Things I learned this week #4
I know it should be the rule that as soon as you get a publishing contract all the anxieties of writing evaporate. But it just isn't so. I sent the last draft to my editor 17 days and 5 hours ago (not that I'm counting) and since then I've felt myself sinking into a bit of a malaise. To try and stay focused I've dabbled with a rough edit of a book trailer; I've poked here and there at my map, hell, I've even made a new test book cover all in the vain attempt to keep the momentum alive. But slowly, slowly, the fears creep back.
What if the book doesn't sell? What if my publisher realises the book is terrible and dissolves my contract? What if they decide the publishing industry is failed and they close down business all together?
And around and around it goes.
So that brings me to perhaps my all time favorite childhood movie. Up there with Flash (ahhh ahhhh) Gordon, The Last Starfighter and the Princess Bride. And that is, of course, the Neverending Story.
So just what was neverending about it, some may well ask? I think it should be obvious by now. Despair is the never-ending threat to all protagonists. Once all the dragons are dead and all the evil Witches and Warlocks slain, there will still be the fears inside us. Even an awesome horse and young chosen one can succumb to its clutches right at the peak of their quest -- even right after a montage of adventure and action. That pivotal scene (which is still almost impossible for me to watch as a 30 something adult) is a wonderful bit of narrative foreshadowing. The Swamps of Sadness are in every way a tiny piece of what the threat of The Nothing represents. There are no fire spurts, no lightning sand, not even an ROUS to attack our hero. Just a swamp that will suck you down as soon as it senses that you have doubt in your heart.
I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure the first time I was able to actually watch that scene through to the end, I was yelling at Artax along with Atreyu and Bastian to stay positive.
This is real life though. It's not a story and no amount of shouting makes one iota of difference at 3am in the morning when the windmills of doubt are creaking in my mind.
But then I discovered today what does: Gardening.
I finally pulled myself away from the screen and began to prune the roses. Then I ripped out 6 months of weeds and 2 years worth of overgrown passionfruit. Finally I attacked the massive pile of vines and grass with the lawnmower. Afterwards, all that was left on the lawn was a fine spread of mulch, and all that was left in my heart was the satisfaction of conquest. Fuck you, self doubt.
And sure enough, when I got back inside, there was an email from my editor, telling me the reason this draft was taking so long.
But that is another story.