So, here I am again. In THAT place. I have a book coming out in the fall (OUR DAILY BREAD), and so I’m presently looking at galleys and cover for the Advanced Review Copies that will go out to reviewers. Soon I’ll be involved in the kind of publicity authors are expected to do these days. I’m nervous about that, because I hate all this self-promotion; I know we have to to do it, but it seems so vulgar and ill-mannered somehow. (I know, I sound like my 90-year-old aunt from St. Alban’s.)
But I’m not referring to publicity, I’m referring to starting the next book. Oh, It’s out there all right, and has been for some time. I can feel its wings. It’s like a crow circling way up in the thermals, looking for something shiny.
This is a tricky time for a writer. It’s quite easy to turn away from the crow and focus on the busy-work in front of me. I have research to do for the new book, quite a lot of it. I should be sitting at my desk with a red pen in one hand and a stack of books on my subject at my elbow. I should have my head down. I should focus, but oh, look! A new email from my publisher, from my agent, from my publicist. Yippee. That should take a hour or so to sort out. And, how lovely, here’s a request to write an essay for an anthology coming out in the fall. And besides, don’t I deserve a wee break? After all, I’ve been working on OUR DAILY BREAD for years. Surely I can justify sitting about reading books in the back garden for a few weeks, especially since the flowering cherry’s in bloom and the wrens have returned and are building a nest near the pergola . . . but wait, the dog needs to be walked, and I haven’t done my yoga yet, and another cup of coffee seems so tempting.
You can see how easily it all goes off the rails, can’t you?
And I suppose I could justify a break, but the problem is those wings flapping overhead. The crow wants my attention, and crows, although loyal, are not terribly patient. They think nothing of tapping on your window, or strafing you, or even stealing your favorite pen if you don’t get on with it.
In fact, my crow may decide to do something even more diabolical — he may decide to leave. He may decide to find someone else to flap at, to harry, someone else on whose shoulder to perch. That would break my heart, for even though I balk sometimes, I do love my crow, and I trust him, and as he has been faithful to me over the years, so I must be faithful to him. That’s not always easy to do, especially since as writers we never know if a book will make it all the way from opening paragraph to the reader’s hand. We don’t know, when we write that first sentence, even if the last one will ever be written. Such is the leap of faith we writers taken with every new sentence. But my, how empty the sky would be if I drove the crow off by my indifference.
And so, there’s nothing else to do. I must get to it. But before I do, I realize that in writing this blog, I now know something I didn’t before — that crow — as yet unnamed, is looking not only for me to get my butt back in the writer’s chair, but also for a place on the page. Huh. Seems he wants to be a character in the new book, and who am I to deny him?