|Photo credit: Dori Young Photography|
By Julie Kibler
As Calling Me Home pushes its way through the birth canal of the publishing process, I'm finding that certain things never change. In fact, I just remembered I referred to this phenomenon in my last post, but I'll go into a little more depth this time.
Even with the pregnancy test in hand, the plus sign glowing, the book contract that says I have a book, I've noticed that four things in particular are still burrs under my saddle—in addition to the compulsion to use really goofy literary devices and mixed metaphors. (In blog posts, I often allow them to stand, just for kicks.)
1. I'm afraid nobody will like what I wrote.
Just because one editor, or in fact, many more, liked my manuscript—enough to pay actual, spendable money for it!—I still quake at the thought of someone flipping to the first page, reading a few paragraphs, then tossing it away as dreck. Rejection, in fact, still hurts. And there are plenty of opportunities for rejection even after your beloved appears for pre-order on Amazon. The somewhat humiliating quest to convince published authors to read and blurb the book comes to mind. It reminds me to be gentle when I am in that position. Or, not that I'm there yet, but the inevitable bad review looms like a B1-bomber on the horizon, ready to plunge from the sky and obliterate me with one little push of a button. I'm already practicing in my mind, visualizing swatting it away like an annoying little gnat.
2. Procrastination is the best way to get things done.
I have always worked better under pressure. I assigned myself deadlines before I answered to anyone else on this writing stuff. Then, even with my own deadlines, I waited until the last possible moment, then rushed in and gave it my everything. I'm trying to change my stripes a bit—after all, I'm not the only one I would disappoint now if I missed an important deadline—but I still find this to be true. This week, my first pass pages, sometimes called page proofs, wait in a nice stack on my table for me to begin reading through them, checking for errors I missed or mistakes created inadvertently in the typesetting stage. Okay, that's not completely true. I already began working through them because I have a vacation to attend to in a few weeks and I don't want to be spending the week proofreading while the rest of my family cavorts on the sandy shores of the Outer Banks. Yet, every day, I search for any task I can logically claim as a higher priority before I get started on the day's chapters .
Why? I'm not sure. Perhaps it could be referenced back to number one. Perhaps I'm terrified I'm the one who won't like it. Perhaps I will be forced to admit I'm not the writer I hoped to be. Perhaps, even, it feels like a real job now, and wasn't I always great at procrastinating, even when I sat in an office and yawned at the orders that emerged from the fax machine like baby rabbits?
Or perhaps … I work best under pressure. Maybe we're back to that. I am one of the crazy souls who actually enjoys participating in NaNoWriMo and other schemes to get massive portions of the crappy first draft written in a month. The last thirty thousand words of Calling Me Home were the product of one marathon. The first thirty thousand words appeared during another. They may not look exactly the same, but the essence of what I wrote under pressure is most definitely there. And I sold the book.
3. I'm convinced I'll never be able to do it again.
So I've written three full manuscripts, two now under the bed. So I've sold a book. So what? Just like a few years ago, I'm not convinced I'll ever be able to take the plot fragments, the voices of half-formed characters, the setting notes that drift in my mind like memories of things that haven't happened yet, and set them down on paper in a coherent story, with proper conflicts and character arcs, three acts and probably a poem. Those other three manuscripts? They were flukes. I don't have the skills (refer to number one), the discipline (refer to number two), or … maybe even the desire to do it again.
For now, I'm just trying to go with this, and surprisingly, the process is coming back to me little by little. I have a semi-decent synopsis going, from which I believe I might be able to conjure an outline, from which I might just write another book. I tell myself, Peace, be still. It will happen. Then I panic.
|Image credit: Peter Vidrine's Flickr photostream|
4. I'm still trying to be someone else some days.
I read some books and fling them away in disgust because I feel like the author wasted my time—and I'm one of those people who is compelled to finish reading things.
But more often, I drop my head in shame, comparing myself and my writing to someone else's masterpiece. I think, I should be more gritty, or edgy, or lyrical, or detailed, or succinct, or serious, or funny, or luminous, or blunt, or … whatever I happen to think I'm not that particular day.
I try to change from an owl to a lark. I try to visualize myself as a booster parent and not a slacker parent. I try to incorporate whole wheat flour and fresh peppers into homemade things instead of buying frozen prepared meals to heat up and serve to my family. Okay, some of these things are good things, and I should strive to do them and will, but some of them … are just not me. (I'll leave you to figure out which ones.) But it boils down to this: The approval of a domestic editor and fourteen foreign editors has still not convinced me that just being ME is enough. One day, it's going to click. But probably not today.
But there's one thing that's still the same. There is one thing that is not a burr under my saddle:
5. I still love this life.
In spite of my fear of rejection, in spite of my procrastinating, night owl, never-good-enough ways, I still love this life. I can't think of anything else I'd rather do or be. I am a writer.