(Main Theme: “I Should Be Revising,” Act 2: “Procrastination.”)
The publishing journey is full of promises. Promises from your publisher that your book will be published within the next twenty-four months. Promises from your agent that he’ll sell it. Promises from your friends that they’ll read it. Promises from your beta readers that they’ll send you the next chapter soon. And, now that I have reached the top of one proverbial peak, I see that there is another, and another, and countless more mountaintops to scale. It can be scary. It can be overwhelming. It can be easy to say, “I’ve reached this point; it’s too tiring; I give up.”
And that’s what I’ve come to realize about the writing journey. A thousand promises. But first, this:
Writing begins with a promise to yourself.
I have loved putting words to the page since I was in elementary school. And that love has sparked to a fiery passion that powered me through all the late nights at work and drove me straight home to write beneath a Manhattan moon. And now that I’m lucky enough to have official “deadlines,” to have a professional waiting on the other end to read my work, it can feel like magic. “Yes!” I thought at first. “Someone there to hold my hand and pull me forward! Someone to push me when I’m slacking! No more playing around, no more procrastinating!”
If those thoughts had held true, I wouldn’t be writing this right now. *hides*
Even when there’s another person on the other end of the line, even when you have “real,” “concrete” deadlines … some might not make it. That’s why we have publishing nightmares, where readers have to wait years upon years for the next book in the series to come out. And that’s not fair to them, to us, to everyone involved. Most of all, it’s not fair to you.
Saturday night, I went out with friends. I had hotpot. I got home at one o’clock in the morning. And I was up at 7:30 again, revising. And in these quiet moments, when the rising sun casts dusty rays in the winter sky and your smoggy, slumbering city of dreamers is silent … you can feel alone. Those deadlines, those agents, those promises can seem as muted as the morning mist. It is in times like these that I return to the writer I was when I first started out: alone, with no confirmation from any readers or agents that my words were worth something.
And it is at these times that I go back to the start, to the promise that I made myself. That, one day, the world will hold my book in its hands.
And that promise is the only thing that will remain with me through this journey. There will be others, hopefully many other promises along the way, but at the very core of it, writing begins with a promise to yourself.
(Main Theme: “I Should Be Revising,” Act 3: “Frantic Freak-Out.”) (Curtains.)