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Soooo, when's that book of yours going to be done?

Posted: January 15th, 2010, 9:44 am
by ecphillips
Just how should the first time novelist answer family/ friends/ acquaintances and/or demonic interior voices when asked optimistically/nonchalantly/cynically, “So, when’s that book of yours going to be done?”:

A) Well, thanks for asking! I am working on getting my manuscript in tip-top shape before I send it off into the world of publishing which is currently in the midst of unprecedented upheaval due to the advent of the digital reader, big box retailers, Amazon, etc., ad nauseum, ad vomiteum. (Hopefully by this time the questioner has moved on; certainly mentally but perhaps physically as well).

B) Seriously? Are you that much of a clown that you think I can just pull a sweeping epic out of my hiney in mere months? Ok, so maybe it’s been years. Ok…closing in on a decade, but still…Why are you looking at me like that?

C) Oh, shut up.

Perhaps it’s just me. Maybe no one else has had to battle the demons that whisper, “Soooo, just why is it taking so darn long for you to finish the book? FINISH ALREADY!!” Well, after six years (did I just admit that? ouch) of writing, I’ve come to accept that there are many different factors in finishing a debut novel. Some of it has to do with lack of time, learning the craft, change in direction/perspective and a heaping helping of procrastination…oh, and life.

On some days, I can finally admit to myself that the SIX YEARS (it is starting to feel kind of cathartic) is nothing to be ashamed of…in fact, it is a kind of a badge of honor. How many other creative endeavors have I devoted that much of my life to? And, had I finished my manuscript five, four or even two years ago, it would not have the depth it does today. I have lived more; I have become older (wiser? I wouldn’t go that far), a mother (twice) and I know my writing reflects that growth and development.

So, is there a perfect answer to the question? Of course, you have to be honest with yourself. There is a difference between obsessively nit-picking to avoid rejection and listening to your gut that tells you your manuscript is not quite ready to be sent out into the cruel world. I guess you just have to get to a place where you can honestly tell the voices in your head and elsewhere that you are working at the speed that is right for you and your project. It will be done when it is done.

Or, if that isn’t working for you, just pick C and keep writing.

Re: Soooo, when's that book of yours going to be done?

Posted: January 15th, 2010, 12:40 pm
by brian_crawford
I feel your pain. I think most people who've never tried to write a book have a skewed view of how long it takes to complete one. They think of guys like James Patterson pumping a thriller out every ten months. Don't let them rush you... you'll know when it's done!

Re: Soooo, when's that book of yours going to be done?

Posted: January 15th, 2010, 12:54 pm
by Sophie Minter
When I feel this way, I call it the ugly baby syndrome. Everyone knows I'm working on a book, everyone wants to see it, but I won't let them due to the fear that they will think my baby's ugly. Okay, well, see it's my baby and even though I don't think it’s ugly the thought of showing it to someone else makes me question the cute dimples, baby drool, and fat fingers. These are adorable to me, but to others? Maybe not. But if I want to be a published writer, at some point I have to let my ugly baby out into the world and hopefully it will be regarded as not so ugly.

Re: Soooo, when's that book of yours going to be done?

Posted: January 15th, 2010, 4:36 pm
by Andrewauthor
I hate this question. I've been struggling for some time to finish a novel, so my response is usually "Well, it's coming along. I'm just working on some revisions right now", and allow that period of revisions to last indefinitely

Re: Soooo, when's that book of yours going to be done?

Posted: January 15th, 2010, 7:51 pm
by ecphillips
Thanks for your comments...I've never written a blog entry before and found it fun and challenging. Hmmm, kind of like writing a novel.

Brian: thanks for the encouragement, it always helps to know I'm not the only one.
Sophie: ugly baby! love, love, love it! that is EXACTLY how it feels. Sometimes I even have a mental image of my manuscript like baby some point, I'm going to be ready to push the basket out to sea:)
Andrew: I think I've said those exact same words...I really don't really ever say "shut up"...but I do think it sometimes!

Best of luck to all of you in your writing endeavors!!

Re: Soooo, when's that book of yours going to be done?

Posted: January 17th, 2010, 2:41 pm
by rose
A contest worthy question in itself.

I have two favorite answers. If I am pressed for time: "It's finished, in some dimension or another." This leaves the querent feeling satisfied, if slightly baffled.

Or, on more leisurely days I will go into a long diatribe about the detailed ins and outs of queries synopses agent response time odds of acceptance manuscript shopping, production scheduling. This leaves them sorry they asked and they will never ask again.