30-day mind shred
Why am I telling you this? Because there is something about having a blog that makes you have these delusions that EVERYONE CARES when your average weekly posting rate drops by 0.7 one month, and so it makes me feel better to alert the Googlebot and whoever else might notice that if I seem to be updating less, it’s only temporary.
Now, someone might be wondering the same thing an acquaintance did the other day when she asked, “How is it possible that you could still be working on book edits? From your blog it seems like you can occasionally put together a coherent sentence, so how could it take you five years, three rewrites, and ten trillion rounds of soul-crushing feedback to get this thing right?” (paraphrasing).
I have spent many a moon asking myself the same question, and here is a list of possible answers:
- I’m writing a memoir in the classic sense of the word. These days “memoir” is often applied to books that are basically collections of essays that are loosely in chronological order. There’s nothing wrong with that — some of my favorite reads fall into that category — but that’s not what I’m doing here. My book has a clear story arc, which makes it more difficult to put together because I have to factor in plot considerations in addition everything else.
- It’s a tough story to tell in an interesting way. I didn’t live through a natural disaster or escape a prison camp or spend a romantic summer in Tuscany. My conversion took place in the suburbs — not exactly a hotbed of thrilling moments. On top of that, I necessarily have to verge into a few unpopular subjects. It’s a lot of work to make it a compelling, fun read while also sticking to the truth. It’s possible, but very hard. It requires a level of writing that I wasn’t even capable of a few years ago.
- It takes years to learn how to write a good book. I have a lot of experience writing essays, but writing a book requires a much broader set of skills. It’s like the difference between being able to write good songs on your guitar versus being able to write good songs for a symphony orchestra: creating a symphony requires that you think of a dozen different things at once, all of which need to come together in harmony. It takes time to build that skill set.
- I’m an idiot.
- I have died and gone to Purgatory, and this Sisyphean Wheel of Book Writing is God’s way of purging me of my remaining shreds of pride.
My guess is “all of the above.”
I had to laugh (read: wept bitter, bitter tears) when I saw that blogger/author friends get to take vacations after working on their books. Sheesh, this is my vacation. I have precious little free time right now, and it’s all going to finishing up this manuscript. (Well, that and sobbing in my bathroom.) And when my writing time is over each day, it’s back to toil and Slip N’ Slides.
But I have to say, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Despite the impression that all the whining and the drama might give you, I’m actually incredibly grateful to be able to do this. Other than hanging out with my family, there’s nothing I’d rather do with my life than this.