Friday, July 03, 2015

What I've Been Up To

So, I'm writing a book.

Yikes, did I just say that out loud? Can we treat this like that time I cut my own hair and told you about it here but asked you not to mention it to me the next time you saw me in real life? I don't really want to talk about it. But I also don't want to pretend it's not a thing that I'm doing. Because it's a thing that I'm doing.

In fact,  it's so much a thing that I'm doing that I'm almost done doing it. I finished my first draft, beginning, middle, end, on Tuesday, and now I'm editing it. (Editing is hard! I might die!)

It's what I've been up to on Wednesday mornings at the Bean and every single day during nap time. I put Sullivan in his crib, hole up in my bedroom with a coffee and chocolate and Cloud Boat, and write like there's no tomorrow (because what if?). Some days I write so much that my laptop starts smoking! Just kidding, but almost not.

It's this thing I've always, always wanted to do. And, I mean, I've sort of written books before. Like, in elementary school. They were all probably five to ten pages long, but when you're a little kid that's pretty long. When I was in grade one, for example, I wrote a book about a sad girl who had no friends because the girls she knew were all glittery (I don't know) and she wasn't and it ended with her trying to cover herself in glitter and all the glitter falling off and her sitting on the swing set alone watching all the glittery people play together without her. When I was in grade two, I wrote a book about a sad girl who had no friends because she had to change schools and everyone at her new school already had friends. When I was in grade three, I wrote a book about a sad girl who ran away from home because, you guessed it, she had no friends. (Which doesn't make a lot of sense, I guess. I wasn't too concerned about plot holes back then. I just wanted everyone to be sad and lonely and everything to be dramatic and what is more dramatic than running away from home?)

Guess what this book I'm writing now is about? Yep. A sad girl. What is the deal with me, guys? Sadness is just so beautiful. I don't know.

Anyway. It's this thing I've always wanted to do. So, following my short career as a single-minded (unpublished) child author and a twenty year hiatus, I just...starting doing it, I guess.

Actually, no, I owe it to a friend, who probably doesn't want me linking to her sweet blog because she's all secretive and mysterious about her online persona. (Which is fair but too bad because I think you'd really love it.) A few months ago, I hung out with her for the very first time (we had a whole bunch of mutual friends), and I asked her what she liked to do and she said she was writing a book. I was awe-struck. I said, almost exactly, "What! Lucky! Fun! Jealous!"

Because I have a way with words. An important attribute in an author.

She was instantly my hero. Writing a book. Man. I almost clapped for her. It was like if I'd grown up wanting to be an astronaut and then I hung out with someone and they were like, "Yeah, I take bi-weekly trips to the moon for kicks."

I asked her a bunch of questions about her book's genre and plot and characters and how she got started and where it was going to go and who it was for and all that, and I told her how much I'd always wanted to write a book. I said it like I was an old woman who had exactly sixty minutes left to live. Like, "Oh, man, I've always wanted to write a book. I wish I had just done it, you know? And now it's too late, because I've only got sixty minutes left to live and the most I could write in sixty minutes is a blog post."

And then she said, "Well, why don't you write a book?" Because, obviously, I had more than sixty minutes left to live. I know it for a fact, because it's been more than sixty minutes since we had that conversation.

And I looked at her and said, "Well, uh, because..." And I couldn't think of any reason not to. So I went home and started writing a book, and now here I am, editing it.

It's been so much fun. If you've always wanted to write a book, you should just start doing it now. And you should find friends who also are writing books and help them and let them help you back.

I have two writing buddies, and I love them and would not have probably written even five to ten pages without them. (Hey guys. My life would suck without you.)

The other night after I'd written the final sentence of the final chapter, I sent my first draft to Writing Buddy Sarah, who lives in New York (where a large chunk of my book takes place, because of course it does don't be ridiculous), and she rode the train into Manhattan at night and sat in a park and read the whole thing from front to back. It was the coolest; it made me so happy. Even if no publisher or literary agency wants me, at least I can say I have written a book and someone has read it right where it takes place. And she 'got it' and liked it, which was such a bonus that it made me cry.

It might seem silly to a lot of people, but it was a big deal to me. (Thanks again, Sarah.)

And, like I said, now: editing. And then we'll see. I'll probably need one or two more people to read it and tell me if it's awful, and then maybe I'll look for a literary agent (know anybody?) which is strange and exciting. I have very low expectations, and am naturally very pessimistic about the whole thing. But I just want to try. Because sometimes trying is the fun part, and having tried is such a great feeling. Much better than having wished but not tried. I said to Sarah, or Mystery Friend, or both of them, that my goal was, ultimately, to write a book I liked. If someone else liked it, even cooler. And if it got published, that's just beyond anything I'd expect or hope for.

So, already, I'm 'there'. I'm where I wanted to be in the first place and I've still got some energy to expend. I figure now I'll just go as far as I can from here, and then when I feel like I've given it all the time and energy it deserves, I'll step back and see what I've got and hold my hands out in front of me and say, "That's that!"

And then I'll go do something else, or maybe this again! Isn't life nice?