Like a Goddamn Poem
Holy crap, the 1000 WORDS book comes out in THREE WEEKS on January 9. Have you pre-ordered it yet? Did you know if you pre-order it either through Loyalty Books or Books are Magic you will get a signed copy and stickers? And did you know I am going to do extremely fun events in New Orleans, Brooklyn, DC, Philly, and Jacksonville? Where we will basically hang out and have fun and shoot the shit about writing? Can you freaking believe it? How is it even real? That this little newsletter has somehow turned into a book. And yet, somehow it has. There is even an audiobook, which you can listen to a tiny scrap of my voice on it here. Wild shit, people. Fingers crossed for January.
I’m still deep in copy edits, hoping to see the other side of it by next Thursday. It’s actually quite challenging to be working on this and be in pre-pub for 1000 WORDS. I am doing interviews and answering emails and watching things unfold in cool little ways which is all exciting but also incredibly distracting when you need your head to be in the game of this fictional universe you’ve created. So I find myself working on the copy edits through the weekends when there are no distractions. Then this past Friday I woke up and was like, why isn’t my brain working, and I realized it was because I had been ceaselessly working for days and days and guys, don’t do that! That’s bad!
So I had to just take a breather so I could function again. And then I worked straight through the weekend anyway, because I am one predictable bitch. Hopefully, I’ll get to the other side and it will have been worth it. This is what I keep telling myself anyway.
As for the copy edits, most I’ve been given are more kind of guard rail edits. House style. Chronology questions. Issues with securing rights for lyrics. A couple of logic questions. Things like that. So I’ve cleared most of those away.
Now, in these final stages, I’m thinking mostly about pacing at this point, doing a review of some scenes where I’m curious if they’re slowing down the motion of the book. When I write things that are character-driven (which is pretty much always) I have to be careful that the internal monologue or a flashback doesn’t get in the way of the forward movement. Everything has to matter. Everything has to be pushing the story or the character development forward. Also I’m eliminating those last little repetitions I’ve missed before. And there can be no filler, like I can’t use something just because something makes me laugh. (OR CAN I?)
I’m also looking for moments where I could nudge what we learn about the character a little bit further. I’m talking about one extra beat. One more thought, one more feeling. I’m operating with restraint here, but allowing myself to push the book just ever so gently further if I feel like it. Then I usually come up with a list of 15-20 to send to my editor just to get her opinion on them. Thank goodness for my editor.
The book is pretty clean, though. We’re getting there. It’s due by the 26th. I’m going to circle it all this week, print it out at some point, circle it one more time, and then hopefully send that sucker off. I knew that I’d get here because I always get here but there were definitely moments where it seemed impossible because, as we all know, writing is hard and takes a lot of focus and discipline and we don’t always have all the answers and we don’t always write beautifully, and also sometimes we don’t quite have the wisdom or information we need yet.
I always think about this conversation I had once with an acoustician. We were talking about the way sound travels, and he suggested I picture myself walking through a field, away from the sound of someone playing some music. If you walk long enough, you won’t be able to hear the music anymore, he told me. There is always an end to it. I pictured myself taking a step in one direction and suddenly being in silence. I found that image soothing.
You just sort of have to keep going through your project until you get to the end of it all. There is actually always an end to a story, one way or another. I do believe that. That if you keep writing, eventually the ending will surface for you, and you will have been able to give yourself everything you need to get yourself there. All of a sudden, that last line, the last edit, or the last word you need shows up, like a goddamn poem. One step in one direction. And then you know you’re done.
Have a good week everyone.
p.s. This week’s donation went to Zebra Youth, in honor of our buddy Kristen Arnett’s birthday.