Just two books in (Uncommonly Strong is about ready to be released — hooray!), and I’m already noticing a pattern…
First of all, I cannot multitask to save my life. More than one thing calls my attention and I simply start to lose it (not a beneficial trait when it comes to working a customer service job from 7:30 to 5 everyday).
The one great exception, however, is writing. I can think about or work on several stories at once, which is how I wound up with close to twenty novels-in-progress on my laptop. Unlike any other aspect of my life, when it comes to writing books, I can entertain ideas about multiple story lines or characters simultaneously, or jump from one to another and back again without breaking a sweat — and I absolutely love it.
This rule unravels, I’m now discovering, when it comes down to the dreaded Final Edits time. Namely, when a book is “complete” and ready for the last few rounds of tedious, torturous, nit-picky combing for spelling, grammar, and continuity issues. At that point, life itself pretty much goes on-hold, no other books can find even a sliver of space in my mind, and everything becomes about that book and getting it to the finish line.
It’s frustrating, exhausting, and all-consuming, because the perfectionist in me kicks into high gear and won’t let anything else slip into my awareness. Then the phone rings (as it just did before I typed this sentence… grrr…) or a customer walks in and I have to stop myself from shouting, “Do you not realize I’m trying to edit right now? Put the world on hold! This is important!”
Okay, so perhaps that’s overstating it a bit (alright, a lot), but you get the idea: multitasking gone.
Then comes the blissful, blessed moment when the book is finally done. *Insert pleasurable sigh here* All the agony, the excitement, the stress, the waiting — it’s all finally over. All the “pacing in the maternity ward”, as it were, is finally behind me, and I can look at the finished product and think, “Damn, I did that.”
With my mind still fully wrapped up in that book, I upload the final text, get my wonderful friend Natalie to make up the cover design, and as I sit and wait for a response from the publishing platform that the file is ready for final proofing, I sit around my house, staring at the walls, and wonder, “Now what?”
Writing — I’m all over the place. Editing and final upload — so single-minded that nothing else matters, and once it’s done, it leaves a bit of a void that I have no idea how to fill. Sure, there are plenty of things I could be doing (chores [blegh!], or working on other novels [go figure!]), but I find myself stuck in this sort of limbo, where my brain can’t quite let go of the finished book. I plop down on the couch in a daze, contemplating the movement of shadows across the living room wall as the sun sets outside my window, and wonder what on Earth I’m going to do next.
A few days later, something snaps and I’m on to the next thing: picking up the next book in my ever-present stack of items to be read, delving into another work-in-progress, or jotting down a completely new story idea. The rollercoaster surges forward again, and I wonder how I could have possibly felt so static the last few days.
When Hale and Farewell comes close to release in July, I’m sure it’ll happen all over again.
Up and down, up and down, chaos, swirling, spinning, and then full stop — and I’m loving every minute of it.