Tuesday, September 30, 2008

And so we begin again

The book
Originally uploaded by norvegal

"The only real thing to leave in the world is one's spirit . . . the leavings of me, murking up the atmosphere, smogging the air, sprinkling a sort of mist over things so perhaps they will twinkle a bit."
- M.F.K. Fisher

And so we begin again, as I attempt to sprinkle just a little more mist over things so perhaps they will twinkle a bit.

Books are strange creatures. They begin as an idea in one's mind. If you're lucky, someone agrees that it's a good idea and supports you in turning it into a book. Someone like, say, a publisher.

They give you constraints (writers need deadlines), they help you focus and fine-tune the idea, and then they send you off into your quiet corner to slowly, patiently, painstakingly transform this idea into a manuscript. You may talk to a lot of people, you may read a lot of other people's thoughts on the topic, you may take in a lot of input and information from a variety of sources, but at the end of the day, most of what writing entails is sitting still, staring at a screen, and thinking.

To the casual observer, we're just daydreaming. But in reality our little minds are furiously churning through a swirling mass of thoughts, trying into transform them into something cohesive, clear, and useful to a reader we hope exists. Doubts intrude upon the process with the annoying frequency of telemarketers. We toil for quite a long time in this scary yet exciting place of creation and the unknown. Sometimes we don't even know for sure what this book's title will be, what the book will look like, or how our publisher will choose to market it. We just don't know.

And yet we keep plowing straight ahead, because that's what writers do, holding worry in one hand and faith in the other.

Now the manuscript is in the fine hands of my publisher, where it shall undoubtedly undergo many more transformations over the next eight to ten months before it goes to the printer. And then comes the terrifying and exhilarating moment when a thick FedEx envelope arrives and I know it's all real.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. For now, I thank you for celebrating this small milestone with me.