My Contract With My Book

signatureDear Book,

I love you, I truly do even though I, as of yet, do not know you fully. I love your curves as you move through time, I love your heart as you show me the humanity of the most despicable characters, I love your brain as you teach me about Ancient Rome and the origins of wool.

But we need to talk.

I’ve been through this with some of your siblings before, five of them to be exact, and each of the books that came before you broke my fucking head apart once the honeymoon part of the relationship had ended.

I know you want this to be the whirlwind romance that is needed to write those giddy, mind-blowing scenes that we both sense are coming…but I’m sorry. As an older, wiser, author, I have to insist on some things up front.

1. When I am not working on you, as in not sitting directly at my desk with your Word document open, you are not allowed to gnaw at my brain. When not at my desk I will happily push ideas back and forth with you, or take in landscapes that I drive past and dialogue that I overhear and file them away for you to feast on later. But you do not get to drive my brain while I am off-duty. That is my time. If I want to play video games and drink beer, I will do that and not feel bad about it. You will always be with me, but that does not mean that you get to always haunt me.

Calibration weights

2. You do not get to sit on my shoulders, compressing them with stress, yelling at me that you’re not finished yet and why aren’t you finished yet and you should be finished by now!!!! I have started five books in my life. Do you know how many I have finished? Five.

You will get done. I promise you that. I will work on you until you are done. But you are not allowed to put arbitrary time-frames into my head as to when “done” will be. That’s like trying to predict who will be standing next to me a year from now on the bus. It’s just impossible. You have my vow, though: you are officially a Joseph Devon product. You will get finished. But get off of my fucking shoulders.

3. You will be a good book. I’m not even going to acknowledge your sinkhole of doubt regarding whether people will like you or not. You will be good. You will have the fullest devotion of my talent and head and heart while I am at work on you. Your knots will be unravelled. Your mysteries will be revealed. Your problems will be solved.

And, you know what? I have a new tool that I am ready to acknowledge as a major part of the process now: rewriting. You will remember that I am a rewriting machine. You will not freak out because your first draft is a mess.

Don’t believe me? Here. I can show you the first printed version of Persistent Illusions. I had actually ordered a proof copy already because the process was so close to being finished. See the ending? See there? See how it’s still a clusterfuck of a mess even at that late date? But guess what? I rewrote it. And I rewrote it well. And it is now one of my proudest acheivements and one loved by my readers.

I will not quit on you. I will not let you be second-rate. What I mess up the first time through I will work out with sweat and toil during my rewrites. You will be good.

Those are the rules. That is the deal. You have my all, but you do not get to own me.

Agreed?

Shake on it?

Okay.

Good.

Now let’s get to work…