental image: exhausted little Frodo from LORD OF THE RINGS, using up his last ounce of strength to crawl up Mount Doom.  I’d lie in bed, emotionally spent, and I’d visualize that impossible walk up the mountain.  I’d visualize putting one tired foot in front of the other.  I was Frodo.  I just had to keep trudging.  Through the disastrous first draft.  Through a second draft that seemed to have a mountain range of plot problems.  Since I was wearing my editorial hat by that stage, I was looking for problems, and when you look for problems, that’s all you see. You don’t notice the good parts, because they don’t need any work.  You just see the bad.

But somewhere during the third draft, something changed.  I read it front to back, still looking for problems, but I began to get this gut feeling that maybe I’d misjudged the book.  Maybe it was good, after all. 

Maybe it was even great.

On Monday, I finally hand the fourth draft to my husband Jacob.  He takes it to our farm, where he can read the whole thing while alone and undisturbed.  In the meantime, I putter around the house, feeling uneasy, but also a little euphoric.  I think the book’s good.  But what do I know?  I’ve been living with this thing for too many months.  I can’t tell anymore.

In the evening, I hear Jacob’s car drive in, and then he walks into the house.  I’m upstairs in my office.  Now, when Jacob doesn’t much like a particular manuscript, I can tell.  He’ll say,with a decidedly unenthusiastic voice: “Interesting story.”  

But this time he stands at the bottom of the stairs and shouts up his verdict, the highest praise he can give a book:

“This one has got to be made into a movie!”

This morning, I sent off the manuscript to my editor and agent.

Ring successfully delivered.  Frodo gets to rest.

19 replies
  1. Kyle K.
    Kyle K. says:

    Hey, congrats! I know it’s hard with the weight around your neck and Gollum on your back, but that last leg is always the best, isn’t it? That moment when you just KNOW…

    I’m glad you were able to beat the mountain!

  2. MattScudder
    MattScudder says:

    Hmm. I was Googling for some Lord of the Rings fan fiction, and I ended up here. Just kiddin’.

    Great job. Now go get a spa treatment or something. You deserve it!

  3. l.c.mccabe
    l.c.mccabe says:

    It sounds like you can leave for Turkey with the weight of the world off your shoulders.

    Congratulations on your accomplishment and have a wonderful time on your trip!


  4. margaret
    margaret says:

    As if it could be anything but well-written and entertaining!

    So happy you made your deadline, with time to spare for packing.

    Bon voyage!

  5. struggler
    struggler says:

    Just hope that, in your confusion and weariness, you didn’t accidentally give Jacob a well-known book by JRR Tolkein and told him it was your manuscript….

    By the way, doesn’t time fly. Seems just a few weeks ago that The Mephisto Club was released, and here we are again. It’s That Time Of Year. Enjoy it. You deserve it.

  6. NewMexicanAnn
    NewMexicanAnn says:

    Awesome, Tess! There is one problem now, though. I can’t wait to read it!!!!!!!! 🙂

    P.S. When I think of “Frodo”, I think of a little cairn terrier that a friend of mine named him when she got him. I call him “the elephant” because he loves to eat a few peanuts before bed.

  7. Norris Marshall
    Norris Marshall says:

    Congratulations Tess! I think any of your books would make fine movies; this next one even more so. (I may even have a suggesting for the lead male role).

  8. Jude Hardin
    Jude Hardin says:

    Congrats, Tess!

    Tequila…spa treatment…

    It’s all good. But don’t forget to give your hubby a little extra attention now, too. 😉

  9. joe bernstein
    joe bernstein says:

    whew-now that’s done and you can relax on your trip-i guess this blog entry means that an alternative career in hairdressing is a non-starter :)-seriously,have a great time and try all the unusual foods you can find and tell us about them-but don’t drink too much arrak or you’ll have a hangover til your book is published

  10. Tatiana
    Tatiana says:

    Congratulations! I gladly wait for your books because they are so well done, and I was so glad to find your books after I’d given up on Robin Cook and Michael Crichton.

    Have a great trip! I went to Turkey as I child but all I remember is my dad negotiating with a merchant who wanted to buy the little blond girl. He was up to several rugs and some livestock when my mom came back and stomped off with me in tow, leaving my dad to shrug nonchalantly to the merchant: “Eh, women! What can you do?”

  11. Amy MacKinnon
    Amy MacKinnon says:

    You sure do know how to create anticipation. 2008 will be a great year for books: Alice Sebold’s Almost Moon and now The Bone Garden. I simply can’t wait. Congratulations, Tess. While you may have had your doubts, your readers never did.

  12. 5harmaine
    5harmaine says:

    (JD Rhoades, that was hilarious. I wholeheartedly agree. [= )

    Tess, that’s fantastic!! Now that the pressure of the manuscript has diminshed, I hope you bask in it at least a little.

    I wish you lots of positive, fulfilled thoughts in the near future.

  13. Barbie Roberts
    Barbie Roberts says:

    2008 for The Bone Garden? I thought you were releasing in September; hope that hasn’t changed. I’m thrilled you’ve finished and are pleased with your work. I don’t know what Jacob’s responses have been to your other books, but I’ve loved them all so I’m really eager to get my hands on this new one. Have a great vacation–may you come back rested, refreshed, and with lots of stories to tell.

  14. drosdelnoch
    drosdelnoch says:

    Hey Barbie,
    Yep Tess is releasing in September for the US, the UK however is 14th January. Hopefully Tess will be on tour again. Oh and Tess perhaps print out some of the silly things that your fans say, it may give you a chuckle and help release the stress. In honour of the title of this thread :
    The Samwise Gamgee Prayer :
    For what Frodo’s Ring is about to receive, may the dark lord make him truly thankful.

    Oh and one for a thread or two further back in regard to throttling certain people :
    Blogs dont kill people, Writers do.

    Anyway have a good time and remember to regale us with tales about Turkey. Oh and Istanbull was Constantinople (carry on with They Might be Giants song.) LOL

  15. maatlockk
    maatlockk says:

    oh, Tess~! 🙂 good to know that it’s going to be a good book. i can’t WAIT! -i will most probaly need to be restrained when i enter a bookstore during the time of your book release…now that my sister (best friend) is no onger here in NZ, that would now be my boyfriend’s job.

    all your books have been a good read, and i’m sure the next one will be just as great – who knows, it may even be better! i love reading your books!

    lotsa love and all the best!

  16. Vanessa F
    Vanessa F says:

    “Just hope that, in your confusion and weariness, you didn’t accidentally give Jacob a well-known book by JRR Tolkein and told him it was your manuscript….”

    *Falls over laughing* That made my day 🙂

    I can’t wait for the new book!!!

  17. Cade13
    Cade13 says:

    Congrats Tess,

    I can imagine your stress, I’ve always wanted to write a novel, but every time I even consider it, the amount of plot twists and development it would require to make the characters as well as the research involved always kind of overwhelmed me and it never happened, maybe someday I’ll get the balls to actually try! Looks like I’m gonna have to take a break from my current Dean Koontz reading spree in September to check out “The Bone Garden”, I’ve already read all your other thrillers so it will be nice to have a new one 😉

    Fellow Mainer/Fan,

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