By Laura Spinella
Are you a writer who sets goals? I know lots of writers do this: daily word count goals, drop-dead date goals, NaNoWriMo inspirational goals. Right now, I’m more about the let-me-get-to-November-without-my-head-exploding goal. I’m seven weeks out from pub date, and if you’re an author, I don’t need to say any more. But in an effort to fill this box, allow me to elaborate.
A year ago, I had a workable mental plan for the weeks leading up to PERFECT TIMING’S pub date—NOVEMBER 5th. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t a plan. Maybe it was more like…a vision. Yes, that’s what it was, a vision. A place in my mind where book bloggers would seek me out and drive my Penguin publicist nuts in anticipation of my sophomore novel, my inbox so filled with pre-pub requests and kudos that I could barely keep up. Fine. So it wasn’t exactly a vision either—it was, maybe, more like a fantasy. As the months have moved forward, the fantasy has faded. The reality of having to haul ass myself to keep this book afloat has sunk in. Of course, I knew this would be the case. I did as much for BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, and while the book held its own, I wasn’t foolish enough to believe that Oprah or even the local library would come a-callin’, not without some serious effort on my part.
As early as last spring, I had this future requirement, this goal, fixed in my head. It was about that time the novel I’d started writing late last summer took flight. You know how it goes. You knead and knot words, vacillating between love and hate—scraping dead-end ideas and pitching yourself fresh ones. Brand new people arrive, like houseguests on an extended stay, people who, quite frankly, take over your life. Like real houseguests, they also don’t cook or clean. Characters are dropped like confetti into a whirlwind of circumstance, and as the days go by you fear any readable rational outcome will require an MFA (which I don’t have), a hundred years (which I don’t have), and a decoder ring to result in a narrative that resembles a novel. In the meantime, a few million other authors, all of them your closet Facebook friends, publish brilliant books, accepting a flood of adulation with poise and grace.
Suffice it to say it was a long spring and an even longer summer.
Then, around the first of August, I started to hear time tick. That pub date was creeping closer. Yet I couldn’t fathom abandoning my new novel—I love this story way too much. So much so that I couldn’t stop to pay attention to what now seemed like the old novel. I’d go to my little critique group, and they ask for PERFECT TIMING updates. I’d look at them, squirrelly-eyed, and say, “Yeah, I know… that’s coming up soon, isn’t it?” Then I’d hand them the next installment of my shiny new novel, anxious to hear feedback. (Tell me this is not a drug) I wrote harder and raced faster, making August 31st my drop-dead date. Come Hell or high water, on that date, I’d turn my new novel over to my agent.
Well, wouldn’t you know, August 31st was a Saturday. I mean, there’s no sense in emailing your agent on a Saturday. Everybody knows that. So here we are on Friday the 13th— September 13, which might be a fun, fate tempting, sort of day to send a manuscript on its way. But everybody knows people in publishing don’t work on Fridays. What would be the point in sending a manuscript on a Friday? On the other hand, I know none of these excuses will prevent Monday from coming. And I swear, on Monday, it will go. At least I think it will. As far as I know Monday isn’t a national or religious holiday. Realistically, I suspect as soon as it’s gone… out of here… on its way, things will smooth out and find a proper path. I know this because the way I feel about the new book was exactly the way I once felt about a story called PERFECT TIMING.
Laura Spinella is the author of the award-winning novel, BEAUTIFUL DISASTER and the upcoming novel, PERFECT TIMING. Visit her at lauraspinella.net