How’s the Book Going: p. 239

Finally, 239 pages in, I would like to answer your queries about the new book. So, here it is: The new book is about a woman who learns how to open herself up to the world after a great personal tragedy. This is the first book under my name for adults. If I finish on time, the book will be out next year. I can’t yet share with you its title. The book is going well.

That is a lie: The book is going fine. I will not meet my first deadline, but I will finish on time.

Probably.

Every morning I sit down to type at the book around nine or ten, and I stop typing around two or three. Those in-between hours I am lost to the immediate world. I write slowly because I struggle with the impulse to read back what I’ve written so far and make small edits as I read. That is a lie: I do not struggle. I give in immediately.

These small edits often take an hour, or sometimes they can take four to five, sabotaging my desire (and my editor’s desire) for making forward progress in the plot. Sometimes I read back what I have written and I recognize myself, the cadence of my thoughts and my particular flare for relaying information, which is often out of order, or focusing on insignificant detail at the expense of essential information. I tend to overexplain and mix metaphors. Often I am disgusted. A lazy sentence or self-indulgent paragraph reminds me of the unpleasant surprise of a bad photo. I feel shame, and doubt, which can sometimes be processed in minutes, sometimes days. While I frown at my choices, I keep tapping the keys. Ironically the prose I produce in periods of great shame is often better than the prose I produce when I try to amuse or impress. I do not like to feel shame, hence why revision is constant. I have to capitalize on short (or long) bouts of disapproval. I emerge from these hours exhausted and ornery.

Sometimes, in the best of times, I can look at the work with clarity and benevolence, like one can make out the shape of an animal in the scribblings of a child. In these times, I am gentle and decisive. My prose screams at me but I know what it needs. On those days I whistle and sing as I leave my desk and go stand outside and stare at the trees in my yard, like a contented old homesteader. Sometimes I get caught by a sentence like a fishing line snags on a rock and I have to untangle all the sentences around it until it doesn’t bother me so much. Sometimes I forget to go to the bathroom for hours. Sometimes I am whispering to myself.

Sometimes I make myself cry. Next time I think I will write about the emotions of writing emotions. After that, I will offer some tips for staying away from the Internet while writing. I’m not really sure who reads this, but according to my WordPress stats, people still seem to land here. So, welcome. As you can already tell, I’m doing this series called How’s the Book Going. I’m doing this because I’ve realized I tend to be strategic about what I share with whom based on the aforementioned shame and fear of rejection. While this is not a conscious act, it prevents me from acting as my full self. I think it has an effect on my writing, too. I have resolved to use this platform to practice sharing, and not editing myself (and my work) so much. Thanks for reading How’s the Book Going. See you next time.

2 comments

  1. I am sorry if you inherited some perfectionist tendencies, but I don’t want you to change anything about your product.
    These words should be inspiring to anyone who does art. Thank you for reminding me of “Girls Who Code” and Brave Not Perfect.

    1. Thanks, Mom! And being a perfectionist is not so bad. We just have to remember to give ourselves the same amount of forgiveness!

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