For the first time in over a year, today’s author interview did not work out as planned. [Collective Gasp!] A jumble of small miscommunications, perhaps. Or maybe one big snafu. Anyway, I was knocked off kilter by the whole thing. I was disappointed more by the fact that the schedule was interrupted (I am a crazy creature of habit) and that the continuity and consistency of Women’s Fiction Writers would be compromised, than that this new-to-me author didn’t answer my interview questions and kept me hanging until, oh, 7pm Wednesday night.
And then I realized that this was just another one of those things. Life is full of them. As is writing. And so my advice to myself was simply: bend.
Bending doesn’t imply weakness, it implies flexibility. I can pop right back to where I started or take on a whole new shape. And this makes me think about my book, THE GLASS WIVES (which had a different title until this perfect one hit me last summer) and how I resisted certain suggestions by my agent Jason Yarn when we’d just stepped off the curb into our agent/author relationship. I soon realized that making those changes didn’t even mean those changes had to stick (but of course they did). I saved all my deleted parts and if version 1 was better than version 7 (which face it, it never is, but work with me here, it’s an example) then it’s my decision which version anyone ever gets to read, especially in those very early stages. What I realized back then with Jason, was that listening — really listening — employed my deepest personal resolve. I had to trust myself enough to let go a little. I had to be flexible enough within the confines of my own personal character — to take suggestions on something as personal as my writing.
I’ve since grown accustom to bending, to shaping and reshaping my manuscript with suggestions from my rock-star, rock-solid editor, Brenda Copeland, even if a few of those suggestions made me think of things I hadn’t before. I resisted the temptation to scream (in my head) ENOUGH!!!! because I knew enough to bend with all my might. I knew full well that the choice was mine. And that’s empowering.
When writing, the suggestion to bend and change our work somewhat may come from outside — but the real work and the real words come from inside. And just like with other things in life, no one really knows how far they can go unless they try. Look at me, I’m writing a blog post at 8pm on a Wednesday night. For little-miss-obsessive-planner over here, this is very bendy. But, I figured that bendability (which doesn’t seem to be a real word — until NOW) has to apply to writing blog posts as well as novels. As well as life in general.
P.S. I do realize I was actually ditched by this author, but we’re not going there. Instead…if you didn’t catch my post on Writer Unboxed on Monday about the great debut author group, Book Pregnant, bend your little finger right here and click!