Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Inner Circle

A strange shift occurs when a writer signs her first book contract.

A pre-published writer is treated a bit like a wanna-be. Usually subtly, sometimes overtly.
Many folks are kind and helpful. Some are even interested. But there is a definite feeling of being on the outside and pressing one's nose against the window pane, longing to join the party.

Then the magic moment occurs. The door opens. Inside the lights are a bit blinding, and the music is loud. Laughter and conversation bounce the new author from side to side. Not only is she "in," now she is in demand. Other writers want her to critique manuscripts, judge contests, teach classes, offer endorsements. It could be a heady feeling.

Except for one thing.

Five minutes after signing a book contract, I was the same person I had been five minutes before signing it. The same cranky, self-absorbed, obsessive, giddy, goofy, weary human being. I had no new level of intelligence. No brilliant wisdom imparted from the Orb of Publication.

So what do I make of the strange phenomenon? Why would someone with little interest in my thoughts before the contract, now suddenly find me valuable?

Okay, I understand that having an editor and publishing house believe in me adds some credibility to the stammered declaration, "I, I'm, well, a writer."

But should it?
I know several wonderful, gifted authors whose novels aren't in print yet. They haven't found that perfect match of an editor who loves their style, at a house that has a hole to fill, with a genre that bookstores are clamoring for, in the right time. Or God simply is steering their path the long way around.

And I've read plenty of published books that are poorly-constructed drivel.

It's important for me to remember that truth.

I have a book contract. Praise God. I worked for it, prayed for it, yearned for it, and I'm delighted by it. It's a gift from Him.

But I haven't suddenly become someone worthy of being "inside." In fact, the writer who steps out of the cold weather of seeking publication and inside the ballroom, soon finds there is an inner study where only the REALLY cool folk are invited. And I'm guessing inside that room is a door to the truly exclusive library. It never ends.

C.S. Lewis gives a delicious description of a man corrupted by his longing to join the "inner circle" in the sci-fi novel, THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH. And once "inside," the man compromises almost anything to keep his position.

Lord preserve me from that deception.

I'm not hot stuff.
Not as a writer. Not as a human being.
I'm a mess, only imbued with beauty and purpose because God, for an inexplicable reason, loves me.

That's the only inner circle I need. And we're all in that one together.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Seeing the Finish Line

Today I reached 73,000 words in my manuscript that will be about 80,000 words.
(This is the sequel to THE SECRET LIFE OF BECKY MILLER, which I've been working on since April).

I've been mulling marathon metaphors, and picturing those poor exhausted runners who can barely drag themselves the last few yards. I can relate.

I'm also feeling the way I used to when I took ballet classes. I tended to work full-out at the barre, go for maximum height in every jump, and the longest possible line of every extension. But then after an hour and-a-half of intense work, it would be time for across-the-floor combinations. Huge sweeping movement, enormous traveling jumps. And my legs had become rubber.

So I'm hoping I saved enough energy for the finish line. I'm hoping the story will make sense. I'm hoping that readers will feel that wonderful sense of satisfaction as all the plot threads pull together and the protagonist faces her big crisis.

And I'm thinking that although this finish line matters to me, I'm aiming for a much more exciting finish line.
(See Hebrews 12:1-3) Happy running!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Joining the Blog-olution

I should be working on my current manuscript.
Instead I'm trolling the seas of the internet reading the blogs of friends.
They make me smile.
They inspire me.
So I'm joining the revolution and trying a blog.
Check back for weekly updates.