And then sometimes…
You have a book due in a week, and you are going around and around in circles, trying to Figure. It.Out. And it just isn’t happening and the stupid characters are saying the same things over and over, and you can’t get yourself to cry or laugh, and so instead you just keep copyediting the same thirty pages, over and over, and it isn’t fun at all, and they suck they suck they suck and you don’t know what to do, so you call your agent and she says good things that should totally help but don’t quite, and then you send it to a friend who says it is GREAT, but you know better. YOU KNOW BETTER.
And so you take a deep breath. And you think about the things your agent said and you ignore the things your friend said, and you start over on page one again. Because maybe this time you’ll get it. But probably not because you only have three hours a day to work and the kids are home from school on Friday this week for a holiday nobody cares about anyway and the laundry is piling up and you don’t know why you do this to yourself because REALLY WHAT IS THE GODDAMN POINT?
When it will never be as good as Over Sea Under Stone. Or The Westing Game. Or Harriet the Spy. Or Jacob Have I Loved. Or Stranger with my Face. Or stupid Harry Potter. Or about forty thousand other awesome books you’d rather be reading than WRITING THIS TRIPE.
So you step away.
You step away.
And maybe you take a slug of something.
And maybe you eat an entire bag of chocolate covered pretzels.
And maybe you post to Facebook twice and to Twitter fourteen times.
And then maybe you blog a post like this one. Because it only seems fair that if people are going to cheer you on when you’re having a good day… they should know how absolutely terrible and awful it can feel to pour a year of your life into a book that might absolutely FAIL.
It happens. It does. People write terrible horrible failures. They do. And in theory they survive the experience.
Though it doesn’t feel like you’ll survive this one.
ANd yet still, feeling that way, with the taste of bourbon and chocolate and self-loathing on your tongue, you hope. You pray. You kiss your kids and brush your teeth and stare at your aging face in the mirror and then you go to sleep wrestling, puzzling, talking to your stupid characters, trying to figure the damn thing out.
You fall asleep turning it over turning it over turning it over, with your fingers crossed.
WITH YOUR FINGERS CROSSED UNDER YOUR PILLOW.
Because at thirty eight you still believe in things like that.
Since you are, after all, a children’s author.