Monday, August 9, 2010

Waiting to Exhale

The hardest thing, maybe, about my new, more intense writing schedule these days is having to go ahead on book three before I have ANY feedback at all on book two. I delivered the manscript of book two to my writing group last week, but I don't expect to get comments from anybody until our retreat, the end of the month, and I won't send it to my editor for her comments until after I revise it from their comments, and so I won't get comments from her until well after the due date for the third book.

So of course I keep tormenting myself with questions: But what if everybody HATES book two? What if I'm on the completely wrong track with this series? And now I'm going even farther down that wrong track? Past the point of NO RETURN?

I see this soul-sapping self-doubt in our philosophy graduate students all the time, when they are writing their dissertations. They'll give a chapter to their faculty advisor, who may take a month or longer to read it, and during that month, instead of plunging ahead on the next chapter, they sit paralyzed, unable to proceed until they receive some kind of blessing on the previous chapter. This is why it takes people forever to write a dissertation.

I don't have the luxury of paralysis this time around. I simply have to write book three without any official blessing yet conferred upon book two. This is a hard thing, but it is also a good thing. It means I have to answer my own questions, posed to myself above, in this way:

Look, it is exceedingly unlikely that everybody will hate book two, given that everybody loved book one. It's exceedingly unlikely that I am completely on the wrong track with this book. Both are possible, yes, but, again, exceedingly unlikely. And I know from experience how easy it is to fix even major problems with a book. There will be problems with book two - probably major ones. But I will be able to fix them. And how much better it will be to be fixing them with book three already in good shape, rather than not yet even begun.

Yes, it is so much better just to keep writing, in faith that the blessing, although not here yet, is on its way. One way or another, sooner or later, the blessing is always on its way.

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