The children use hushed tones when telling friends. "Mom's finishing her book again." Parents look at me, most with surprise, only a few with knowledge that Draft One existed, nevermind needed a major rewrite. One in the latter category quite reasonably asked, "Now what?"
You have probably made a similar list: Writers Group again, edits, query letter to a few Fabulous Agents, wait, pray, rejection, queries, waiting, rejection, pray, maybe get agent, edits, wait, pray, edits, wait, pray, out to editors, wait, pray, maybe more edits, wait, pray, and Muse willing, a book. Then: proofs, calls, on the road, on line, on radio, on and on, and voila, book on shelves.
"That's one book?" she asked. She stared as though a second mouth or third eyeball popped onto my head. "Why?"
While at the moment I claimed literary insanity, two days later I have a better answer:
"Stories... came alive in the telling. Without a human voice to read them aloud, or a pair of wide eyes following them by flashlight beneath a blanket, they had no real existence in our world. They were like seeds in the beak of a bird, waiting to fall to earth, or the notes of a song laid out on a sheet, yearning for an instrument to bring their music into being. They lay dormant, hoping for the chance to emerge. Once someone started to read them, they could begin to change. They could take root in the imagination and transform the reader. Stories wanted to be read, David's mother would whisper. They needed it. It was the reason they forced themselves from their world into ours. They wanted us to give them life."
from John Connelly's "The Book of Lost Things"
Stories do force themselves from their world into ours, demand that writers capture them on a page, that agents read just one more in the search for something real, that editors take a chance one more time, so that readers can curl up with books and complete the process of bringing the stories to life. Writers are not insane at all. We are part of a magic larger than ourselves.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007