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  • ellensherman

“Why don’t you write something. Anything. Please!”

Updated: Jun 20, 2022

My new novel, Into the Attic, was accepted for publication by Koehler Books at the end of February, which gave me a huge boost and triggered all kinds of new tasks to help shepherd the work to print. First, my publisher asked me to fill out an extensive Author Questionnaire. It included suggestions for back-cover copy and inspirational ideas for the book-cover designers. That was fun, and other assignments followed. Most important of these was to ensure that my manuscript is in final shape, ready to go when I receive the words, “We’re ready for it.” That summons, I was told, will come at the end of June or in early July.

Of course, I believed the manuscript was in final shape when I submitted it to several publishers at the end of 2021. But looking at it again after the passage of a few months, and with the knowledge that it would soon be professionally laid out and in print, I found stuff. Then I found more stuff. Then a writer-friend of mine suggested a few more things. And do I use the word “grasping” too many times? And are there still too many adjectives? And, lo and behold, does Philip (one of the main characters) say he is from Long Island in Chapter 2, while his wife Caroline mentions that he grew up outside of Boston in Chapter 7?

These days, a lot of the onus to promote books falls on authors themselves, but the rule of thumb for a successful book is that it should be the best you can make it. Of course, I take this seriously. Very seriously. But there comes a time when a book is fully “cooked.” It is done. It is the best you can make it and it is time to let go. For me that time arrived at the end of May, and in the weeks that followed, I began to worry. It’s easy to worry about the news, which has been dire this spring. I also worried whether the beautiful shade tree in our front yard showed evidence of rot? And was the intermittent pain in my right arm a harbinger of bone disease? I was feeling more and more out of sorts.

“This is what happens when you don’t have a writing project going,” my wise – and very experienced with me – husband said. “You always worry when you’re in-between things.

Why don’t you write something. Anything. Please!”

Good advice.

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