Greetings from the land of silicone, movie stars, and train-wreck child actresses (I'm in LA, y'all). Since arriving in the West Coast I've had no time to blog, since I've been zipping between meetings and losing business cards and then GETTING MADE FUN OF FOR LOSING BUSINESS CARDS BY ASHTON KUTCHER. (I love how my first-ever celebrity encounter entails me being a complete stress ball.)
Point is, my gracious friend, sometimes-yoga instructor, Huff Po blogger (check out one of her fab articles here), and fellow YA author REBECCA SERLE volunteered to do a guest post. Earlier last week, Rebecca's debut novel went out on submission, meaning it was sent around to various publishers in order for them to squabble over who gets to publish it. I remember when I was out on submission for Before I Fall, I was convinced that no one was going to buy it, and so terrified I had no choice but to cut my grad school class (Sorry, NYU!) and eat about a pint of ice cream on the couch. Want to know how Rebecca's coping? See below!
So my book is out on submission. People who don’t know too much about publishing get very excited when I tell them this. “It’s out!” They exclaim. “Where can I BUY it?!” Then I have to sit them down and tell them what I tell myself every night in the mirror: We will get there. We are just not there yet.
Here are the facts:
1) I wrote what I think is a good book.
2) I have a great agent.
3) I pace my apartment for hours on end with no real sense of time or space.
Turns out, being on submission is kind of stressful.
I was having lunch with another YA author friend of mine yesterday who had been through this process about a year ago. She told me that she was a total mess but that if she could do it over again, she’d enjoy it. “Enjoy what?” I asked her, my eyes bloodshot from lack of sleep (yes, sometimes the pacing occurs at night). “The anticipating,” she said, “the not knowing.”
Now I love this girl, I really do. I value her as a peer and a critic and a friend and a writer. But I also know her to be someone, like myself, who wants all the facts. Enjoying the not knowing? Come on.
But then she explained more and what she said was that this time, before I have any answers, is one of infinitive possibilities. “Think about it,” she said. “Right now you’re a bestselling author. You’re number one on the Times. You have no information to tell you otherwise.”
“Or to tell me so,” I pointed out. “What, exactly, are we working off here?”
“Nothing,” she said, smiling and going back to her French fries.
Nothing. So often that word is one we avoid. It can be fear inducing. It’s empty, black, barren. It’s unknown and scary. But it’s also new, and, admittedly, full of possibility.
Starting a book is never too easy for me. There are a million things to figure out and explain and catalog. But it’s also my favorite part. When everything is ahead and plot points are endless and absolutely, positively, anything can happen. It’s nothing, but that nothing isn’t empty. That nothing is bubbling over.
There are times in our lives where we are forced to wait, where something that we need in order to move forward we just don’t have yet. But instead of seeing these times as ones in which to shut our eyes and misery our way through, it might not be a bad idea to enjoy them. Am I still pacing my apartment? Absolutely. But I’m also dreaming. Haven’t you heard? I’m a bestselling author.