I've begun the final--I mean final--proofing of my new book, Red Champagne. The cover's a wrap--and a beauty, I think. The book's in the hands of brand new circle of beta readers. I know I've given my best shot and believe that I have something special here.
Do I feel exhilarated? Sure. But my feelings add up to a very mixed bag. You can easily imagine its contents: anxiety, worry, depression, dread. For a passion of so many years becomes a way of life. What do I do, someone might ask. I work, read, live, love...and write Red Champagne.
Now I can say that no longer. Red Champagne joins the ranks of children I have raised and loved. And it must take its chances in the great arena. The mixed bag of emotions results, I think, from my failure to recall my creative process. When I forget that RC is my eighth published book, that I've actually written a good baker's dozen, the butterflies assail me. Where will my next idea come from? How long will it take me to draft it? And so on and so on. Pure silliness rules. I get into a funk and sweat buckets of blues.
Eventually, as now, I begin to recall past attacks of butterflies. Then I recall buying yet another Moleskine notebook, which I begin to fill with notes--not a thought of a deadline in mind. My notes are mainly questions: How about X as a setting? Why X instead of Y? What has happened to my hero since the last entry in the series? In what ways does he need to grow? How will the book end? What hurdles must the hero clear between the beginning and end?
This may go on for weeks or a couple of months. But day by day I'll start to feel my confidence growing again, my sureness that I really do have a new book. The next step is important--and it involves a certain mindlessness:
One day I'll begin to wonder what the new book's opening line might be. I'll fill pages with possibilities. Then one of those will grab me. The next day or the day after, expecting nothing, I'll try my hand at the new book's opening paragraph. I may even go on for a page. Then I'm hooked.
I'll need to focus, once again, on the here and now: the rush of drafting my new book at a preset pace. I'll set a quota to be met daily: no less than 500 words at the start...then more as the book goes along. Once again, I'll need to focus daily on the freedom and joy of first drafting--not the months of work ahead.
So next week I'll buy a new Moleskine and set out with my mixed bag, waving goodbye to my baby, RC. I had a hell of a journey that's left me hungry for the next.