Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Madness in My Methods

by Stephanie Black

I received the edit for Methods of Madness yesterday. It’s both exciting and scary to get to this point in the process—exciting because, wow, it’s almost time for the book to go to press! Scary because, wow, it’s almost time for the book to go to press! We’re getting close to the point where the words on the page will be set in stone—well, typeset in ink, anyway. No more revising. What’s done is done. For someone who loves revision as much as I do, it can be hard to let go of a manuscript. No more tinkering. Put the manuscript down, back away slowly, and no one gets hurt.

Releasing a new book is a huge thrill—and along with that thrill comes a new dose of worry. I’ve discovered that with each new book, though the nature of the anxiety changes slightly, it’s still there. With my first book, I had no track record. Readers had no preconceived ideas or expectations when they picked up The Believer (beyond expectations generated by reviews or personal recommendations). To my delight, people enjoyed the book. So with my second book, I worried about living up to the first book. Would the people who loved The Believer love Fool Me Twice? Fool Me Twice was a very different kind of story, and I worried about disappointing some of my fans. To my relief, FMT was very well received. And now, especially following up on the Whitney Awards, I worry about Methods of Madness living up to FMT. What if someone says, “Well, I really liked her other books, but her new one is kind of a letdown”? Do other authors worry like this? Do they worry even if they’ve published thirty books or made a gazillion dollars? Probably. I think it's just part of being an author.

Author anxieties come out in funny ways. I had a dream last week that an author friend and I were riding in a car (I won’t name her—she might read this blog and then she’ll know my subconscious snatched her and stuck her in my warped dream). She told me something along the lines of Dumbledore had said my work wasn’t as good anymore. I was horrified. Was Dumbledore joking or serious, I wanted to know. Serious, she told me. I was in this absolute daze of horror. Dumbledore thought I’d gone downhill!

Yeah, it’s official: I’ve cracked up.

Anyway, I’d better get to work on that edit. And if you don't like my new book, just use that technique where you hunt for one little thing to compliment and make a big deal out of it, like, "Wowsers, how about that kissing in chapter one?"


At 5/13/2009 1:54 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

You described it so well--the thrill as well as the fright of editing and going to press and worrying about whether THIS book will measure up. Ack! We writers are an odd bunch, for sure.

At 5/13/2009 2:02 PM, Blogger Kimberly said...

While the author may be anxious, the readers are excited. A new book by an author we've previously enjoyed? Pure bliss!

At 5/13/2009 4:25 PM, Blogger LexiconLuvr said...

Not possible. I KNOW I'll enjoy your latest! Simple fact. =]

However, I have to say I appreciate the honesty of this post. As a writer, I'm a neurotic mess all of the time about a variety of things. I can't imagine that pure confidence will just replace that. It makes me love you better to know that you're human like me. =]

At 5/13/2009 4:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its a kissing book? Ewe. I already don't like it as much as FMT.

There's still time. The final edit isn't finished. Take the kissing out of chapter one, sprinkle it vaguely in chapters three through forty three, and in its place have the elderly woman from FMT make a cameo appearance in Methods and kill the two twin FMT sisters. Problem solved. Another Whitney for sure.

At 5/13/2009 5:48 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

I remember when I received the first email from a reviewer who had read an ARC of Abinadi. When she said she loved it, the breath I'd been holding for what seemed over a year, was finally let out!

I know exactly how you feel. I was so overwhelmed that Abinadi won the Whitney award . . . part of it was the higher expectation for my next book. I'll be fretting about Alma the Elder until reviews prove to be good.

If they are good . . .

At 5/14/2009 12:40 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Thanks, Kimberly and LexiconLuvr! You really know how to make an author feel good.

Heather and Annette, you guys are crazy to worry--I KNOW your next books will be stellar! :)

Anon, I like the idea of vague kissing. Maybe just a few soulful looks would do it, or a subtle wink. But I'm not sure the old lady suggestion will work, unless I'm writing a ghost story :)

At 5/14/2009 2:33 PM, Anonymous Chas Hathaway said...

Oh, man. Dissed by Dumbledore. That's pretty rough.


- Chas

At 5/16/2009 1:16 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

You actually put some kissing in your book? *falls off chair* Were you influenced by those of us with an English degree? ;)

I'll definitely be first in line to get this one when it comes out!

At 5/16/2009 4:42 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Chas, yeah, it was a real blow! :)

Julie, it's true--I feel myself slipping over to the dark side. My work-in-progress has kissing too. Ack! You English majors have powers beyond my comprehension. Somebody help me!


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