Sunday, June 26, 2005

Finishing my Book is my Immediate Threat

I’ve started several books that I’ve yet to finish, but this summer, I set a goal to finish one of three important book projects –“No Immediate Threat: the story of an American Veteran,” and I did. It’s the story of my brother’s life and death.

It’s funny how we build something up in our minds. I always thought if I finally finished a manuscript, I would have some kind of ceremonial ritual, much like the fictitious author, Paul Sheldon, in Stephen King’s “Misery.”

Sheldon would finish his novels in a mountain top resort and upon completing the manuscript, would smoke just one cigarette and have a glass of wine. I didn’t envision myself smoking, but maybe having some kind of celebration. But when I did “complete” the first draft of the manuscript, little did I know the work had only just begun.

The week I finished the manuscript for my book, I had about a day’s worth of jubilation (I still didn’t find a ritual) and then started feeling a bit down. I went to the mailbox and picked up one of my writers magazines and read an article about how writers sometimes feel depressed when they’ve finished a big project, such as a book manuscript.

“Hmm,” I thought, “that must be what is wrong with me.” Well, besides the fact that its summer, and I would rather be spending my days outside playing.

But it is true. I’ve nurtured my baby along since November. Writing, researching, writing more, and editing. And now, all that is left is the editing part, which has been going on for more than a month now. That in itself, has been depressing. I am publishing through ASJA Press and iuniverse, a print on demand book company-in essence, I’m self publishing, so instead of having my agent and publisher hire an editor, I had to hire one myself. She did an edit, but through the process of letting my writer’s group preview the book to give me additional feedback, they’re still finding errors. Little errors, such as writing the word “isle” instead of “aisle” and making Hop-A-Long Cassidy a hyphened word instead of one. And the most humorous: writing the word “close” instead of “clothes” (it must have been really late when I wrote that chapter). But they’re errors just the same and because I am self publishing, I’m responsible for all of the “little” errors and treating them as huge ones, because that’s what my readers will see. And if they’re doubting my ability to use correct grammar, they may doubt my research and then doubt my story.

And I’m starting to wonder, much as Beverly did in “Riding in Cars with Boys:”
When will this job ever end?
The other day, my mother asked me how I was doing on my book. Of course, she understands the importance of this project to me and knows I would not say it lightly, but I told her, “I think I’m starting to get tired of ‘the book.”
After my inner critic is completely satisfied that there is no more editing that can be done, there is picking out photos, getting the manuscript in so the book is published and ready for sale by my book launch party date of November 5, putting together a marketing plan, which includes begging critics to review, and getting fellow journalists to interview me.
With so much to plan, I’m coming out of my end-of-book-writing funk, and I’ve finally decided that this job will never end, there’s just the milestones.
The first official ritual I will celebrate will be at my book launch party, and I plan on having more than one glass of wine.