I'm frequently asked, "How's your novel coming along?" In fact, if you're reading this blog, there's a high probability that you've asked me this question at least once. So the first thing I want to say is thank you for asking. Thank you for your caring and interest and support. I really do appreciate it.
The second thing I want to do is explain why I cringe when you ask me this question. Why I become evasive and defensive and try to change the subject. Why, especially if you outright asked the question that's always there in subtext -- "When will it be finished?" -- I might have bitten your head off.
Believe me, nobody is more eager for this novel to be finished than I am. And I know that none of you are trying to put any pressure on me when you ask. But I'm generating more than enough pressure all by myself.
One of the things that's most frustrating about how long it's taking, and I expect one of the reasons that my friends and family are a little confused about how much time has passed, is that I've already finished this novel. Twice. I've written it, and now I'm revising. Shouldn't revision be faster?
And what is revision? What am I still doing to my finished novel that's taking so much more time? I think that's the question most people are really asking when they inquire about my novel with anything beyond the most superficial politeness.
The answers I give in conversation are rarely satisfactory, either to me or to my well-meaning querier. So I thought I would take the time to organize my thoughts and then answer at too great a length in a series of blog posts that you can look forward to in the next couple of weeks.
For today, let's just pretend that the last time you asked, "How's your novel coming along?", I replied, "I'm really glad you asked!"
Good Stuff Out There:
→ Emily St. John Mandel at The Millions analyzes (with graphs!) a title trend that's long bugged me, The ___'s Daughter: "I was curious to see how many of these books there actually are, so I did a search for books with 'The' and 'Daughter' in their titles on Goodreads. Afterward I spent some time copying and pasting all instances of The ___'s Daughter into an Excel spreadsheet. How much time? A lot..."