The timeline of writing my book:
July 2009- May 2011: Wrote what I thought was my book (but what was actually just a shitty first draft).
May 2011- October 2011: Wasted a lot of time editing passages I would end up deleting (“polishing doorknobs to empty rooms,” as one writer calls it).
October 2011– January 2012: Embarrassed myself by querying agents with shitty first draft.
January 2012– December 2012: Forgot about my book. Left the manuscript under my bed for cats to chew up. Got a day job. Blogged more.
December 2012: E-mailed Nic, a blogger my age who was also writing a book, to ask if he wanted to be critique partners. Held my breath, clutched my boobs, and pressed send. He said yes!
January 2013– May 2013: Exchanged weekly chapter critiques with Nic. Completed first revision of my book this way.
Memorial Day 2013: Got to meet Nic while in New York. Got drunk and ate cheesecake and talked about writing for four hours.
Memorial Day 2013– present: RE-REVISING THIS BOOK HAS EFFECTIVELY TAKEN OVER EVERY WAKING HOUR OF MY LIFE.
Meeting Nic was a huge turning point for me. I got super emotional after he dropped me off that night, and not just because I was drunk and full of cheesecake.
It seems unbelievable, but in 26.75 years of my life, Memorial Day was the first time I got to have a real conversation about writing with somebody who gets it. Friends and family have always been supportive, of course. They read my blog and ask about my book and listen as I explain agents and suggest that I self-publish because that one self-published book was successful that one time.
But Nic and I got to talk about memory and fear and the line between truth and fiction. We got to talk about the memoirs that were our gateway into this world and how we realized our calling. We talked about the experience of being fully exposed and what it will feel like if our ex-boyfriends read our books. We talked about what it’s like to be re-living the past all the time when nobody else is.
I hadn’t realized that connecting with a like-minded writer had been the missing piece all along. Writing is such a solitary pleasure. It adds up to a lot of time spent in one’s own brain. I wasn’t aware of the toll it had taken on me to have to experience/enjoy/obsess over my favorite thing all by myself.
And now that I don’t feel alone in it anymore, I am overflowing with writerly momentum. We both are. We are hard at work re-revising, with hopes of re-querying within the next few months.
My doodles from our last two phone conversations are accurately indicative of my excitement:
(Sidenote: I feel the need to point out that Nic is gay, which I only feel the need to point out because when I told a co-worker about our critiques, his first reaction was: “Sounds like an affair waiting to happen!” I thought that was a strange response. Now I’m always paranoid that people will think I’m having an affair. I’m not. Carry on).