The Memory Project
Off the top of my head, natural (Johnny Ketchum)

Flying Too High With Some Guy in the Sky
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. . . is my idea of a pretty good way to finish a novel. In fact, I was so tickled to write the final chapter of NOVEL NO. 15 (title's not set in stone) that I took advantage of the Internet link and signed on, sending an e-mail to the SO and announcing my status on Facebook.

The result was a flurry of questions. When will it be published? (2010, but I'm not sure what month.) Is it a Tess or a stand-alone? (A stand-alone.) Will I tear up my latest "design"? (No, I'll probably create a new version.) How long did it take?

It has taken me about ten months to get to this point, and that includes a month I took off in April, when the combination of travel and sheer mental fatigue overwhelmed me. Typically, I finish a book between September 1 and October 1, and almost all of the editing -- my editor's notes, copy-editing, galleys -- is done by mid-December, which makes for a nice break. I start again on the first weekday after Jan. 1.

Last year, I turned in the galleys in person, on Jan. 5th, having started NOVEL NO. 15 the day before. And I was coming off a year in which I had written LIFE SENTENCES, THE GIRL IN THE GREEN RAINCOAT and SCRATCH A WOMAN. It finally caught up with me this spring and, for the first time in a decade-plus of writing, I asked for extra time. It was agreed that I could have until the first week of January to submit the book, so it's far from "finished." But the first half, which has already been revised multiple times, is in pretty good shape and the second half, while a raggedy mess, is structurally in order. Much work remains, but I prefer revision to creation. The disorderly, chaotic, disorganized Laura has been banished from the room and the cooler-headed inner editor, the darling killer, has taken her place, ready to get to work.

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