21 September 2011

So How's That Book Coming Along?

Image: Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Sometimes it seems like there is nothing more complicated, drawn-out, fulfilling, frustrating, and bewildering as the (attempted) path to publication. One of the most satisfying thing for a writer is to share the journey with other writers. Perhaps no-one else can understand just what it's like.

That doesn't, however, stop other people in your life from asking about it. With my first completed MS, I was extremely open about it. I told people I was writing a book.

"So how's that book coming along?" they'd ask me, whenever I saw anyone.

"Good, I'm writing lots," I could respond, or, "Nearly done!"

Then I went through edits (or what I thought were edits) and sent it to some people to read. And sadly, some of those people went quiet! (the irony is sort of amusing)

So when people would ask, "what's happening the book?" I could say, "I'm polishing it."

Then I submitted directly to publishers (you can do that here in NZ), and told people about it. I collected rejections.

Next I researched the international market, and discovered agents, querying, publishing blogs (I became a Miss Snark devotee). I poured myself into the process. When people asked me about the book, I'd try to explain how it works, and they'd assume I could just sign up with an agency (a bit like how you can sign up for a talent agency). Then I'd have to let them know that, actually, my work had to be good enough and, as of yet, it hadn't passed muster.

These enquiries, while well-meaning, tend to become tedious and sometimes downright depressing. With my current WIP, I've only told close family members, and those who happen to google me ;-) I don't really want to talk about it in person (unless I have super-dooper good news, of course!). It's like rubbing salt into a wound when I'm trying hard to convince myself there is no wound. If someone asks me what I did on the weekend, I'm no longer going to say, "I was working on my book". And yet I like being open online, as other writers know what this road is like. So there is the potential of "real life people" keeping up with my tumultuous process. At the moment this compromise seems to be working, but at times it feels like a double-life.

How public are you with your writing goals and progress? Do you like to talk about where you're at?


  1. Depends on my mood. Several people in my every day life in real time don't really understand my writing. They just think you write and you're done, and to be fair, at the beginning I thought the same thing. Now a little over two years in I'm starting to understand I was silly to believe that.

    I don't mind saying where I'm at. Right now I'm querying, receiving several rejections, and working on writing something new. Never easy, but I'll keep pushing.

    I'm a new follower! I love your background, the clouds are so cute! I look forward to more posts!

  2. I don't talk much about my writing to friends or family. I will talk if someone asks, but I don't offer it up.

    My hubby (my writing partner) and I talk extensively on the subject, many times a week, so I get all of my ideas and planning talked out.

  3. Jen: It sounds like we're at exactly the same place! I've learned a lot since that first time around as well. I too am perservering through the query process while starting on new work.

    The clouds are actually a Blogger background - I thought it was appropriate given that's where my head is most of the time!

    I'm about to go and follow your site too :-)

    Loree: You're lucky to have your husband as a writing partner! It sounds like your approach with other real life people is the similar to mine.

    Thanks to you both for commenting.

  4. I don't really say much about writing unless it comes up in the conversation. I suppose I'm lucky as people don't pepper me with questions--usually it's the ones who I have a passing acquaintance with that want to strike up a conversation and don't know how to, so I get, "How's the novel coming?" I just respond, "It's fine, thanks." Sometimes I elaborate more, sometimes not. For the most part, people respect my space. Which is a good thing!