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I'm working on edits for Help Wanted: One Rooster, a picture book I first wrote in 2012, which got a book deal in 2014, and which was originally supposed to come out around 2018. Now it's coming out in 2021.
I'm still surprised by how long things take in publishing sometimes. Publishing takes time, but also writing a book takes time. You have to give the book the time it needs. And you know what we don't have a lot of right now? Time.
When I wrote Help Wanted: One Rooster, I certainly didn't think it would take more than seven years to figure out. But I'm glad it did. The book it's turning into now is one I couldn't have written in 2012. It's better now, and stronger (and funnier). Sometimes you don't know where revision is going to take you.
As you might know, I took a break from social media this summer. It was mostly to work on the middle grade rewrite that I'm revising right now, but it was also to experiment with what would happen to my brain when I stepped away from the social media machine.
I was spending so much time thinking about what other people were thinking: what they were thinking about everything, and what they were thinking about me. And one thing that happened was that I found it very uncomfortable to have to sit with my work and my words. The constant checking, stepping away from my manuscript, was a quick and comfortable fix for my brain, but it didn't help get my book written. When I had to sit and stare and be still and feel uncomfortable, I wrote more and was inspired more. But it was hard.
There's no rush. I'm as fired up as the next person to be productive and write more and make more books, but it doesn't work on an assigned schedule. Even with deadlines, the book ultimately comes on its own timeline. All you can do is keep at it.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Sometimes it seems like an easy fix is the way to go, but in the long run it's not. There's no need to send a query NOW, to finish your book NOW because 2020 is coming, to write 5,000 words a day because that's a great word count to brag about. The sooner you let yourself sit in the discomfort of not knowing where your story is going and not knowing what the right thing to do is, the better a conduit you are for creative inspiration. I urge you to force yourself to sit quietly and wait for some words. Write them down, then wait some more, without clicking over to see what's happening on the internet (a reminder that I use the Freedom app for this so I don't cheat). Embrace the uncertainty.
Being a writer is about getting comfortable standing on the edge. You don't know where your career is going to take you or even where your story is going to take you. So much of it is about knowing who you are you are you as a person and as a writer. Part of being a writer is about trusting yourself -- trusting that you can do this, trusting that you know what to do. Because you do. You practice and you write and you do this. So step to the edge of the great unknown, and dive in.
You have about a month left to preorder Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Enter Stage Left and get the special preorder present, an annotated copy of the play they put on in the book, The Wizard of Dogz. More information is here.
This book is very silly and draws on all of the plays I was in when I was in school. I really think you'll like it. It's worth getting just for the ridiculous acting teacher.
I'll be at the great Print Bookstore on Sunday, December 8 for their 3rd Annual Children's Holiday Mingle. It's a fun event where a bunch of children's book authors and illustrators hang our to chat with you and sign books. Come say hi and get signed books!
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