Today is one of those days that started out so promisingly. I woke up excited to research (have I mentioned I love researching?) and brainstorm about Velva Jean #4. This is probably my very favorite part of the process, when it’s all about possibility. I don’t know yet where the new story will take me, but I’m imagining all the places I can go with it. I haven’t started molding it or shaping it or telling myself, “You can’t do this or that because it doesn’t fit the outline.” The story is still wide open to me.
These kinds of days– when you’re most excited to get to your desk– are inevitably the ones that get sidetracked the fastest, usually by all the housekeeping (i.e. correspondence, paperwork, Social Media-ing, and other office-related matters) of running an office/business/small multi-book empire. And today I got sidetracked. Velva Jean #3 (in which she learns to spy) has been in my editor’s hands for the past couple of months, and this afternoon Velva Jean #3 came back to me, complete with editorial letter and notes.
It’s a funny mindset when you hand in a book for the first time. While you’re waiting on the notes you feel alternately liberated and anxious: Thank God it’s off my desk and in the hands of someone else! I can start the new project! I can take a day off! I can lie down!
And: What if she doesn’t like it? What if she thinks it’s horrible and suddenly wonders why on earth she ever wanted the book in the first place? What if I’m never allowed to write or publish a book again?
For about three weeks, I’m able to relax and let the book go, as if it (almost) never existed at all, but sometime around the fourth week I start getting a little clinch around my heart every time I check my email. I think: Not today. Don’t send me the notes today. I have too much to do and catch up on. I’m not ready yet. My office isn’t ready yet. Please please please don’t send those notes.
It’s an even funnier mindset when you get the book back: There you are! Oh thank God she liked you! Welcome home– I’m going to get you all fixed up and ready and polished and shiny so that you can go out into the world.
And: You again. I was done with you, and now you’re back. Can’t you see I have other projects? How do you expect me to get all this work done? How am I supposed to write a new book while you’re still hanging around?
Writing is exhausting enough, but– as I’m sure you can see– thinking about writing is almost as bad.
So today, while Velva Jean #4 (what there is of her) looked on sadly and a little dejectedly, I moved her aside and welcomed Velva Jean #3 home again, going through her page by page (right now she clocks in around 511), reading each and every comment from my editor. I explained to VJ#4 (and myself) that she (I) will have to be a little patient, that I can still work on her, but that right now VJ#3 has to be first in line because, well, she came first. And I need to fix her up and get her ready and polished and shiny so that she can go out into the world and pave the way for the other books to come.
Causes Jennifer Niven Supports
Alley Cat Allies
The American Cancer Society