Last week Thursday, July 16th, wound up being something of a banner day for me, though I hadn’t expected it to be so when I woke up that morning. But that was the day that I got my first galleys/ARCs of The Violinist of Venice, and by that evening I had sent off my second book to my editor.
For those of you who don’t know, galleys or advanced reader copies (ARCs) are pre-copies of a book that are printed in advance of the release date for publicity and promotional purposes. They’re not final – all the changes from first pass pages may not have been incorporated, and the cover design isn’t final – but still, the pages are typeset, the copyright page is there, and it is bound into actual book form. So this was the first time I was able to hold my book in my hands when it actually looked and felt like a book – and it smells like a book, too!
I don’t know if there has ever been a more amazing moment in my life. It didn’t hit me right away, but rather it took a few minutes. I was sitting on the couch with one of the copies, flipping through it, and suddenly I burst into (happy) tears. (My dog was quite concerned). I was holding a book, a real book, full of words that I wrote. It was a book like one you might find in a bookstore, like one of the countless books I’ve read throughout my life, except this was one that I wrote.
It was an incredible, wonderful moment. My fondest hope is that anyone who aspires to write and publish a book will one day experience that moment, because there is nothing else like it. I’m still so excited; even driving home from work today I thought back to the day I started writing Violinist, and felt that wonderful sense of disbelief and happiness and accomplishment all over again.
However, once I managed to pull myself together, I had work to do. I had gotten on quite a revising roll with my second book, which wasn’t due to my editor until the end of August. I didn’t have much more to go, so I had a feeling I could finish it that night, as I wasn’t anticipating needing to make too many changes to the last few chapters.
So I did. I finished the second draft and sent it off to my editor.
Anyone who’s a writer will know that wonderful “I-finished-a-draft” feeling, and this was even better. I had come in ahead of my deadline; I had written a book that I loved and was proud of and had worked so hard on in less time that I had thought I could; and, as you’ll know if you’ve read some of my previous blog posts, this book was a problem child almost from day one and gave me no end of problems. That it had come so far after such a difficult and frustrating start – and that I had come so far as a writer in the process – felt amazing. It still does. I’m still riding the end-of-draft-high.
And even though Violinist isn’t even out yet, I’m already excited for this second book to come out into the world, partially because it was such a struggle at times. The first step, of course, is to see if my editor likes it, but I think she will. Though it’s in a different place and time period than Violinist, it’s somewhat in the same vein. It’s still me. It’s reflective of who I am as a writer and a reader and as a woman, and of my interests. In some ways I think it’s a bit darker than Violinist, and maybe deals with some heavier themes – both of which are things I didn’t plan out ahead of time, but which emerged organically as I was drafting, and then got polished up in revision.
But that’s all I’ll say about book 2 for now.
Almost as soon as I hit “Send”, of course, my brain was asking, What next? And I’m not sure. It’s a wonderful and also slightly scary feeling to know that I can start writing something brand new, something that’s anything I want it to be. And I have plenty of ideas, believe me. I’m not sure yet which one I’ll end up going with. My plan is to give my brain a few weeks to rest and refresh itself – something I’ve found that’s always necessary for me after finishing a draft – and then I’ll see which of the ideas I gravitate towards the most.
And there’s now a copy of a book that I wrote on my desk for if and when I need a little confidence boost, a reminder, a reassurance, or just a visit with old friends.