I would say that the main thing that publishing has taught me is how to meet my deadlines and then make a joke about the fact that it’s 4:23 on Saturday where I am and I’ve officially thus missed my deadline for this post.
Missing deadlines is atypical for me — I’m actually the opposite, the virtual equivalent of the kid who sat in the front row and raised her hand before the teacher even finished posing the question, because I always turn things in early. I don’t know if it’s my natural anxiety, my never-easy-to-please parents or simply my over-perfectionism at work, but it’s like something in my mind shifts when I hear a deadline and I automatically log the date as earlier.
This is all a long-winded way of trying to excuse myself for today’s lapse, which I can only explain as the result of having turned my entire life upside down by moving to New York.
I’m not sure I have that much to add to what’s already been written here about lessons gleaned from publishing, especially after Ellen Sussman’s fantastic post (and, as a side note, Bad Girls is perhaps the most consistently pleasing anthology I’ve ever read, and I’m including the one I contributed to in that assessment).
Despite not having much to add, I’d like to add:
Spending nearly a decade in the magazine world (a bulk of them spent in the gossip ghetto of People, Us Weekly, et. al.) before graduating to novels was perhaps the best training I could have. It’s probably akin to enrolling in the army in order to prepare for a rather rigorous spa trip. Which is to say that making it as a freelance journalist required so much persistence, dedication, tenacity and ego-slaying that it’s made any difficulty that’s come my way in my life as a novelist — and there have been a fair share — seem minimal.
Case in point: when my editor first acquired Party Girl and told me she was going to need some changes, I swallowed hard and prepared for what that meant in the magazine world: essentially, a complete overhaul, potentially involving an entire topic change, which would inevitably be followed by her rewriting the entire thing, not showing it to me and then publishing it with my name on it.
Instead, she asked me if I could add a scene where I developed the love interest a bit more.
That isn’t to suggest that my path to publication or from publication to now has been smooth (my publisher was fired in arguably the greatest scandal to hit publishing in years, and because of that, there was no marketing person and a fraction of the publicity team for my release, I went into the Barnes & Nobles in Union Square and was told that they haven’t carried Party Girl since May, when the store’s two copies were sold, and many other moments either too humbling or humiliating to relay here) but just to say that the book publishing world is far kinder than I was led to believe before I got into it. Obviously, it’s got its harsh side (in my perception, it seems like the industry either considers a book a success if it makes some bestseller lists or a failure if it doesn’t) but how could anything that so many people yearn to do not? I love what Ellen said about enjoying the process because the truth is, by getting to publish, we’ve already reaped the reward. Good reviews, the potential to be on bestseller lists, the possibility of our works being made into movies — that’s all just frosting.
And calorie-free frosting at that.
P.S. Sorry for the lateness. I may well start on next month’s post now.