16 January 2010

Counting the Minutes

Why is it, the closer you get to realizing a goal, the harder it gets to be patient?

My next short story, “Hoodoo Cupid” will be published by Red Rose Publishing on February 4, and I’m already climbing the walls. The general edits couldn’t get done fast enough. I powered through the line edits in an hour. (Not bragging—the story’s only ten thousand words long.) Where’s the editor’s okay on my okay of the edits? Where’s my excerpt? Where’s my ISBN? I wanna order postcards! Wah!

It’s not like I haven’t been down this road before, and I’ll be going through it all again in a month when my next art book, Fantasy Art Templates, starts its final countdown. But I’m not giving the art book a second’s thought, and the short story due out in May? Faggedaboudit!

Everything is focused on the story I can almost touch. Almost.

Ironically, considering the story is my first contemporary romance, my current situation is a good analogy for sexual tension. The wanting, the impatience, the taunting proximity of something not quite within reach are key ingredients to literary foreplay. Think of Bogart and Bacall in the nightclub scene of The Big Sleep. Physically, they’re close enough to touch, but his professional smarts are telling him he can’t trust her enough. Her secrets mean she can’t trust him either. But they’re so close, close enough to think they might be able to touch someday. They’re ready to explode, but they can’t, so they set off a string of verbal fireworks to let off steam—which only gets them in deeper.

Waiting for publication seldom leads to a clinch with a movie star. It’s more about lining up the tasks so all the promotion gets done in time in a way that serves the release instead of hurting it. If you’re lucky, your spouse or significant other will pick up the tab for a nice dinner or champagne to mark the occasion. But they’re the hero or heroine of a different story. This one’s all about the new publication, and you’re not quite sure you’re going to survive it, though you wouldn’t miss it for the world.

I suspect much of the drama derives from the love affair all writers have with their stories—all their stories. Releasing your book, short story or article into the wild is a lot like introducing a lover to your family. You know the object of your current passion is wonderful, absolutely wonderful, and you want your other loved ones to see your darling in the same rose-tinted light. You’re so invested in the object and the moment, having something go wrong and spoil any part of the occasion is too terrible to contemplate. Even when you know some people will have and insist on expressing their (totally irrational) less than favorable opinions, you strive to make everything perfect, because to do otherwise will mean failing not only yourself but also the one you love.

It’s a little insane. Rationally, I know nobody ever died because the promotional postcards went out a day late. The worst that can happen (a snarky review, for example) really isn’t really that bad. But in a warped way, it’s fun. It’s got all of the thrills, the hormone highs and adrenaline rush of a torrid affair, and you can do it several times a year without anyone calling in the lawyers.

Is it any wonder why I love my job?

Jean Marie Ward
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