Amid this week’s tumultuous current events, I’ve been working through the galleys of The Women of the Copper Country, which will be published on August 6th this year.

Galley proofs are the preliminary versions of publications meant for review by authors, printed up with extra-wide margins so we can pencil in changes and clarifications.

Most of the changes to Copper Country were done last month in the copy-edited version of the pages, but there were still three passages that were snarled sufficiently to require rewriting. Also: a few dropped words; a lot of “this could be shorter and better;” some phrasing that made me stop and stare while wondering, What made me think that made any sense?

It’s always a source of frustration to me that the uncorrected pages will go out to reviewers. They never see my best work, but at least the published version will be closer to what I hoped when I started writing that story.

The next pass will be through the page proofs, which will be the last time I can change anything before the book goes to the printer. After that, it’s out in the world on its own. So. Getting close to calling this one finished.

This morning, I am spinning my wheels about going on to Book #8. Last year, I wrote 30+ pages before getting caught up in the production process for Copper Country. I like the main character’s voice. I have a good structure in mind. I even have a general outline, which is rare for me; usually I’m flying blind while writing a first draft.

Here’s the hold-up: I am daunted by the massive amount of research this one will take. That’s the disadvantage to having a strong outline: I know how much I don’t know, and it’s a lot.

All of the earlier books have been research-heavy. That’s why they’ve taken me so long to write. Every time I’ve finished writing a novel, I’ve sworn it’s the last.

This time is worse. I’m distracted by the current political upheaval, and it’s even more tempting to think, “I’m done. This is too hard. I’m going to retire. I’ll share snarky memes on Facebook, and watch birds and cooking shows, and help Don clean up after an increasingly incontinent old dachshund, and enjoy the hell out of the life I share with a man I’ve loved since 1968.”

But — just for today — I’m going to do what I suggest to other writers. I’m going to put my hands on the keyboard and make some prose happen. I’ll use my stupid football analogy and tell myself, “Don’t even think about throwing a long bomb into the end zone. Just pick up some yardage. Get a little farther down the field.”

I won’t try to write a novel. I’ll write one sentence. I’ll look up one fact. I’ll write another paragraph.

Hello. My name is Mary and I’m a novelist.