It’s been a little quiet around here, hasn’t it?
That’s because I’ve had to be quite stern with myself, putting myself in a kind of content solitary confinement that made me ignore everything—including this site, my job, my family, and (occasionally!) my hygiene—while I sprinted toward the finish line of my new book.
Part of the proceeds for the new book sales will go toward buying lavish gifts for everyone in an attempt to make up for it.
It got a little rough toward the end. If you’ve ever worked on an overwhelmingly huge project, you might glimpse yourself in the graph here.
The writer Andre Dubus III (House of Sand and Fog) likens the writing process to feeling your way along a dim, very long tunnel. Even when your eyes adjust to the darkness, you can still see only a few feet ahead of you.
Not unlike a solitary, literate mole.
I think that’s what is feels like to be in the midst of any big project any of us might take on—like a presentation, sales meeting, campaign launch, or what have you.
Since I submitted my manuscript for the book (called Everybody Writes) yesterday to Wiley (woohoo!), I’m now out of the tunnel and blinking in the Saturday sunshine like a spring mole emerging from its larder. Tomorrow is June already? When did that happen?
Four years ago, I wrote a kind of reflection on this process. I’ve updated it here:
1. Confidence. I’ve crafted a killer proposal to write a book based on an original, amazing idea and a unique approach. My book is useful. It solves a problem lots of people have, and by writing it I’ll create bounty and blessings for all. I write a proposal oozing with wit, charm, and warmth: I smugly mail it off and open a celebratory bottle of something. Might as well celebrate while I still can. I’m going to be very busy very soon, you know.
2. Anxiety. Why aren’t they getting back to me? Hello? Where is everyone? Why haven’t they accepted the proposal? Wait… will they accept my proposal?! Crap! My ringer was off! What if they tried to call? Did they?
3. Elation. YES!!! I’m writing a book!
4. Fantasy. I’ll get up early every morning and go to the coffee shop, where I’ll write in the same booth in the back. I’ll wear a thoughtful expression and maintain a wise writerly demeanor. The staff will get to know me, and respectfully they’ll have my latte waiting and save the last scone for me. Maybe I’ll wear a beret. Maybe I can have a launch party there…
5. Self-doubt. Wait… I’m writing a BOOK? Who am I kidding? What do I know? Who talked me into this again? Must ID scapegoat to blame.
6. Procrastination. No need to fret now. I have plenty of time. The manuscript due date is when…? Well, whenever. Ages from now. The third season of Scandal is out on Netflix! I’ll binge-watch the first two seasons now. And hey! What’s up, Facebook?
7. Realization. Wait. The manuscript is due WHEN?
8. Bargaining. If I finish this paragraph, I’ll let myself eat the chocolate chip muffin saved from earlier. Or maybe I should eat half now so I have the energy…
9. Depression. This is horrible. I hate this. This is stupid. I’m stupid. And ugly. I hate writing. I have nothing new to say. I don’t want to do this. I can’t do this. I wish I were dead. Also, I wish I had another muffin.
10. Repeat steps 5-9 above for an indeterminate period of time, in an endless, private circle of hell.
11. Annoyance. Leave me alone! Stop calling me! Stop emailing me! Stop knocking on the door! Stop asking what’s for dinner! Stop breathing inside the house at all!
12. Actualization. (Silence. Save for tap-tapping on keyboard.)
13. Exultation, best done blinking in the sunlight again. YES! I wrote a book. I’m an author! (Phew.)
14. Consciousness. I used to be an author. Now, I’m in sales.
Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide for Creating Ridiculously Good Content is what would happen if The Elements of Style had a baby with the Internet. It will be published by Wiley this September.
Image credit: Ancestry Images