Along the way, I’ve found myself marking milestones in the publication process in interesting ways.
The first memorable moment was when the book proposal went to auction. An auction means that several publishers are interested–so the literary agent sets a day and time as the deadline for all contract offers. I was so distracted and nervous the day of the auction; I couldn’t hold a thought in my head.
Finally, I gave up. I took my daughter and a few of her friends to Chuck E. Cheese. I fell into this strange zen in the ear-splitting noise as I knitted a basic scarf in one of the uncomfortable parent booths. Needle in the loop, yarn around, pull through, needle in the loop, yarn around, pull through.
When we emerged from the cacophony several hours later, I got “the call.” And it was very good news.
The next year and a half was something of a blur. I fell deep into the world of seventeenth-century France and England–and emerged only to eat, sleep, and (sometimes) bathe. Or at least that’s how it felt.
The days leading up to the delivery of the manuscript were intense beyond belief. They ended with the most beautiful sound: the POP! of a cork on the bottle of wine I had been saving for over a year, just for that very moment. I wrote about that here.
Revisions followed, which were followed by more revisions, which were followed by copyedits and then first pass pages. (First pass pages are what academics usually call “proofs” or “galleys.”)
I’ve spent the last two weeks admiring for the first time my book in print (it’s beautiful). At the same time, I looked for every wart I could find. Every mistake, every typo, every inept turn of words. I raced to the post office yesterday so I could overnight it to my editor. It’s on her desk now…she just emailed to tell me she received it.
It feels incredibly weird to have let the book go. To let it journey on its own through the rest of the publication process. I’ll have another go at it when the finished galleys come it. But, there, the changes will be miniscule–if there are any at all.
I’ve spent the past several hours cleaning up my study. Nearly a hundred library books are loaded in the car to be returned to my university library. Nearly 15 binders with reproductions of 17th century manuscripts and articles have been moved to the shelves in the closet.
Around our house, we call it “double dip feelings.” I felt this wonderful sense of peace and pride as I cleaned up books, notes, drafts, and scribbles that I have been living with for several years. I also felt this sense of strange emptiness. I let the feeling sink in as I marveled at the empty shelves.
Then, quietly and with a strange reverence, I brought out a few new books. Ones that have long been on my “to read” list….ones that I need to write the next book. Better buckle my seatbelt. The ride is getting ready to start. Again.
Fellow writers, how did you feel when your own book grew up and moved out of the house??