from manuscript to bookstore -- the publishing process

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Someone commented, after reading this blog, that she didn't think she'd have the patience to be a writer. Yes, this process demands patience, not just to be able to go over the same material again and again, which all writing needs; but to be able to wait for your agent, your editor, your copy editor, your publicist...

But that's not quite the whole picture. This blog started when I turned in the finished ms. of ABSENT FRIENDS. (Or, as you've already seen, the ms. I thought was finished.) Before I was in a position to do that, of course I had to write it. It took me a year and a half to get through that sucker. I've done others that took that long, and one or two that took less. What you're not seeing now, because this is the publication blog on ABSENT FRIENDS, is the beginnings of my next book.

After I finished AF the VERY first time, late last spring, I sent it to my agent, who's always my first reader. While he was reading it and getting his comments together I started the next book, which had been growing in my head from about the 16-month point on AF -- that is, about 2-3 months from the end. It's always like that for me, which is not to say it ever is or should be like that for anyone else. But for me, once I can see the end of one book, which I think means once my subconscious mind has pushed everything into my conscious mind and is, well, empty, my subconscious starts rolling around ideas to give form to issues I'm interested in. Characters start to emerge, and for me, setting, both thematic and physical. So when AF was done, I took a breath and started the next one. I put it aside to do the edits on AF, and now when I go back to it it'll have momentum behind it.

So the need for patience is not as overwhelming as it seems. My schedule, starting maybe a week from now, will be the same as always: writing in the morning, about 4 hours, then email, reading, whatever it takes to keep the career going that isn't actual writing, in the afternoon. I'll get through enough research to feel on a firm footing -- I continue research all the way through the writing process, because I only write about things that interest me, and so I love doing research into them -- and, after cleaning off the bulletin board and filing away all the images, quotes and lists I've lived with for the last year and a half, I'll create a new world and live in that for awhile.

This was a little off-topic, sorry. But it occurred to me that the picture of the publication process that I'm trying to draw here isn't complete unless you see the way it overlaps with the writing process.

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