Hindsight Isn’t 20/20 on a Work in Progress

construction_road_closed1234Hindsight? My launch was less than a month ago. I haven’t looked in the rearview mirror yet because I’m still barreling down the highway. And if that metaphorical highway looks anything like the roads I’ve been traveling in real life this week, there are construction hazards blocking half the lanes.

Back to the metaphor? I guess the construction hazards mean I’m still learning from my launch.

Like: Listen to your GPS system when it says EXIT NOW, IDIOT.

Hindsight, it seems to me, insinuates that I have some regrets about how my debut has gone.

Now I love regret—as a topic. Amelia has lots of regrets in The Black Hour; the protagonist of my next book, though younger, has even more. As much as I would like to say I live without regret, the truth is—well, if it’s my number one theme for two novels so far, what do you think? I don’t live without regret. None of us do.

For instance, I sometimes talk about the five years I didn’t write a thing. Five YEARS. I could write a lot of books in five years. You better believe I regret not writing during that time. But then I wonder which books I would have written, and which book I might have had published first. Would it have been as satisfying a debut for me, personally?

Who knows, right? No one. That’s the bitch with regrets. You’ll never know which side of the fence might have been greener.

With that tough life truism in mind, I’ve been running my launch in a way that I hope heads regrets off at the pass.

Like: Saying yes, even when it makes me nervous.

Like: Reading and learning as much as possible beforehand.

Like: Lining up help from people who know more than I do.

45_a9978bf7bf9075b7df8db36b7ba53353Like: Writing the next book before anything anyone says about my first book (good or bad) burrows into my brain and stops me cold.

So, even though it’s a little early for me to say what I would do differently, I feel pretty good about the way things have gone. I’ve met a lot of great people, gone to great conferences and bookstores, been in some of the media I always wanted to be in.

It’s not done, is the thing. There are a lot more construction delays in my future, because that’s what you get when you’re still building.

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Lori Rader-Day is the author of the mystery THE BLACK HOUR (Seventh Street Books, July 2014). She grew up in central Indiana, but now lives in Chicago with her husband and very spoiled dog.

This article has 13 Comments

  1. Lori, the main thing you did right and should have no regrets about is writing a great debut novel. It looks to me like you are doing a great job (yeah, I know, I’m seeing it from a distance). Can’t wait to read #2!

  2. Aaahh… regrets. Thanks for the thoughtful post. You seemed to have beautifully summed up a conversation I have with myself often. Life without regrets, ha! Does that exist?

  3. What Terry said. Regrets are wonderful fuel for a novel, but they’re best avoided in real life. Looking back on your debut a year from now, I’m sure you’ll have next to none. You did everything right, including (most importantly) writing an amazing novel!

  4. I think that’s a great attitude to have when launching a book: no regrets. What’s the point of holding back, right?

    And you’re right that it feels close to impossible to look back. 100% of my focus these days is forward.

  5. Great post, Lori. It’s one thing to look back and think, What can I do better next time, another thing to pile the regret on ourselves. No use feeling bad about the past. Onward! (I think you did everything right, too.)

  6. I went for long periods without writing as well. It’s tough looking back on that time. I changed the year my novel took place about three times because it was taking so long to write! But it’s hard to regret what it took to get here when you’re happy with the way things turned out. Thanks for the post!

  7. You’re right, Lori – we’ll never know what would have happened under other circumstances, if we’d made different choices, or if we’d done it ‘right.’ What we do know is that your experiences and work have led to a good (should I say great?) debut novel. Your posts here and on Facebook have given us a graduate education in the publishing process.

    Gongratulations on The Black Hour. I’m looking forward to number two!

    All the best.

  8. My post on this topic is similar– I’m not ready to look back yet because I’m staring down the launch date for my paperback release! Glad I’m not the only one who still feels like I’m riding the bumps of being in the middle of it.

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