January 20th, 2012

Keep writing!

I love to hear from readers, and one very kind thing they tend to tell me is, "Keep writing!" Or they ask me, "Do you have another book coming out? Are you writing a new book now?"

A year ago today, and any time before that, I would have answered these questions with no sarcasm. I might have said yes, I have another book coming out in about a year, and I am working on the revision. I might have said no, I do not have another book scheduled, but I am writing anyway, and the book I am working on might or might not sell. (Since the time I first sold a book in 2005, I have completed two manuscripts and countless partial manuscripts that didn't sell.) I spent many years mainly working as a copyeditor and writing books on the side, because I hadn't sold enough books to make a living or fill my workday.

But now when people ask me these questions, my first instinct is to laugh and say WELL YEAH in the tone of voice I would use if I had just totaled my car and you asked me if I was having engine trouble. My critique partner Victoria Dahl recently wrote four books in a year. My friend Christy Reece, who lives here in Birmingham, regularly has three books out in three consecutive months. Both authors have despaired to me about their schedules, because they are sometimes required to write one book while simultaneously revising a second and proofing a third. It may sound like hell, but I always wanted a schedule like that.

And finally, here I am. I'm expecting finished copies of The One That I Want to land on my doorstep any second so I can package them up and send them to book bloggers. The copyedit of Such a Rush was supposed to arrive last Wednesday, so I am suffering the sort of fatigue you feel when you have been poised and ready for something for forty-eight hours without it happening. I need to be writing my adult romance, Star Crossed, which I started during NaNoWriMo, and which is due to my editor on March 1.

And yet I'm writing a proposal for Simon Pulse instead, hoping to sell them some more romantic comedies. This idea is really adorable, y'all, but there are a couple of problems. One is that I can't figure out the deal with the heroine's current boyfriend, which is germane to the whole plot. (I am in a constant state of despair over one detail or another of a book; ask me at lunch and will have figured out the boyfriend and forgotten that he was ever an issue but there will be a new plot crisis looming. That is how I roll.) The other problem is that my proposals reek. I honestly don't know where a book is going until I get there, so my proposals sound like I am phoning them in. My son is a huge reader, and I often ask him if the book he's reading is good. He always says, "I don't know, because I haven't finished." I feel that way about writing.

So I am in a state of despair, confusion, and anticipation today. I am thrilled about all of it. And as a little homage to the jobs I held before this one, copyediting and writing articles on subjects that didn't particularly interest me, I leave you with a link to a hilarious 14-minute Moth story (I waxed poetic about the glory of The Moth last week here) by New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell that sums up my love for and frustration with those jobs: "Perverse and Often Baffling."