What Not to Do

This morning, you’ll find me at a desk, smoothing out the first draft of IMAGINARY GIRLS into readable feedback-ready form, my hair braided and my mocha at my side, my hopes really on the line here.

A bad thing to do while getting a first draft ready for the eyes of other human beings whose job it is to give you notes to make it better is to look at what strangers are saying online about your last book. Stupidly did that this morning. Just one glance and saw something that made me cringe. It stung. Ouch. Not a good idea to look at that. Why did I do it!

Remind me not to do that again.

The book I’m writing now feels worlds different from the book that came out this fall—partly because it’s for an older audience, I guess. I remember someone who read both said she knows I loved DANI NOIR and put a lot into it, but she also could see that I was putting my everything in IMAGINARY GIRLS, it was my heart, it was me.

Imagine how difficult it’s going to be when people read IMAGINARY GIRLS then. I can’t even let myself think about it.

Part of being a writer is wanting people to read your work, yes, what’s the point of publication otherwise? But so far what I love the most by far is the process. Those windswept hours writing your pages when only you (and your adorable supportive husband) know about them and you think maybe possibly perhaps it’s going well and the book could turn out to be good.

And when you’re deep into the writing, feeling fine about yourself, feeling like you have potential, feeling okay, it’s not a smart idea to spend a few minutes looking back on the insults. Do. Not. Read. Reviews. Just like when you’re writing you shouldn’t read old rejection letters. Let yourself feel nice for a while, even if it’s fake. Sometimes you need to live in a cloistered fantasy world in order to feel confident enough, gutsy enough, to take creative risks. And I honestly don’t see what’s wrong with that. I’ll come out when I want to… when I’m less fragile… maybe in 2019.

First draft nearing ready, but I haven’t hit Send yet. That will be a whole other dramatic moment I may have to chronicle for your laughing pleasure. I might have to do it with my eyes closed, then run away and hide for a couple weeks.

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