Monday, October 21, 2013

Post-Deadline Thoughts

As of 1:14 A.M. October 21st, I have finished my first round of revisions. I have met my first deadline, and it feels unbelievable.

Revising this book was the hardest thing I've ever done. Drafting it had been so simple--the story told itself, poured through my fingertips as if I were only a vessel for it. It is, as my publisher says, a "jigsaw puzzle," and while drafting, the pieces had fallen into place all by themselves, and I had expected revising it to be just as easily.

It didn't, of course. Because the book is told in a non-linear fashion, I couldn't move a scene without changing two scenes before it and three scenes that followed. I would try to make subtle revisions, a nudge here, a shift there, and everything would fall apart, and I would sit curled on my floor with my laptop cast among the circle of charts and revision plans and the pages of my edit letter, thinking about all that could go wrong, all that was going wrong. I thought about all that homework piling up and all of that college stuff I hadn't touched yet. I thought about the thirty, forty, fifty chapters of my book I had yet to edit. I thought about all of the chapters from contests that I had yet to critique and all those manuscripts from my internship that I had yet to read.

Basically, I sat there and whimpered. Cried. Sent panicky, all-caps emails to just about everyone--critique partners, non-writer friends, teachers, my agent. Cried some more, thinking about marketing and publicity and how I didn't know how to do any of it. A bit more, imagining all of the bad reviews I was sure to get. And then some more, because there was so much to do, and I would have more time to do if I would stop bawling.

Today, of all days, I should have had a breakdown. I had noticed a pattern--they usually came during the ungodly hours of Monday morning, surprise, start off the week strong! Today (well, yesterday, really) was the last day before my deadline, and I wasn't finished with my final read-through. It was a perfect opportunity to eat chocolate and cry, and I was ready to, when I was suddenly struck by what an incredible thing it was for me to be stressed at all.

I was stressing over turning in my manuscript on time to my dream publisher. My editor brought some of my favorite books, books that I've grown up with, into the world--she had made it possible for me to fall in love with these characters and peek into their distant lands and take them with me, between covers designed by people who were now working on my cover, copyedited by people who were combing my manuscript for mistakes, loved by a team that was now taking an enormous risk by loving my book as well.

It's two in the morning. I am exhausted, sleep-deprived, barely aware of what I'm typing, and I am the happiest person in the world.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

If You Give an Author Some Chocolate encourage her to revise, she'll eat it.

She'll eat it slowly because there is an art to eating chocolate bars. She'll try to revise while holding the chocolate bar in one hand, but realize that she can't revise without proper music.

If you let an author look for proper music, she'll decide that her normal revising playlist simply isn't good enough, and she will use up a good half an hour trying to develop a new one before finding the perfect one on 8tracks.

If you give an author a perfect playlist, she'll sit at her desk and gush about how ABSOLUTELY PERFECT it is to anyone who will listen (IT IS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT). Eventually, she'll try to revise, but she'll drop her chocolate bar and leave an awful little smear on her manuscript. So she'll go to the bathroom closet in search of Clorox wipes, and find a spider instead.

If you let an author find a spider, she will scream. Loudly.

Once she settles down, she'll want to kill the spider. It'll jump and disappear off to some secret spider lair in her house to plan her later demise, and she'll scream a bit more before she remembers that she's supposed to be revising. But she'll realize that she clearly can't revise while holding a chocolate bar in one hand, so she'll open up an internet browser and look for a Halloween costume.

If you let an author loose on the internet to look for a Halloween costume, she will certainly find herself looking at books instead within five minutes, and eventually she'll go downstairs in search of her credit card.

If you give an author a credit card, she will buy ALL THE BOOKS.

If you let an author buy ALL THE BOOKS, she'll soon realize that she has blown way, WAY too much money in one night, and freak out. But she really wants the books...and that reminds her that she has her own book to finish revising.

But she still hasn't finished her chocolate bar.