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What I Learned About Writing This Week…from Getting Published

A few weeks ago, my WILAWritWe exposed to you all my fears about getting edited by a real honest-to-goodness professional editor. I also regaled you with my conclusion that the whole thing was well worth the terror and that it all came out well in the end.

I wrote the above paragraph to remind myself that, indeed, it did turn out all right, and my fears were unjustified.

You see, I’m facing the next step in the process, and it’s got me shakin’ in my knee-high, German-bought boots.

That Next Step’s A Doozy

The final edits are not yet complete; my manuscript is still dripping blood. But that’s a good thing, because every story must bleed before we can call it “done.” That, however, is another story and shall be told another time. (Cookies if you get the reference.)

In the meantime, I must needs multi-task, and the next task on the writerly agenda is the cover art.

Not wanting complete control over the creative process, I enlisted the help of Aaron, Becca, and Carlos and Julie. Together, we decided that the ideal image for the cover would be a scene that takes place in Saltmarch.

Saltmarch, my dear inklings, is where the demons live in the fantasy world I built for Colors of Deception. I won’t say much about it here and now, because I know you don’t want to listen to me talk about a story you haven’t read and cannot yet read. All you need to know is that Saltmarch is a bleak, barren wasteland made of — you guessed it — salt.

The photo you see above is one I took at Turner Falls in Oklahoma last October. The dead trees were perfect, the lighting was perfect, and the little tools in iPhoto were, for once, perfect. When I was done playing with the image, I had myself something that looked sort of like how I picture Saltmarch.

Before the Doozy

But, perfect lighting and tools notwithstanding, that photo is not perfect. It doesn’t truly represent my vision of Saltmarch, and it certainly doesn’t work as a book cover.

And thus came the Time of Brainstorming and the Era of Drawing Board. My team and I deliberated, doubted, and delineated. Eventually, we decided that the place for the perfect shot would be the Great Salt Plains State Park of Oklahoma.

Two days ago, Becca and I made a trip to the salt plains to scout out likely photo locations.

After the Doozy: Terror

It was an adventure, and we found some likely spots, but I won’t regale you with that tale. Right now, the adventure is beside the point. The point, my dear inklings, is that now my worries have set in.

What if it rains the day of our photoshoot?
What if our models cancel?
What if somebody gets sick?
What if we spend 2 1/2 hours getting to the location — and none of the shots are viable?
What if the cover art doesn’t look attractive to any potential readers?
What if the cover art looks back on a Kindle thumbnail?
What if the printing company can’t do a good printing of the image we choose?

These questions boil down to two what-ifs, burnt and sizzling at the bottom of the psychological cookpot:

What if absolutely nothing about this book publication goes the way it should?

What if this book publication doesn’t go at all?

The Doozy in Perspective

After Becca and I got back to Oklahoma City Monday night, I was weary in mind and body. I’d drunk from the creative pool nonstop all day, and the water was getting pretty low, lemme tell ya. I ended my day with a detailed, face-to-face report to Aaron — and then confessed to him everything I was getting so scared of.

He nodded. “That sounds normal.”

I expected him to say that — because I knew it was true. I just needed to hear it from somebody who’s been through it already. Especially at this point, when I’d exhausted my creative resources in one long day, I needed the reassurance of a success story. Aaron reminded me of his own struggles and concerns…and of how everything turned out all right in the end.

Just like it did with my getting edited.

In Colors of Deception, my characters face demons, both literally and metaphorically. I hope that we writers don’t have actual demons plaguing us (now that would make a great story…), but we certainly deal with more than our share of the metaphorical ones.

In our pursuit of the writing life, we will have triumphs and celebrations. We will rejoice with each other again and again. We will flourish and grow in the beauty of the creative life we’re privileged to live.

We’ll have our worries, too. We’ll have our frustrations and our fears. We’ll have those moments (sometimes weeks or months) of doubt. Those times of darkness are terribly difficult to leave behind us.

But we can and will leave them behind: for we are designed to do so, and we have each other, and along with our creativity, we’re gifted with every good resource we need for living out our dreams. We might need time and dedicated effort before we can uncover those resources…but they are there. They’re waiting for us to discover them.

Time, patience, support, and hard work. It boils down to a list no more complex than that.

It pretty much blasts my fears into oblivion. And that’s WILAWriTWe.

What about you?

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