Friday, January 11, 2008

What not to think about

I’ve gotten this far by trying really hard not to daydream about any kind of success beyond doing the book right. People ask me things like “so you intend to get it published, right?” Or “Remember us when you’re on Oprah.” Or “Have you started looking for an agent yet?” Or “How much money do the film rights go for these days?”

And then I put my ears in my fingers go “Nya! Nya! Nya! Nya! I’m not thinking about that!” No matter how obvious (of course, I want it to be published) I just try to think of nothing except what it will take to get it written.

I’m not trying to climb on a moral high horse about it. I can imagine some writers taking the stance that if one is thinking about publishing that one isn’t really serious about one’s art. Maybe that’s true, but I don’t care. To me it’s about reigning in the OCD. In my previous attempt to write a novel I spent a lot of time fantasizing about the publication and the celebrity that would naturally come, and I could almost convince myself that that kind of daydreaming was almost like planning, which is almost like work which is almost like I was working on my novel, which of course it wasn't. That behavior was one of the reasons I never finished that novel.

As I’ve said several times before, my mantra through this process has been “just add sentences.” If I’m not adding sentences, I’m not doing what’s most important. That goes for thinking in fantastic ways about publication. That goes for thinking in very realistic ways about publication. And it goes for wondering if my writing is serious enough. All of those are distractions that I’m determined not to think about.

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