It’s a strange feeling. I don’t even know what “finished” means. I basically decided that all the threads were connected and there was nothing new I wanted to add, and I could bear it if someone actually read the thing.
I couldn’t tell you at this point how I feel about this book. I feel some sort of attachment to it, I want it to do well in the world and not get too bruised when it inevitably gets hit, but I am not sure how much I believe in it. But the truth is that the more I keep it under wraps, the more I doubt it, and as soon as it gets out there, I start to feel defensive of it. When I think of it as something that’s now independent, on its own feet, I don’t begrudge it so much. The weird little creature that it is.
I’ve been working on it since I was pregnant with my son (he is three now) and parts of it have been brewing for much longer than that. Still, it never feels like enough. I could put a few more years in, easy. But it is time. It will not necessarily become better if I put more time in, probably the opposite is true: it would become even more entangled and confusing than it already is (working on solving that problem now).
Writing a novel is very involved work and requires a lot of dedication and clear-mindedness. My dedication weavers with my children’s moods and my mind is more often than not blurred by lack of sleep and too many disturbances and distractions. Raising a toddler is not work that really goes hand in hand with writing a novel.
I used to believe that women might have an advantageous position in the writing world because they can legitimately take this break from work to raise their children and they can use that time for writing. But raising children is full time work. Not only full time, but all-time, uninterrupted, back-breaking, soul-crushing work. There isn’t much you can do at the same time. Surely, not writing a book. I mean, yes, there are some brilliant people out there who still do it and do it well; I, on the other hand, just seem to be failing at both.
Anyway, a milestone. Now the creature is already tormenting someone else. I’m free! Well, not exactly free, but less burdened: I’m no longer alone with it in the room. I might actually escape this one too!
I thought I’d do something fun today and show you the evolution of my cover art and book titles throughout time. I have talked many times on this blog (a good blogger would now go back through the archives to actually link to said posts, but I, well, you know) about how I enjoy taking breaks from writing to work on cover design.
Creating a cover in Photoshop means using a different part of my brain, a different skill set, having a different level of emotional and mental involvement in the work. I am in a bit of a dark place right now with the book (and it’s not even metaphorical: I am trying to write in a disturbing scene) and I thought I would give myself a moment to breathe and enjoy playing with images instead of words. As a result, I came up with a new cover. It’s the one you see in the beginning of this post. I like it a lot. I think this is probably it. I did, however, use an image that I haven’t purchased yet, because it is possible that I might change my mind again (I have bought in the past images that I never ended up using) so I am waiting it out a little to see how I feel about it in a few months.
And here, for your entertainment, are my attempts at book covers as they happened in time, from ridiculous to horrible to almost passable.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE SPELL OF BLINDNESS COVER (from the earliest to the last):
You can probably tell that my photoshop skills have improved, as have my confidence and my freedom with ideas. With the second book I tried more things, although I have always wanted a typography-based cover. It also looks like I really liked that head contour idea, because I tried a version of that for each book (I’m pretty proud that I drew that profile, I guess). The first cover for Spell uses a photo that I took too. But that was it. Afterwards I started using images taken by photographers better than I will ever be and/or drawn by actual artists. The titles also changed several times for both books. Only two show on the second book, but the first title, which never made it on a cover, was Mutiny of Violets. I still kind of like it.
Well, this was fun, wasn’t it? Now time to get back to the actual writing.
It is good to take a break. And it’s even better (I tell myself) to come back with rejuvenated love for the book you’re writing or any work that you might be doing. Is it that vacations remind one that life is not too bad? That home is actually quite a relaxing, sweet place?
I came back from this week-long Myrtle Beach vacation and I’m feeling like I know what I’m supposed to do, all of a sudden. Like the fog has lifted. I know it will descend again, but I am enjoying this sudden burst of clarity. I am using it to work on the book and actually hope to get some points of messed up plot and development fixed. We’ll see. The truth is that even before the vacation I felt a surge of determination to work harder on this book now that the baby has grown a bit and should allow me some more time off food-and-diaper duty (and now also holding up on his feet a baby who doesn’t yet crawl or walk but badly wants to feel like everyone else around him and see the world from standing-up, because the world does look more manageable when you look at it from that vantage point).
I am still uncertain of what will become of this book even at this point in time when it is basically written and needs only edits. Self-doubt will never stop, and it will very possibly always stand in the way of any sort of success I might dream of when it comes to my writing. Even a nice long vacation would not change that.
Focus. It’s my hope for the new year. It’s an old wish. A long-chased chimera. However, it’s a new year so here is the renewed hope that I’ll suddenly gain unmatched focus and become more productive as a result.
I probably need to learn focus first. Relearn it, better said, because it used to be one of my strengths long, long time ago. I seem to have forgotten it for lack of practice. If only life weren’t this complicated. If only we could just grow, never stagnate, never regress. If only.
I’m hoping this year will be a step ahead. As small as it might be. A small, but jaunty step, I hope. A focused, small but jaunty step ahead.
Copyright 2018 Lori Tiron-Pandit