Friday, June 29, 2007

I love it, I love it not

Every book I write goes through several predictable stages. When I first come up with the idea, I love it. It's the best idea I've ever had, and it will be the best book I've ever written. I love it until I finish a proposal and send it off to my editor, at which point everything changes. The moment the package is transferred from my hands to the postal worker's (or I hit the "send" button) I am sure I've made a terrible mistake. The book is the worst idea I've ever had, and it's going to end my career.

Then, a few weeks or months later, I get a call. The editor loves it and she's buying it. Yay! The book is wonderful again. I am so clever. But then I have to write the thing. Suddenly I'm seething with doubts. Why did I think this was a good idea? I can't write this book. I'll have to send the advance money back.

Yet somehow I do finish it. I've never not finished a book that was under contract. I lovingly polish the manuscript, falling in love with the idea all over again, and send it off. And immediately I am sure the book will not be accepted and I'll have to start from scratch. My career is once again over.

Happily, the editor usually likes it, and I feel like a genius again--until I receive the edited manuscript and I see in black and white all the mistakes I made, all the changes the editor wants me to make, and I feel dumb again. But somehow it gets done, though I'm positive readers will hate it and never pick up one of my books again. As if I'll ever sell another one.

I don't love the book agaiin until I receive the final page proofs. It's only when I read it again from start to finish, as if I were a reader, that I can see the story as a whole with fresh eyes, and fall in love all over again.

Of course, I continue to feel insecure about it. That's just how most writers are. Once the book is released I have to deal with reviews, comments from readers, and worries about whether it's selling well. It's a continual up and down. One day I'm brilliant, the next day I'm the village idiot.

Fortunately today I'm a genius. I just read through the page proofs for GOOD HUSBAND MATERIAL, my January 2008 book, and I love it again. For this week, anyway!

11 comments:

Christa said...

I think you should should send out advance copies so readers can love it too :)

cas2ajs said...

I'm with Christa! But you know your readers will love it because we love your writing.

Cheryl

Estella said...

Your books are always good!

BethRe said...

I'm sure it's hard, the story, I'm guessing becomes like your child. It's hard to let it go in the world.

Patricia W. said...

I imagined a see-saw with two small girls whose feet barely reach the ground. Teeter-totter.

A writer's life is not easy. But your books are good.

ABamaBecky said...

If its any consolation, we (your fans) appreciate the emotional roller coaster you ride when you are writing! I'm glad today is a good one for you!

Cherie J said...

Sounds like agony and ecstasy. As a reader I don't always realize how tough it is emotionally for an author to put together such great works time after time. Thank you for that!

Kathleen said...

Can't wait to read this one too!!!

Kara Lennox said...

Aw, you guys are so sweet! I've been crazy busy most of the day but I'm glad I checked back here to see all your kind comments.

Writing is definitely a crazy business! But I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Kara

bettye griffin said...

Sounds like a familiar process. And I thought I was the only one . . .!

Maureen said...

It sounds like a roller coaster ride.