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 aÂ 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.Â I’d been toiling away at the story for months, yet as my deadline approached, IÂ couldn’t see the end of the mission.Â Â My work week expanded to seven days a week, and into the evenings too.Â I hardly ever emerged from my house.Â 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.Â I got annoyed every time the phone rang, because it was yet another interruption.Â
Then my dad died, and suddenly the pressure intensified.Â Now there were other things to think about, travel plans to make, family issues to deal with.Â While the deadline just kept getting closer.
But throughÂ it all, I took myÂ inspiration from one mental image:Â exhausted little Frodo from LORD OF THE RINGS,Â using up his last ounce of strength to crawl up Mount Doom.Â Â I’d lie in bed, emotionally spent, and I’d visualize thatÂ impossible walk up the mountain.Â I’d visualize putting one tired foot in front of the other.Â I was Frodo.Â I just had to keep trudging.Â Through the disastrous first draft.Â Through a second draft that seemed to have a mountain range of plot problems.Â Since I was wearing my editorial hat by that stage, I was looking forÂ problems, and when you look for problems, that’s all you see.Â You don’t notice the good parts, because they don’t need any work.Â You just see the bad.
But somewhere during the third draft, something changed.Â I read it front to back, still looking for problems, but I began toÂ get this gut feeling that maybe I’d misjudged the book.Â Maybe it was good, after all.Â
Maybe it was even great.
On Monday, I finally hand the fourth draft to my husband Jacob.Â He takes it to our farm, where he can read the whole thing while alone and undisturbed.Â In the meantime, I putter around the house, feeling uneasy, but also a little euphoric.Â I think the book’s good.Â But what do I know?Â I’ve been living with this thing for too many months.Â I can’t tell anymore.
In the evening, I hear Jacob’s car drive in, and then he walks into the house.Â I’m upstairs in my office.Â Now, when Jacob doesn’tÂ much like a particular manuscript, I can tell.Â He’ll say,with a decidedly unenthusiastic voice:Â “Interesting story.”Â Â
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.Â Frodo gets to rest.