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the post-writhing writhing

Just one other snippet of writhing, through the power of time travel and my text editor:

It is December 9th, and I need to tell you about freaking out.

My agent is taking my book to auction tomorrow. There are four editors "interested" and two who've passed and three we haven't heard from. I AM LITERALLY FALLING APART. LITERALLY. MY NOSE JUST FELL OFF. THERE IS BLOOD EVERYWHERE.

Okay, that part was a lie.

I need to email my agent. I don't know how this is going to go. I need her to tell me how to keep my nose on. It's not off yet, but it's seriously a matter of time. I'm jittering too much to keep the nose on for much longer.

So, here I am, 111 days after selling a book. I have felt at times, in between the writhing and the near-bursting, rather like the dog who has caught the car: "So, what do I do now?"

The answer, of course, is probably "opposable thumb implants and driving lessons."

And then, yesterday, not two hours after the contract showed up, I got my edit letter.

So, you know, there's now THAT to freak out about. So. Nothing new there.

Because this actually has been a long road of freaking out. I am not, apparently, the sort of person who thinks she deserves nice things to happen. Or something? I kept waiting for the evil shoe to drop. For the editor to wake up and say, "Nah, you know, nah. I was crazy for wanting that book." Especially since the contract just kept not being done and not being done and not being done. I tried to maintain positivity, but honestly, the longer I waited, the more I was sure it was all going to come to an abrupt end. I had little mental conversations. "Well, then, logically," I would say to myself in the shower, "my agent will just try to sell the book again." But it hasn't come to an abrupt end. I got the contract. Things are moving forward.

I've been trying to figure out how I'm supposed to be now; how I'm not supposed to talk about being freaked out, and how I'm supposed to pretend to be cool professional writer chick who is unfazed by this publishing gig. But that won't ring true. I'm still going to angst, and fret, and freak out, just like I did all along the way. I guess, if you're inclined to hate reading about that, you may want to remove me from your reading list. I could offer to filter, I suppose. We'll see how it goes.

Five years ago, if you'd pointed out a writer in my position who was angsting and fretting about their tremendous opportunity and good luck, I'd have clicked the back button in disgust.

With good reason. Five-years-ago Me didn't need to know any of that stuff. Especially since this is the place I wanted to be, regardless of how daunting I now find it.

I find myself pondering things like my edit letter (which also came yesterday) with some trepidation. "Hoo boy," I say, in my best hitchin-up-my-pants way. "Hoo boy, now comes the hard work."

But to say that the hard work is ahead dismisses the last seven years of work, the last twenty-seven years of ambition. To say, "I want to be a writer" was no great challenge for a seven-year-old; saving up for a typewriter actually wasn't too much harder for the eleven-year-old, either. I wrote to escape, back then. It just happened to be lucky that I was getting in some useful practice. But each step along the way, things got incrementally harder. And at times, I chose the easy path, and the writing suffered for it. (On the other hand, I got out and lived a little, so maybe the writing benefited, too; but I could have--and should have--practiced my craft more.)

(Numerologically it's a fun time for me right now. I started submitting seriously when I was 27, which was 20 years after I turned 7, which is when I said I wanted to be a writer; it is now 27 years past that time, and I have been submitting seriously--with the intention of getting to this very point--for 7 years. 7/27/7/27!!)

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is, that I realize that there is still a lot of hard work ahead--perhaps even the hardest, if sales aren't brisk right off the bat, or I run into rough criticism, or any of the 900 other things that might trip me up--but the last seven years may have been the hardest I'll ever face, because I had to do it all on faith. Faith in myself, I might add, which is kind of a perennial problem with most people I know. (They either have way too much or way too little.)

So, no. I don't like saying the hard work is ahead of me, because it not only dismisses my last 7 years, but the people who are also working on faith and fumes.

On the other hand, to say that the hard work isn't ahead of me is a bloody big lie.


I guess the hard work is ALL AROUND. I am floating on an ocean of hard work. I just spent seven years paddling away from shore with all my might. And now I'm here. In the ocean. Out of sight of land. And they just handed me a slightly more ergonomic paddle and said, "Get going. You're paddling until you sink, or until you die."

(Not unlike marriage, then.)

Hm. Yeah. Ergonomic paddles, ahoy.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 31st, 2010 02:09 am (UTC)
There is further hard work ahead, of course. The thing is, it's part writer-work, and part author-work, not at all the same things. The writer-work will likely stay as it is, however it is for you. The author-work, though. It's something else altogether.

Good luck, and keep paddling!

Mar. 31st, 2010 02:17 am (UTC)
Maybe it's like you just got permission to really swing at it? And now you don't get to back out and say, yeah, okay, peace and love guys, peace and love.

I feel like it's much harder to build a dream than to dream.
Mar. 31st, 2010 02:48 am (UTC)
...I'm more and more convinced the more I do this that if we had any idea at all what kind of hard work was ahead, and that the hard work never ends, none of us would ever start writing. We'd all flee in terror.
Mar. 31st, 2010 02:56 am (UTC)
Oh hey by the way, not totally on topic, but really really wanted to drive by and say W00t and HELLS YEAH YOU DID and superfabulous and CONGRATULATIONS. Have been pretty damned with the busy but saw on the facebook and let out a WHOOP that I then had to explain to Montreal, who's very happy for you too.

HELLS YEAH. (SO! Happy! for you. and you so do deserve it.)
Mar. 31st, 2010 02:58 am (UTC)
I think you just spotted land in the GPS, though, even if you can't quite see it with your own eyes.

But I also really like what behindpyramids says above.

(The rower in me wants to say that now they've switched you from a paddle to rowing oars. You move a lot faster but it's actually much harder work. Not to mention you're facing backward while moving forward!)
Mar. 31st, 2010 12:19 pm (UTC)
Soon, people will be bitching about what a prima donna you are!

You're a goddess. Good work.
Mar. 31st, 2010 12:43 pm (UTC)
OMG. YES. In some ways success is harder than failure. The reward for failure is the option to opt out without losing face or to try harder. The reward for success is *another harder* challenge + the expectations of those around you going up. Failure has its own difficult psychological repercussions but at least by our 30s most people pretty much know how they personally can ride it out but big success is a new thing and we have much less practice figuring out how to fit it into our internal emotional landscape.

As I said to a friend a couple of months ago- I've been given everything I've ever wanted and it's kinda freaking me out.
Mar. 31st, 2010 06:25 pm (UTC)
I remain extremely pleased for you.
Apr. 1st, 2010 04:17 am (UTC)
So basically, still neurotic and a work-aholic, just now there's new things to be neurotic and work-aholic about. I think Jim Hines also said that (or something similar) once.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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