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Monday, July 14, 2008

Letters Between Us: a novel 18 years in the making

I'm scared. Truth is I shouldn't be. But I am. Okay, now I've said it. When I received my first round of pdf/galleys of Letters Between Us, I immediately thought maybe I should call my publisher, Susan Bright, and say....what? Say, nevermind, Susan, I don't really want to be a published writer, it was all a mistake, no really, I would much rather be an anguished writer. I would much rather just stay in the the writing closet, writing in my leatherbound lined journals with my name embossed on the spines.

This way I can fully live the meaning of tortured almost writer, but writer nevertheless who suffers for her art. Always wanting and never having. Always near missing never quite landing...there is poetic pathos in that, isn' there? The only reader I had in mind was my children and my children's children. BUT

then I look at the galleys and start to read through, and I see mistakes, some mine, some formatting. And think this isn't bad, this novel. I think, wow this is going to be in actual print, someday. Then I realize not someday, but soon, this fall October 6, 2008. Some students at my university will actually be required to read this novel in a Contemporary Lit course...and the reading public will actually purchase this novel and have opinions about it. Some good, some bad, and then I want to throw up with fear, and excitement, and terror.

Eighteen years ago when I began this work, I did not know how to write, not really. In fact, a friend of mine who wrote romance novels looked at 17 pages of rough draft for it and never really spoke to me again. She never mentioned the work (it was bloody awful, but it was a start) and when I finally called her to ask for the manuscript back, she just couldn't locate it, she apologized and just said she didn't know what had happened to it. Easy, I thought, she threw it in the trash before reading past the first sentence and I don't blame her. I didn't know what I was doing then so in order to improve my writing self, I enrolled back in college and 14 years later I am still in college as an English professor.

Who knew?

What I know now is that I am blessed with a publisher who found the novel worthy. I am blessed with the notion that a reading public might also, even if they don't they have to purchase it to decide . . . and that counts for something (I say this with crossed fingers and that's hard to do while typing, believe me).

1 comment:

  1. A friend just finished Zu's book--and while she read it, I'd get an email every other day or so saying, "I'm on the part where..." or "I can't believe that Belle did that to..." or "I want a dad like Cassie's New Daddy, mine never..."

    and yeah, it wasn't my book, but it was rather incredible to have someone interact with these characters that I've been living with (at an editor's remove) and treat them as if they were real. obviously a compliment to Zu's skill, but also a reminder of what writing can do, can mean, and that it can come from one of "us"--the almost writers ;)

    anyway, I for one can't wait to send you emails saying, "I'm on the part where..." or "I stayed up all night because I couldn't let the characters go..." or even just "damn girl, you're good"

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