My Book Will be Published–Now What? Now that I know my book will be published—a two-book deal is on the table—what my writing teacher promised (see my 1019/07 post) has come true…I’ve started writing again and it’s good. I’m well into the second novel, the one I couldn’t write for almost two years. Told a friend yesterday that as long as I was in labor with the first one (before it was accepted for publication), I was unable to get pregnant with the second one. Conception, pregnancy, labor, delivery, these threads are in my writing; I’ve stopped trying to escape them…so it’s no wonder that my metaphor about writing follows this theme.

I have the perfect place to write, the BEST computer—built for me by my supportive and mostly quiet husband, a decent cat who makes few demands, and a life filled with other writers. But for two years the words wouldn’t come…not true…I started half a dozen things, but what wouldn’t come was going into depth, getting to the point where I could do what I love most, which is revise. The characters were one-dimensional, the settings under-developed, the plot invisible. What I’ve come to accept about my writing is that I start—ALWAYS—with character. If I will just keep plugging away, regularly, those people I’ve created will share their stories. (On the paradox of creating characters who then take off on their own, doing things differently from what the writer planned, heading in unimagined directions, saying surprising things in unique voices, Anne Lamott commented: “What’s a god to do?”)

During a writing retreat in a friend’s two-room cabin—so remote I could skinny dip al fresco—I spent two weeks with no TV, no phone, no internet/email, rolling in words. Various sections of my novel covered the dining table, the couch, the floor. It came to life and I began to see that it was good. Above the kitchen sink in the main room was a wooden plaque: “Trust the Process.” In that two weeks I came to grok the full meaning of that statement (so common it’s become psychobabble). Now, three years later, I know that my job is to trust the process of writing. That an outline would kill my creativity. (I once knew a writer who mapped out her plots, putting them on pages she taped to a nine-foot wall, floor to ceiling; she wrote by that map, seldom deviating from the outline. The product was wooden, event-driven, almost indigestible. When she gave up the outline, her writing soared.)

So I’m into my second novel, pregnant again, with a mandatory gestation period of no more than two years (yikes! the first one took eighteen). But what I’ve learned in all that time has my fingers flying on the keyboard; I’m a mature, confident writer, filled with joy that my life has become what I’ve longed for it to be: I make my living writing and teaching writing. Amazing!

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