when i finished reading let’s pretend this never happened about a year ago, one of the things that stood out to me, i mean aside from the fact that it is snort-so-loud-you-disturb-the-guy-in-the-plane-seat-next-to-you funny, is the fact that it took her 11 years to write. eleven! but then again, i suppose i never really stopped to think about how long it should/would/could take to write a novel. i just figured someone had an idea, they say down to write about it, and bam, new york times best-seller.
oh, is that not how it works?
but then one day i started to get into the business of book-writing myself, and about a year later, i am definitely starting to see that whole appeal of the eleven-year plan. and the more unnerving thing is, the closer i get to finishing it, the more appealing the delay becomes. ugh.
and i’ve come up with a few theories on why this might be. i mean, for one, the subject matter is just a wee bit controversial (discussing ex-boyfriends? where’s the discomfort there?). and then there’s the whole insecurity of finally finishing it and not quite knowing what to do next -do i epublish (all signs point to this option), do i try to find myself an actual publisher, or do i print out thousands of copies at kinko’s and hand them out on the street corner in hopes that someone knows someone who knows a guy that could help get me to accomplish my dream of appearing on the today show to discuss my book with the “he-seems-to-be-getting-better-with-age” matt lauer? and another thing, what if i’m living in this alternate reality (i think most days i am) where i think my book is the best thing since sliced bread and people start to read it and think, “this is what she spent nearly two years working on? it isn’t even that good!” or something else that might hurt my feelings and make me want to hole up in my house and watch law & order: svu marathons? and further still, what if one of the exes i
trash (this isn’t that kind of book, i promise) describe in detail and include a thank you note to (keeping full anonymity, duh) sues me for slander or something scary that happens to publications like the national inquirer and ok! magazine all the time? what then? i mean, i think i could find myself a good lawyer, but still, even though i look good in orange, i’m not ready for the slammer. i know, i know, you don’t go to jail for slander, i think you just get slapped with fees up the wazoo. but while i’ve collected a nice little savings account for myself, i am by no means making it rain in the club.
are you a little freaked out knowing this is how my mind works? admit it, a little. and i wouldn’t blame you, i mean try living with these synapses. no wonder i’m exhausted all of the time.
but back to my whole griping about finishing my book.
it’s funny, this whole writing thing in general. it’s a very very fickle sport. sometimes, i struggle just to find the words to compose a daily outfit post. so you can imagine how much harder it is at times to quantify my thoughts for a 200 (give or take) page book. and maybe one of my issues is the fact that i wrote many of its chapters months ago and in revisiting them, i’m constantly looking at ways i can improve them, reword them, revamp them, or just delete them all together. in my search of literary perfection, some days, i want to trash it all and simply start over. but who’s got another two years on their hands to spend inside of starbucks plugging away on their dell computer as they occasionally steal glances at the attractive passersby (that helps the writing process, i promise)? well to be honest, i probably do. but that’s not the point.
the point is that i’m almost done. and that i’ve been told time and time again by really sweet family members and friends (who i obviously pay to dole out compliments) that i am not-so-bad at this writing gig. so i have to believe that maybe just maybe, someone out there in this great abyss will benefit by me finally finishing this baby and putting it out there for public consumption.
on saturday, i met with a friend from high school who has, now ten years later, become one of my favorite people to spend time with (i mentioned him in my post yesterday, and if you’re reading this, S, hi! thanks again for breakfast and for the encouragement). and in our review of our respective life’s happenings over the past eight months, he appropriately inquired as to the status of my book. his question hit me like a sucker punch to the gut. oh yeah, that. “well, it’s getting there,” i responded, as i began to describe all of my fears (as listed above). in a forceful, but loving tone, he cut me off before i had a chance to get too far down my “woe is me” rabbit hole. “stop being so afraid, forget about what anyone else thinks, and just finish it! i know i’m not the only one who is excited to read it.” (paraphrasing here, but you get the point). he went on to offer a bit more congratulatory praise, which for a guy who’s opinion i’ve really come to respect, seemed to carry a bit more weight than just the lauds i regularly receive from mom and dad (love you guys, but you’re supposed to tell me how great i am, i’m your kid). and for that reason, when we parted ways, for the first time in months, i couldn’t wait to get to my lucky round table at the cardiff seaside starbucks to get cracking on putting the finishing touches of my book.
and there i plugged away for a good three hours, until another friend stopped by to visit. and God must have been looking for ways to restore confidence in my writing that day, because as i started to shut down my computer to spend time with J, apparently he was able to sneak in reading a line or two before i closed the file. “so i just manged to catch a sentence that said something about shakira’s ‘hips don’t lie’ and that tells me right there that your book is going to be entertaining.”
to answer your question, yes, my book does in fact include a reference to shakira’s former number one hit about the infallibility of her infamous hips. for what reason, you’ll just have to wait to find out.
but silly as his comment was, it resonated. in his classic J way (sarcastic humor all day, errr day), he was encouraging me to see past my insecurities and fear. he reminded me that at the end of the day, i think all anyone is expecting from me is a piece that reflects what i’ve been through and what i’ve learned in my typical shawna fashion. with lots of pop culture references and side commentary and a SAT word or three thrown in for dramatic effect. people will want to read it because it’s mine. not because it’s perfect or pithy or offers really good advice (more so advice on what not to do in relationships). or because it has a pretty cover (i hope that it does, though, any designers want to help with that?) or because it was free. actually that last reason might be why most people read it. that and/or boredom.
and if they don’t want to read it, then that’s okay, too. because what this whole experience has taught me is that the beauty and fulfillment is found in the process and not in the finished product. i mean, sure, it’s going to feel darn good to finally hold that little bound baby in my hands when all is said and done, but i’ve learned more about myself and who i am both as a writer and as a twenty-something just trying to navigate the love world in the day to day nuances of working on this project than i could have ever imagined when i first set out to make this whole thing a reality two years ago. i’ve also learned that writing books is like a pretty exhausting thing and i have no idea how nicholas sparks pops those things out so quickly. i mean they’re all set in north carolina and basically have the same plot line, but still, every time i turn around, they’re making one of his best-sellers into a movie starring the likes of miley cyrus, rachel mcadams and whatever male has the best abs for the shirtless beach scenes.
but i digress.
bottom line, y’all. the book is on target to be finished by the end of the year. that’s six little months from now. less time than it takes to cook a bun in the oven (a figurative one, not an actual one, i’m pretty sure your bread would burn if you left it in the oven for nine months). a sobering fact, i know. but though the thought of its pending completion is a bit unnerving, it’s also really really REALLY exciting.
in a few months i’m going to get to say, this one time, i wrote a book.
and even if no one reads it when i finally upload it to amazon for free (or a minimal fee) download. that’s a statement that even the harshest critics will never be able to touch.