Kevin J. Anderson has more than 140 published books, 56 of which have been national or international bestsellers. He has written numerous novels in the Star Wars, X-Files, and Dune universes, as well as steampunk fantasy novels Clockwork Angels and Clockwork Lives, written with legendary rock drummer Neil Peart, based on the concept album by the band Rush. His original works include the Saga of Seven Suns series, the Terra Incognita fantasy trilogy, the Saga of Shadows trilogy, and his humorous horror series featuring Dan Shamble, Zombie PI. He has edited numerous anthologies, written comics and games, and penned the lyrics to two rock CDs. Anderson and his wife Rebecca Moesta are the publishers of WordFire Press.
i write. i make up stuff. i adventure hard, so you don’t have to.
It’s the last draft, my final read-through and edit of ETERNITY’S MIND, the 700-page manuscript I’ve been working on all year. The grand finale of the Saga of Shadows trilogy, tenth novel overall in my Saga of Seven Suns universe. And it’s complicated, 34 different point-of-view characters and storylines.
I needed a place to concentrate so I could fit the whole story in my head, with minimal interruptions.
It was time to head off to Estes Park, Colorado, again, one of my favorite writing retreats, with a cabin on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, kitchenette, refrigerator, bed, fireplace, bathtub. Add my iPod and my laptop, and it was the perfect environment. The weather was supposed to be bad, but that was good—I was just going to stay inside anyway.
Four days and nights to get as much of the manuscript edited as possible. This would be my seventh time reading the book.
I left a chunk of the manuscript at home, so Rebecca could start her detailed line and copy-edit, and I promised to send her 100-page sections as I finished them.
I arrived on Thursday afternoon, unpacked, set up shop. I got groceries, bought a rotisserie chicken and a bag of salad so I wouldn’t have to cook dinner, and got to work. I finished about 50 pages before I called it a night at 1 AM and went to bed, but I was just getting warmed up.
Next morning it was gray, cold, snowy…perfect editing weather. I wouldn’t be the least bit interested in going out for a hike. I sat on the futon with my lap desk, then I moved to the table where I could use the bluetooth keyboard, then back to the futon for another chapter or two, then in the afternoon I took a break and went to sit in Starbucks for an hour or two to edit in a different environment, then back to the cabin to keep going.
If I focus, I can edit about ten pages an hour. After making myself breakfast and getting to the second cup of coffee, I started at 9 AM, then tried to get ten pages done by 10 AM. If I made it, I could treat myself with a break to look at Facebook or check email; if I didn’t make it, I had to plow through and hope to make up for time and have twenty pages done by 11 AM. Then thirty pages done by noon.
I heated up a can of soup and had some leftover salad, then got back to work, hoping to catch up with the ten pages an hour. Naturally, the inevitable “emergency” phone call or two or crisis email derailed the schedule. I made some Italian sausages in marinara sauce in the crockpot, so it would be ready whenever I needed to break for dinner. Sure, it would have been nice to go out to a restaurant to dinner, but that would have taken too much time and disrupted the routine.
I did manage to reach my goal of 100 pages edited, by about 10 PM, and called to check in with Rebecca. After which, I “treated” myself by spending an hour and a half answering business emails, keeping up with social media, and posting a blog. I ran a bath, but my brain and eyeballs were just too wrung out to relax by reading, so I put in headphones and listened to an audiobook, then got to bed by 1 AM.
Up the next morning by 7:30 AM, clouds and snow again—editing weather—shower, breakfast, coffee, then back to the editing by 9, ten pages an hour, canned soup for lunch and leftover chicken for dinner, and again finished my goal of 100 pages by 10 PM, more email, another bath and audiobook, to bed by 1 AM.
For four days in a row. Today it was beautifully, cruelly sunny, but I stayed inside and edited anyway. It’s still a pretty cool office.
Tomorrow I will leave to head home, and the novel *should* be finished and delivered by the end of the week. As of right now, I have done up to page 410 (out of 734), and I hope to get another 50 finished before I check out at noon. An exhausting but satisfying retreat.
And the last time I did this, when I got home a neighbor commented, “I hope you had a really nice vacation.”
ETERNITY’S MIND will be out next September from Tor Books. You can preorder your copy now.
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