Saturday, June 22, 2013

Without a parachute...

The life of a book is equivalent to a piece of string. How long is the piece of string, you might ask? Well as long as the life of a book.


My first picture book is now out of print. All my other print books are still out there I believe, but I am under no illusion that OOP can strike at any time. When a new book is launched it feels like it is everywhere and then the following month new books are launched and they are everywhere and your book not so much, and the honeymoon can feel, well, over. I am not complaining. I did get the chocolate on the pillow, the romantic pics on the beach, and the late wake up call. So it is rather nice to have reviews still wandering in for a book launched back in March. Thanks to Bookwitch for a nice review of A Winter's Day in 1939 here in the UK. And if you check that book's page on Fishpond NZ there is a great review there too. And I liked this one on Goodreads - short and sweet but quite complimentary really. Each one feels like another lovely surprise chocolate on my pillow.

And in breaking news, it seems a picture book of mine published a few years back may be translated and sold in another country. More news on that when/if it all comes together. Very exciting. I know of other folks whose books have been picked up overseas 5 years after publication. I never give up hope. A short story of mine waited 7 years from acceptance to print. Time becomes Einstein fluid in the publishing world, or perhaps publishing all happens inside the Tardis and who knows what time it is in the world outside. My one regret is that the eternal youth of the space traveller doesn't seem to be applying to me. Anyways... I digress. The answer to how long is the life of a book is patience. My patience has slowly become a well-oiled, efficient little machine: overworked but better at its job than it used to be. It hums along these days, now that I've switched it to the long game setting.

Fellow blogger Maureen Crisp linked to this wonderful piece by Libba Bray; wonderful and somewhat distressing. Ms Bray talks about 'writing despair' - the despair of failing to bend a story to your will and make it work. For all the times we feel this despair and work through it to end up with a story that we are happy with, we know there are no guarantees this will happen next time. We live in fear. We break through and then admonish ourselves for ever thinking we couldn't do it. And then we start all over again. In my writing, like Ms Bray, I am untethered by outlines and structure and Scrivener and rolodexes full of character eye colour, and background, and inside leg measurement. I wing it. Without a parachute. Sometimes this works better than other times. The biggest stumbling block for me is always fear - will I stuff up this great idea. It looks so pretty/smart/elegant in my head but turns in to a hoiked-up fur ball on the page. People who think series or sequels are such a great idea because you already have that world and those characters built be warned - you can no longer bend that world or those wills anew to your own purposes. You made rules last time and now they must be obeyed. And there are expectations. Expectations! If you ever wanted success, know that expectations come with it. And, apparently, fear. The key of course is patience. And I can only hope, for Ms Bray's sake and mine, that the length of the life of the book will be positively influenced by the length of its gestation.

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