Saturday, August 15, 2009

Look, Ma, No Hands!

This is me. No, not me on the roller coaster. I am the roller coaster. (Cuz it's a metaphor, yo.)

I go through these ups and downs as I write, edit & release a book and I've only recently realized that they are the same ups and the same downs every time. (I'm a slow study. My family has known this for years, apparently.)

I start off like the Top Thrill Dragster (at Cedar Point) or the Aerosmith ride (Disney MGM Studios) or Space Mountain (Disney Traditional). Fired out of a cannon. No click-click-click slow chug to the first drop for me. No, sir. I'm accelerated at multiple Gs. Zooooom! My enthusiasm for a new idea shoots me forward. "This book is amaaaaaazing!" I scream as I race up the first hill...

Then comes the first drop. The bottom falls out. A few thousand words in, suddenly reality (and gravity) hits and I go plummeting down. What the hell? I thought this book was good? It's boring! It's trying too hard! It's dreck!

But that's a short drop. Almost before I have time to fully realize I'm falling, I'm back up again. Jolted up so fast I'm almost lifted off my seat, banging against the harness. I don't fly quite so high this time (which is good because I won't have so far to fall). Then begins the dips and wobs and weebles, corkscrews and loop-de-loops of writing the middle of the book. It's pretty good. It's not so bad. It's not so good. It's mediocre. It's better than I thought it was! Not as good as I thought it was. Up, down, and upside down I go. But always racing forward.

Then the end! It's completed! A victory! Up we go! But then I have to let someone else see it. Oooh, anyone else feeling a little queasy? We just dropped down again so fast I think I left my stomach up there. But the beta readers like it (with a few suggestions) and I start back up again. This is the slow click-click-click chug to the next high as I polish and perfect and my confidence grows. This is a good book. Synopsis, cover-letter, it's ready to go. Out the door! They'll love it! They'll buy it! How could they not? It's fabulous!

I'm up pretty high now, but I'm not ready to fall yet. The waiting causes little teasing downs and ups that make me think I'm heading for the big drop, but I'm not. I'm at that point where I can see the entire amusement park spread out around me. So high up I can see the lake (manmade or otherwise) and look down on the giant ferris wheel. I glide high above it all. Waiting for the plunge I know is coming.

The response arrives. Scream with me! Throw your hands up! Before I even open it, I'm falling fast. (I always assume it's a no. I'm an optimist, but I can't seem to reprogram my brain to think positively when I see that response in my inbox.) I open it. Bad news? Keep falling, then click-click-click your way back up again with another submission. Good news? Whoosh. Up on top of the world again.

But it doesn't end there. You'd think I'd stay up, right? My book is getting published. But then come edits. First round edits (and this has nothing to do with how extensive or necessary they are, it just is) - I'm down. I think the book is awful. I don't know why, but this seems to be my pattern. I'll be wondering why my editor bought this piece of crap right up until the final edits. On my last chance to change a word before it goes to print that is when suddenly I will realize that this is a good book! Who knew? Up we go!

The book comes out and, after the initial high, we're in the dips, corkscrews and loop-de-loops again. Do readers like it? Some yes, some no. Ups and downs. Eventually, the ride evens out and I hop off. Wobbly -legged, but ready to jump on the next one.

But the tricky part? Being at four different points, on four different rollercoasters at the same time. Starting a book, editing a book, with one waiting in submission limbo and another just released. Are you dizzy yet? Welcome to my neurosis. The ups and downs and inside out turns of a writing life.

It's a good thing I love roller coasters.


Leah Braemel said...

I think that's the best analogy I've ever read. I've only been on one real-life rollercoaster - Space Mountain at Disneyworld. Yeah, basically the same sort of sick feeling as you cling on for dear life, then pour yourself out of the cab and wobble away on shaky legs at the end.

Yup. GREAT analogy.

Vivi Andrews said...

Thank you, Leah! Ah, the delights of the (nausea-inducing) writing life, eh? :)