Don’t get your feathers in a ruffle. I’m not pregnant and have zero plans to be.
No, what “it” is, is something else. I finished my book.
Yes, it’s true. In case you’ve been reading this blog for some time you’ll know that I have been working on this book since…well…a long time ago. It’s been a very bumpy road getting here, including having to write an entirely new book for my agent. Well, 2 years, a natural disaster, a baby, postpartum depression, and a whole laundry list of other crap later, I have a finished draft.
I’m not quite sure how to feel about this. I was a little emotional at first. This story and these characters have been swimming around my head, fighting with me, growing on me, for a very long time. It’s like sending your kid off to boarding school. I sent the draft to my editor and was overcome with anxiety. I was terrified that she would tell me that my contract had become void because I had taken too long to produce anything, or that she was just going to tell me that it was complete crap. She e-mailed me back the next morning asking for a synopsis of the manuscript and told me she’d get to reading as soon as she could. Which means now…I wait.
It’s not the end of the world, the waiting. So far. I’m enjoying the time “off” from having to think about it, stressing over how to finish the stupid thing, stressing over whether or not it’s any good or if it makes sense. My editor can decide that and we can go from there. In the meantime I’m tinkering with some new ideas to save for later. And packing. Right. Because we move next week.
This new novel has been giving me such a fight. As a writer, I rely on seeing the story in my head and putting the words on paper. But it’s been almost impossible for me lately to see this new story I’m supposed to be writing. It’s just not there. And I don’t know why, or where it is, or how long it will take me to see it. Needless to say, it’s been frustrating. It’s been hard to find direction or figure out how I should tackle the beginning…I haven’t even been able to jump around from place to place as the pieces come together. None of it is there. I know it will come eventually, and normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but for some reason I feel bad for not getting anything done. I haven’t been put to any specific deadlines yet, but as in the past, I feel like I will frustrate my editor if I am not moving as fast as I should be.
And that’s okay. Life would be boring if you always knew what was happening, if you always knew what was coming.
I’m back to step one with my book. And I mean really step one–I’m pretty much rewriting the entire thing. The book I have is potentially going to be set aside for later, but at the moment my editor thinks it might be better to try a different angle and start completely from scratch.
Bit of a bombshell, yeah, but I’m all right with this. Why? Because even though I’m sort of moving backward, I’m still moving forward. I am still miles ahead of where I was a couple of months ago. I still have an agent, I still have an editor, and best of all, they are confident enough in me and my book to spend so much time working with me to get an amazing product. Most agents won’t do that. Unless your manuscript is so completely finished the only thing it needs is a proofreader, many agents won’t even think about talking to you. So to have one that not only is spending the time editing with me but is also walking me through the process of writing an entirely new book is…many things. Comforting. Humbling. I am so grateful.
That being said, of course, I am still staring at the rather overwhelming and daunting task of writing a new book when I was not anticipating doing so. We are still in the brainstorming stage right now–meaning I have no idea what I’m going to write–but my editor sent me this unbelievably helpful character outline (seriously I have never seen one as thorough as this) that is helping me to essentially re-write my main character. I had some anxiety about doing this because this character has been with me for a long time and I thought I knew everything about her. But some of the beauty of being a writer is that it means for one small fictional place in the world, you are God. I am God and I can do whatever I like even if it means having to re-introduce myself to this character. Strangely enough, I am enjoying it. It’s almost like learning new information about someone you have known for a long time. And I don’t feel like I’m compromising my artistic integrity by doing it. I know that, for better or worse, my editor has my best intentions in mind. The book that I have is not going anywhere. It’ll be back, when the time is right for these characters. (And should I point out, also, that for my editor to tell me to “save this plot for later” means an ungodly amount of confidence in me? How many editors and agents out there are willing to broach the subject of “later” in the publishing world until you’re a proven seller? Almost none. I know it doesn’t guarantee anything, but it is a comforting thought to at least think about.)
So, in any case, that’s where we are right now. I’m excited for this new process. I have no idea what it’s going to bring. But I’m so stoked.