Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The business of writing, or why Amelia Earhart picked the two hardest professions.

Now to the business of writing. I was five when the brainstorm struck me, I'd write a book. My first opus concerned a flying horse named Pegasus. It was short, sweet and to the point. My parents kept it forever and now I am in possession. Perhaps I should have learned something from it other than the love of putting words to paper. I didn't. I kept on writing, first poetry, then prose. I've been doing that for years and years and years. There's nothing as fine as when a sentence comes together. And nothing as remarkable as the moment when a character takes shape. At least not for me.

On to the novel, next week I will get yet another chance to hear how to refine it. I have worked on this novel for almost four years. Short by some standards, long by others. For me, a lifetime has passed while I've gone back and back and back to find Amelia. I've lost my mother. I've grieved for my father. I've watched my older child grow up and leave home. I've gotten older and perhaps a bit wiser. I've traveled a little, and published a little, and worked a whole lot. I've watched our country sink into recession, and crawl out. I've seen a black man elected president. Okay, I'll stop right there ...

Next week I get to hear another response, this time in conference. I get to sit down in a room and have notes given and take them and do my best. And once that's done, which will take a little while, the book will go out. I hope it will get published then, but who knows? I'm curious to find out what I need to do to make it better, and I'm relieved that I don't have to go through the gut wrenching end of the process when it's do or die with the shorter and shorter list of editors who buy fiction quite yet.
Still, back to reinventing the wheel one last time. This time I hope it's small changes not big. I think I've done a lot and I hope it's close to having done enough.
But who can really say?

Writing is something you can't do without, it's what shapes my day and shapes my life. As does Amelia. I think of how she likely died, waiting for rescue, trying to stay alive for as long as she could. And I think of how she lived, trying to do what was hardest. I admire her immensely. It was, by any one's standards, a life worth living.


  1. I'm not familiar with the book publishing process. Who is the conference with? What's the note-taking about? After the conference, the book goes out where?

  2. My agent, an assistant who she trusts and me in the conference. After I make the changes the book goes out to editors. Then I learn how to pray.

  3. Start with, "My publisher, who art in _____ (fill in the blank), what the heck be thy name ...."