I’ve reached something of a milestone today. My next book, The Road to Frogmore, has gone winging off to its production team to be formatted and given a sparkling layout. Although much work lies ahead, in terms of proof-reading, promotion, and marketing, it is now really out of my hands. I’ve finished the manuscript. The editing is done. It’s too late to think about major revisions or the story I didn’t tell. I’ve sent it out into the world to take its chances.
Am I relieved? relaxed? satisfied? Nope, none of those. Someone once told me that there’s a big difference between being an author and being a writer. Sure, I thought -- writers are still involved in the process of creating a book; authors have finished. But that’s not the real difference, because if you’re a writer, you’re never finished.
The real difference is this: an author looks backward at what she has produced and says, “Look what I did! I wrote a book and somebody published it!” A writer looks forward and says, “Where am I going next? What’s the next book going to look like? What kind of research do I need to do? How can I make the next book better? Warm up the keyboard. Here we go again”
That’s where I am at the moment. First thing this morning, I looked back through my files and discovered several projects waiting to for attention.
*There’s a writing contest (sponsored by a men’s magazine, but not “that kind”) challenging writers to tell a whole story in just 79 words. I have an entry sitting here, waiting for a final polish. If I’m going to do it, it needs to be sent off by tomorrow. So that’s first on my list today. After chugging through a 122,000-word manuscript for the past months, this one should be a breeze – or will it? I’ll post the final product sometime, but not until the contest is over, so you’ll have to wonder. Hint: the title is “Nimrod.”
*Several years ago, I wrote a children’s story about the adventures of a lost teddy bear. Knowing me, you might guess that it was based on a true story. I took photos to illustrate it, which are still here, waiting. I even sent out some query letters, but since at the time I knew less than nothing about the art and business of publishing, the lack of response to my query was deafening and devastating. Maybe now I’m better prepared to try again. I at least want to think about it.
*Another folder on my desktop holds the genealogical research I’ve done on my mother’s family. She was the youngest of eight girls in a family not far-removed from pioneer status in the hills of western Pennsylvania. Her father was six years old at the start of the Civil War and died at the beginning of the 20 century, leaving his German immigrant wife to manage the farm and family. Their mother floundered under the need to provide for those girls, and the sisters themselves chose eight very different paths to survival. Their stories are the stuff of novels but they are in danger of being lost through time. With the exception of one male cousin, I am the last surviving member of a generation – the children of the sisters. Moreover, I’m the only one who knew 5 of the 8 sisters and all of their children. If I don’t attempt to tell their stories, no one else will be able to do so.
So warm up the keyboard! Here we go again!