First Pass Pages
It kind of seems appropriate to start at the end though I didn't do it that way to be clever. I did it that way because, until the book was done, there was no time to blog. It's also funny how the very last step is called first pass pages, but so it is. I asked my editor this week if I could see second pass pages, and she said, "Nobody sees second pass. I think we let Bill Clinton see it, but that's it." So unless I become president, which seems on the whole unlikely (especially between now and August), first pass is last pass.
First pass is all about commitment. They send you typeset pages, the actual pages from the actual book, and it's your very, very, very last opportunity to catch any typos or make any changes to the text before it goes to print, so whatever you decide, you're stuck with it forever. Writing a book is a long process which takes a long time during the whole of which I am always putting things down and thinking, "I'll fix it later. I'll fix it later." First pass pages is the end of later.
Here was first pass, round one:
Each of those flags is something to go back and reread, rewrite, consider, adjust. These aren't big things -- big things got addressed in copyedits, edits, revisions, drafting. These are: do I want "said Sam" or "Sam said" and do I mean, "Hi, honey" or "Hi honey" and "started" or "begun." So, maddening. Here's round two...some progress, but not a lot. There were four rounds total before I dispensed with all the post-its.
These decisions seem nitpicky, and they are nitpicky, but first pass is really the first moment available to consider that level of minutia. I'll write more about the other steps of the process in future posts, but for the moment, I'll say this about first pass: it's the only time you can consider whether you want "said Sam" or "Sam said." And while it's not a devastating decision certainly, it does matter, at least a little bit. Eventually, every single last flag got considered, addressed, handled:
And then there was celebrating with the three-year-old set (sparkling apple juice in champagne glasses, straws optional) which was actually less a celebration and more of a ceremony, a blessing before sending the thing on its way in the world, before letting it rest for the evening and then putting it in the mail in the morning.
Book-writing is a long journey that ends not with a bang but with a huge pile of (pretty) post-it notes.
Meantime, welcome to the blog. Thanks for being here. Comments welcome -- here, Facebook, Twitter, email...whatever you prefer.
About The Author
Laurie Frankel writes novels (reads novels, teaches other people to write novels, raises a small person who reads and would like someday to write novels) in Seattle, Washington where she lives on a nearly vertical hill from which she can watch three different bridges while she's staring out her windows between words. She's originally from Maryland and makes good soup.