when you’re done with the book but it’s not done with you

I script the podcast on Google docs and write the blog posts there as well but when it comes to writing fiction, or a formal essay, I prefer to work in longhand, preferably with a Pilot V7 on a college-ruled spiral notebook, because it slows me down; as a product of the AOL Instant Messenger generation, I forged most of my adolescent relationships over a keyboard, and now, as a result, I type about 90 words per minute, which is way faster than I can actually form thoughts.

Every time I write a book, then, there’s a two- or three-week period where I’m just typing up the handwritten manuscript. Re-experiencing the story that way. It’s an exciting process cuz I’m going over the passages that seem really good, the stuff I’m proud of, and it’s just generally re-affirming and heartening to think that this whole story–which began as such a vague tenuous jumble in my head–eventually came together, achieved coherence, and that I’ll soon be holding a solid typescript, the summation of those efforts; shortly after that, and better still, I’ll be sending it out into the world where agents will hopefully read it and be just as dazzled.  

It’s a little delusional, but it’s exciting, and kinda torturous too. 

Especially with this one, which is a kind of high-concept “upmarket thriller” (meaning, essentially, a genre story with ideas underscoring the action); of all the novels I’ve written, I think this one has the best chance of snagging an agent, plus it’ll be helped by the podcast’s recent success. So I’m enjoying the process of typing it, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy the process of editing the successive drafts (and then typing those corrections), but I also feel more restless with this part of the process than ever before.

With those earlier efforts I just tried to make sure I had my queries sent out before November, so that I was likely to hear back from everyone before they went on December vacations, but now, given that I have a better feeling about this one than I had about those, I feel like these early drafts are somehow standing in the way of my career getting started. 

Which is nuts. 

For one thing, I’m getting my hopes up about the book’s success, which means I’ll be more wounded than I need to be in the event that it doesn’t get picked up by an agent (also, it bears mentioning: just cuz you have an agent doesn’t mean you’re gonna get a book deal; also also, even if you do get a book deal, it takes a long time for editors to get around to your book, read the whole thing, deliberate with their team…). 

I’m not gonna be able to enjoy the rare delight of novel revisions if I’m hustling toward the finish line. Also, the final product’s gonna suffer if I don’t take my time with it.

That being said: it’d be nice to be done with this so that I can devote myself to the next thing. I’m halfway done with the third eBook, which I hope to publish before Christmas, and I think there’s another slim novel, still just a couple pages of bullet points in a notebook at this point, that I’d like to start playing with.

Plus the normal load of blog posts and podcast episodes…

I’m very proud of this novel, and I’m incredibly excited to share it with you (I think I’ll self-publish if agents don’t bite), but at the same time, ungrateful as it sounds, I’m looking forward to the day, sometime soon, that it’ll be off my desk. 

At the same time: I dread being completely done. It’s immediately saddening to imagine a daily life that doesn’t include this story: tinkering, researching, contemplating and savoring. 

The process is an emotional thing.

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