There’s a stage in a book’s life that I don’t see much talked about: post-deadline unreality. It develops like this:
I write Dream a Little Dream, which is due out in November 2012; my beta readers give me feedback, I revise and polish, and submit it to my publishers, Choc Lit, bang on the 31st January deadline.
Phew! Whoop! Yeahhhh! For a day or two, I never want to see the book again.
The next couple of weeks are like a school holiday – I feel end of termish, I chill, I catch up, I cut a swathe through my To Do list, I attend lunches and meetings I had no time for in the two or three months pre-deadline.
Then I begin to wonder when I can reasonably expect to hear cries of delight from Choc Lit …
By the end of the third week, I enquire, casually, whether Dream a Little Dream has been read, yet.
I wonder whether they hate it, and don’t know how to tell me.
I become quite sure that they hate it, and soon will be telling me!
I begin to rewrite it in my mind, knowing exactly what’s most hated, and formulate ways to save the book.
I receive an email saying that it will be read this weekend. Oh. OK. Nobody yet hates it. Good.
On Monday, I look for email to say whether it’s loved or hated.
Thursday – email! Dream a Little Dream is loved! Hurrah! I am happeeeee! I’m told, ‘It’s OK, you can breathe again.’ There will be revisions, of course, but it doesn’t sound like anything major. My editor’s working on other projects but will send me editorial notes in a couple of weeks.
End of term feeling reasserts itself. I chill. I’m all caught up so I check my Amazon rankings a lot and get my accounts done for my accountant.
And then I begin to miss my characters. Liza wants to make her motivation clearer in a particular scene. She’s thought of something clever to say to cut Dominic down to size. Dominic’s thought of things he’s forgotten to tell me about how he feels about Liza. I make notes. I want to be with my characters again. But I must be strong! When I receive my edits, I’ll return to Liza and Dominic for several weeks and will need all the objectivity with which absence will reward me.
But I still want to be with them.
I cruise a couple of the sites I used for research, in case any new developments have arisen that could augment/mess up my book.
I wonder what the cover will look like.
I talk to Choc Lit about the next book, and I try not to get drawn too far into it because I don’t want to begin living with those characters. I haven’t yet finished with Dominic and Liza. I want them back. I miss them.
I write columns and deal with students and competition entrants. I have a cover created for Where the Heart Is, a serial that ran in a magazine before Christmas, and self-publish it as a novella, as I have my other serials … and I miss Dominic and Liza some more.
I post on Facebook about this, and am told that this is not normal behaviour – for a normal person.
I cheer up. I’m not weird, I’m a writer. I am not a normal person! I’m a novelist. For me, this IS normal behaviour!
Normal for post-deadline unreality. Such an unreal place to be.
Hope I get my edits soon … I miss Dominic and Liza.
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