I was recently on a flight out to Las Vegas. Yeah, Vegas, baby. Sin City, land of the evil slot machines. Thank God it only took one session to cure me of my urge to gamble. But that's another story.
While on the plane, (Delta, flight something-or-other) I started looking through the Sky magazine they stash in the seat pocket. You know, something to pass the four hours from Atlanta to Vegas. Anyway, I got to the very last page and what do you know, there's an article about writing. The article is called "Writing, a Romance" and it's by author Libba Bray. Ms. Bray writes novels for young adults, including A Great and Terrible Beauty, The Sweet Far Thing, and Going Bovine. In the article, she compares the process of writing and publishing a novel to that of a romance. Very insightful.
For instance, in the early stages, an author is star-struck by how clever and special her new bow, I mean, book, is. The romance blossoms, lasting all the way through the first draft as they see each other every day. "My book is so easy to talk to. I'm seeing my book again tomorrow. I can't wait." *SIGH*
Unfortunately, that first rush of infatuation begins to fade when the revisions start. That time in a romance when you realize you've done everything together and you start repeating yourself. The lines of communication blur and the author begins to see a flaw here and there in her book. Nothing major...yet. But as the months pass, things get pretty rough. Phrases like, "I hate you!" and "I wish I'd never met you" start to crop up more and more when author and book are together. Friends become concerned, wondering if they should step in and stop the word abuse.
By the third draft, the author has become completely disillusioned and just wants the difficult relationship to end. With the encouragement of friends (and her editor), she pulls herself together and breaks it off with the demanding book, realizing that there are definitely other fish in the sea.
Days of copy edits pass--brief exchanges of polite small talk that get further and further apart until the author wakes up one morning and realizes she hasn't seen her book for months. She's finally able to put the whole emotional episode behind her with a feeling that she's come out of it a stronger writer. Even when she runs into her finished book in a book store one day, she's able to smile. She might feel a twinge of excitement at first, a touch of pride that she had something to do with transforming a mild-mannered plot-bunny into such a polished book-about-town. They might even spend a nostalgic afternoon reminiscing about the good times, recalling the creation of funny phrases and plot twists that just fell into place. But both know it's time to move on. He has a date with a reader down the street and she's been seeing a cute plot that kept her up half the night last Wednesday whispering sweet prose in her ear. Ah, L`Amore.
Thank you Libba Bray for giving me a fresh perspective on an author's life. Now if you'll excuse me, I also have a date with this really hot story that has the most gorgeous phrases and cutest metaphors you've ever seen. *SIGH* We were made for each other. Really.