I Hit Submit and Cried
(Ok. I didn’t actually cry.)
It was 4:30 Tuesday afternoon and a gorgeous spring day in Raleigh. I left the office and headed to BREW, my usual third-place joint.
I opened my computer. Like most, it’s a Mac. Opening a Mac is like a sacred experience; you do it over and over and yet it always feels amazing. Design matters.
I had been writing and editing like a madman the week before. I worked 14-hour days for 5 days in a row. Over the weekend, Ken did some key edits because my grammar and spelling is–well–not all that great. So, folks like Ken rescue me from myself, keep my agent from firing me and my editor from laughing at me.
I dragged my mouse across the screen, and double-clicked the Word doc. (And, for the record, when you write a book, you still have to use Word. It’s terrible.) I added the the document, with it’s 60,000 + words, to my email program and hit “send.”
I felt a sense of relief and terror. I have no clue if I wrote the best book in the world or the worst book ever. My biggest fear is that it is average.
What if the book is average? What if my editor hates it? So, far, I’ve collected feedback and it has been pretty positive.
A few weeks ago, I took my youngest daughter to the library. It is one of her favorite places in the world.
I had printed out the book and was reading through it. She decided to start reading as well. She smiled and started laughing. I thought: “Oh, this is awesome; maybe I’m super funny.”
Who knows? Maybe a million middle schoolers will buy the book and it will help them change the world.
Of course, my hopes were dashed when she said: “Dad, you really got four F’s in 9th grade English?” I did make her laugh, but not because the book was funny. (Honestly, I can’t even…)
The book is not done–not even close. In theory, if it’s not the worst book ever written, my editor will suggest changes. She will rescue my stupidity. Of course, my job is to give her something good to rescue. Hopefully, I’ve done my job.
Now, I get a chance to step back, breathe, and allow the content to have its space. Then, I will tackle the next rewrite.
This June, it will be three years since Jen told me I needed to write a book in the security line at the Miami Airport, it will be two years since I started to talk to literary agents, and it will be eight months since we started to shop the proposal.
I have so much more respect for authors. Writing is like a battle. You battle with time, words, and confidence. You get lost in the process.
But, you also fall in love with writing and all of her challenges, because maybe–just maybe–a few (million) folks will read it, the words will matter, and the world will be better.
I’m clinging to that hope.