Once upon a time, my significant other wrote an English paper, which he titled “The Light at the End of the Tunnel Might Just be a Train”.
While his teacher didn’t seem to find the title all that funny, I certainly do. And these days, the title seems to make sense to me.
Not, mind you, that I spend much time in tunnels but I’m in the thick of all sorts of writing business and at times like these a writerly fatalism colours my outlook. The writing’s nothing glamourous. Most of it’s sloggy and grammatical and related to my propensity for what my editor, Gina, calls “flying body part” phrases like “his eyes roamed” and the words tiny and revel. They have joined my Ctrl+H list – words and phrases I MUST remove from my drafts before the manuscript can see light of day. The list, I have no doubt, will grow longer the more books I write.
But I did complete my edits for “Learning Curves” and Gina really liked them, so it’s off to the copy editor. Hoorah. And TPTB have accepted my next historical, too, which brings my total number of books sold to 4. “The White Swan Affair” doesn’t have a release date but it does have a contract and I have another deadline, albeit not for a couple of months yet. And finally, most pressingly, I’m completing the last touches on my next, as-of-yet untitled contemporary, which is due for release in September. The deadline for that is looming, only a couple of weeks away. I’m close but it still affords me its share of palpitations.
That’s quite a plateful, isn’t it?
So I laughed my head off when I read Keri Steven’s hilarious, very on-point observations about writing and life after “The Call” earlier this week on Susanna Fraser’s blog. You spend all of this time, coddling what Keri brilliantly calls your Precious Baby Manuscript. All of your energy is focused on becoming a writer and making the sale. Once you sell, you tell yourself it will all be moonlight and buttercups. Suddenly, you will be an “Author” and you will be able to devote all of your time and energy to writing. The words will flow, your children will never interrupt you with the news that they’ve just sent their favourite truck down the upstairs toilet and your S.O., should you have one of those, will be happy to shoulder the burden of the laundry and eating yet another meal of chicken fingers and frozen veg. Because you are an “Author”. Just mundane necessities cannot disturb your consciousness.
Because if you think selling the first book was hard (and it is!) well wait until you’ve got to write more of them. It isn’t enough to have one beautiful, brilliant, polished book under your belt. Now you have to have more of them.
Lots more of them.
And written on schedule and to a deadline.
It takes discipline and resolve. And even as you’re writing, you need to be juggling things like promotion and name recognition and author brands.
It is a lot, which is why I think it’s good (in retrospect) that getting the first one published is so hard. You need to be stubborn and self-promoting to get that first book sold. You need to be stubborn and self-promoting to get every book after that sold, too.
It’s worth it and when I make it to March 1st and hand in my next book, I’ll sit back, take a tiny* breather, let my eyes roam round my office* and revel* in the satisfaction that writing brings me.
Then, I’ll start the process all over again!
*with apologies to my editor. I just couldn’t resist! 🙂