I hope. I’m actually writing these posts earlier in the month so I can clear my desk for the final push to the end of the manuscript and at this point, I can only pray I made my deadline.
In light of that deadline and the earlier post I wrote on impostor syndrome, I thought this post from January 2013 on the subject of CITY OF JASMINE was particularly apt…
Oh, chickens. Today is D-day, the date that CITY OF JASMINE is due to my editor. Before I was published, I always thought that deadline day would be a glorious orgy of joy, nothing but satisfaction and relief punctuated by a little tasteful intoxication.
Nothing could be further from the truth. There is relief, to be sure, but it’s swiftly replaced by the mounting horror that the book is vile and you are a talentless human being who ought to be culled immediately from the pool of creative folk. There is the shaming certainty that nothing worse has ever, in the history of the written word, seen the light of day and that if your editor used it to warm up her shredder, she would be doing the world a favor.
Does this sound entirely mental? OF COURSE IT DOES. By the time we turn in a book, we’ve generally been sitting with it for a year. Sometimes less, sometimes more, but that’s a good rough estimate of how long it takes for an idea to germinate and be coaxed and later battered into fruition. That is a very long time to sit with these characters, to listen to their voices and understand their feelings. It’s a long time to puzzle out their paths, winding around dark corners and back again from the dead ends. It’s a long time to make the leap from possibility to reality, and it is painful to know that once you hit the “send” button, IT IS OVER. For better or worse, the book is out there, a shy orphan in a cold world, looking for a friendly face.
So, with the relief comes the horror, and then relief again. Why? Because no matter how bad this book is, you never have to write it for the first time again. Whatever happens, you have come to know these people and their story. Both of those might change materially in rewrites, but you have made a beginning. And nothing is so hard as starting off.
Wish me well, my darlings. I’m taking a few days to clear my head and read for pleasure and await the word.