Doing It The Heming-Way

I reached 60,000 words of my manuscript last weekend. My goal is to be at 70,000 words by Sunday night. Is it realistic? Probably not. But it doesn’t hurt to have a goal to shoot for. I’d still like to be “finished” by the end of the month, and it’s going to be a long hard slog to get there. I say “finished” because having a completed 80,000 word manuscript is only step one of a ninety-billion step publishing process. I’ve been listing to a lot of podcasts related to publishing and the unofficial publishing timeline goes something like this:

  1. Spend literal YEARS writing a manuscript.
  2. Then have it workshopped, critiqued, and edited by any friends, Romans, countrymen, king’s horses, king’s men, ladies dancing, lords a leaping, and drummers drumming you can happen to rope into becoming beta readers and critique partners. (Start cultivating your list of fellow creatives early on in the process)
  3. Once all of these people deem your book not-cringeworthy, you can either A. Pay for an editing service to go over your book with a fine tooth comb, B. Pray, and start querying agents, or C. Say forget it and self publish on Amazon. (Yeah! Your novel becomes a choose your own adventure book at this point!)
  4. After paid editor goes over your book you can move on to 4B or 4C
  5. Plan to query hundreds of literary agents. Some people query for years.
  6. If the agent likes the book, they will most likely give you edits.
  7. Do the edits. Resubmit book. This may happen several times.
  8. Then your book goes on submission with editors and one of them might want to buy it. Yay! It’s going to be published! (Maybe in 2 years if all goes well)
  9. But first the editor will give you still more edits.
  10. Do the edits.
  11. Wait.
  12. Work on next book, repeating process.

Is it any wonder Hemingway said “Write drunk. Edit sober.” I’ll stick to the drinking, thanks. I’m going to need A LOT of alcohol to get me through this. A LOT.

The next time you’re in Barnes and Noble and you hold a book in your hand, I want you to think about all the pure, unadulterated hell the author went through to get that book to you. It’s madness.

And yet, there’s not a thing I’d rather do.

I have this image that keeps replaying in my head of walking into a bookstore and seeing my book sitting there. (Of course I will emblazon social media with that moment!) Bonus point for starred reviews. And people throwing ticker tape parades in my honor. Ok, maybe not that part, because I LOATHE being the center of attention. But a nice note, on pretty stationary, that says you enjoyed it, and the 11–12–13–15(!!) years it may take before the book I’ve been working on off and on since 2008 ends up in a bookstore was worth it in the end.

Anyway, if it sounds like I’m punchy and out of my head, it’s because I am.

I put my notice in at work. Which was weird. Ever since my divorce, it’s been the stinky, rotting albatross around my neck. I was simply not made to sit at a desk and think about business in any capacity whatsoever. I can do it, and do it well, but it is not what I’m supposed to be doing. However it has been what I was supposed to be doing for so long, that now that I have other options, I don’t quite know what to do with myself.

And I’ve been eating, sleeping, and breathing my novel lately. Which is also weird. And I’m gnashing at the bit to get it done, partially because I really need a break from it, but also because I miss crafting. I want to go back to bouquet making and open my etsy shop, but I’m struggling so hard to stay focused on one thing and see it through. You really have no idea. I don’t think I’m really meant to do that point A to point Z thing either. I’m a meanderer and a saunterer, through life and all artistic pursuits. Again, I can point A to point Z with the best of them, but IT SUCKS!

Which explains why this blog is so all over the place tonight…

I did have a point to make. It’ll get to it.

Back in my previous incarnation at http://www.re-writingmotherhood.com, I used to complain a lot about how difficult it was to be a mom and a writer. It was difficult then because my two lovely children were hellbent on becoming Darwin awards every time my attention was elsewhere.

Now that they are 11 and 13, I firstly deserve a pat on the pat for keeping them alive this long, and secondly, want to update my complaint to say that it is still difficult to be a mom and a writer at any age.

This morning, for example, I was trying to write. I had my notes at the ready, and was all set to go, when I got interrupted by John, who couldn’t find any shorts to wear (because, ironically, they were in his drawer and not on the floor, or the laundry basket, or in the refrigerator (where I presume he looked, because he looked everywhere). So I get up to help him find the shorts (miraculously apparating into his drawer the minute I opened it), and in the time it took me to do that, Rory ate my notes that I left beside my laptop on the bed.

*insert your favorite string of expletives here*

So I want you to imagine, just for a moment, the mere suggestion that say, our good drunk friend Hemingway would ever be called away from his writing to locate a pair of wayward shorts. Or that one might ever pester F. Scott Fitzgerald (drunk again) to drag himself from The Great Gatsby to make breakfast. I want you to picture Charles Freaking Dickens stopping mid-A Christmas Carol to remind his child to brush his teeth. Laughable right? And yet, when I’m writing, all of that is just par for the course.

The children are obnoxiously needy, but the dogs are even worse. Wrestling right on top of my laptop keyboard, barking to go out, barking to come in again, barking because there’s a full moon, or an empty dog dish.

I’m tired of writing this book in tiny, stolen moments. It’s impossible to go into the deep, sustained writing headspace I need because of all the damn interruptions. I locked myself in a room last weekend and made huge progress. That is what I need. I wonder if it’s because I’m a woman, or because I’m a mother, or because I’m unpublished, that my writing time isn’t viewed as sacred by anyone else.

I’m not doing it anymore. I’m reclaiming my time.

I let it be known, to all who inhabit this house, that if I have announced that I am writing, and have disappeared behind a closed door, and have not made both visual and verbal contact with them first, before they try to have a conversation with me about dinner, or if the laundry has been folded, or where the remote might be hiding, or why they had no matching socks, or whether I would take them to the store, or why they aren’t an only child because their brother is driving them nuts, to first ask themselves “Would I interrupt Hemingway with this?”

(They don’t know Hemingway from Adam’s house cat, so I used Stephen King and Rick Riordan as other examples.)

If the answer is no, they not would interrupt Hemingway, (or King or Riordan) then they are absolutely, positively, most assuredly requested to vigorously leave me the hell alone.

I’m finishing a novel. Everything else can wait.