I’m having lunch with my sister today and she asks how things are going.
“Terrible,” I say. “I hate my book.”
“Aw!” she says. She’s read a few excerpts over my shoulder. “Why?”
I launch into an explanation of my main character’s radically shifting voice (to my perspective). She doesn’t agree. In fact, she’s giving me the crazy eye.
“You should write this down.”
“Why?” I say. “So I can torture myself?”
“No,” she says. “Because you did this with The God Catcher too. And if you’d written it down, like in a journal, you could look at the entry for wherever you’re at and go, ‘Hey look: “I hate my book.” Right on schedule!’ ”
Which, when you get down to it, is freaking brilliant. I’m sure I’m not the only author who falls in and out of love with their novels (Right?), although I don’t know many who want to talk about it. It’s a process, after all, and a job. Some days, your job is fabulous and somedays you fantasize about doing something completely different.
So here, begins the sporadic posting of my Book Journal. I hope it makes you laugh, and maybe feel a little better when your writing gets tough.
Book One, ~52000 words: I hate you today. In fact, I resent you. I know I need to write you but I’ll be happy when you’re done. I know I should stop seething at you and finish the stupid first draft. But you keep trying to make my deuteragonist into a romance novel character, my protagonist have some sort of hormonal imbalance, and my foil into a moron–and I’m still waiting to hear if the stuff your tying in to is going to mean you have to be drastically retooled. Knock it off or write yourself, you stupid book. You make me feel like I’m having PMS, a panic attack, and an argument with the Husband about crunchy vs. creamy peanut butter, which has somehow gone completely out of control and turned into a full-on fight. If I didn’t have any self control, I would return the advance and spit on you. It’s probably good I do have some self control, because I have to believe you will straighten up and fly right if I just keep going. Because if you don’t, Susan is going to go after you like a graffiti artist with her colored pens.
You are so lovely at your core. Why are you breaking my heart like this, Book One?!
Book Two, +27000 words: Honey, I wish we could spend more time together. But Book One is sucking up all my attention. Also, we’re still discussing that outline business that you thought we could skip over, but we both agree is pretty necessary now. Nevertheless, I think about you all the time. When I’m with Book One, I wish I could be with you (But we both also know that if I start paying attention to you, we’ll probably end up fighting like Book One and I are).
Book Three, ~300 words: I feel like we’re getting ready for a first date, you and I. We hardly know each other, but I’m excited. I feel like this could go somewhere wonderful. I’ve never done something like this with a YA book, but I think you might be the one to introduce me to a wonderful world. I just hope I can make time for you before I forget all your fantastic potential. Do you mind if I invite OneNote to help us?
Book Four, 0 words: You are but a twinkle in my eye…and a little in my editor’s eye. If Book One doesn’t kill me, you could be its less ornery successor. Or more ornery. That depends on a lot of things. But right now, the concepts for your plot are so fantastic, it’s taking all my effort not to tell strangers all about you. You’re somehow simultaneously terrifying and exhilerating, grounding and freeing, standard and illicit. Like leaving the drugstore with a pregnancy test and bumping bodily into one of my Freebie Five.
Which is weird. But oddly accurate.