I know that you’re SUPPOSED to spend Mother’s Day in bed, being waited on hand and foot, followed by possibly a mani-pedi, or a massage, or maybe being fanned with giant palm fronds by your collective family. For me, it was all about sleeping late, cupcakes for breakfast, and then cleaning out my attic. I know, I know. I’m such a nerd. But I also get SO much pleasure from organizing things, so this was just what I wanted to do with my day.
I have two crawlspaces in my current office for storage, one on each side of the room. They’re under roof space, and they used to be a total mess, until Parker got me to put everything in plastic Rubbermaid tubs and label them. So now it’s a bunch of tubs…and the few things shoved WAY in the back that I didn’t get to when we did that. One reason: bats. Are there bats in my crawlspace? I have never seen a one. But just the THOUGHT of it has been enough to deter me from going back there. Yesterday, though, I went for it, flashlight in hand. No bats, but I found something scarier: a bunch of boxes of my old college stories, with comments from my classmates. YIKES!
They were piled up in a cardboard box, buried under a bunch of rejection letters (from Seventeen, and a few other places as well). When I first pulled them out, I was tempted to read over a few, but then I got nervous. Do I REALLY want to go back to my twenty-something self, slaving over a novel that no one ever saw, which was more often than not torn apart in comments by my classmates? Um, not so sure. So I piled them all in a big box and will revisit the issue later. Like, maybe when I’m not staring down a book release and a wee bit of pressure.
I also found a box of old manuscripts, novels I wrote but never could sell. I think every writer has a box like this, or at least a file on the computer. I peered in, saw the one at the top—the first incarnation of Caitlin and Rogerson from Dreamland, when they were part of a bigger story—then slid it shut again. I will definitely get to that. Just, um, not today.
The thing is, I don’t regret having all these misfires. For a while there, in fact, I probably wrote one failed book for every one I sold. But they all counted, in their own way. I learned something from each and every one. Like, say, not starting a book if you really have no idea what will happen, like, at all. Winging it does not work for me: just ask that book at the top of the stack in the box. All I remember about that is sending it to my agent, who called at some point and said, “So I’m on page 250, and, um, nothing’s really happening. Will something happen soon?”
Cringe. That’s even scarier than bats, actually. My agent can be TERRIFYING she’s so honest. But it’s also what makes her so good.
Anyway. It’s my hope that sometime, maybe over the summer, I can go through all this stuff and feel good about it. The good, the bad, the REALLY bad. All those scrawled comments from people I don’t remember, telling me my symbolism is too flagrant, my sentences too long. Ah, college. I miss you sometimes. And yet, not.
Finally, a quick shout out to everyone who entered our Lock and Key contest, which was closed to submissions at midnight, last night. I checked the entries at around 10, with two hours to go. Then, this morning, there were over 50 that came in the two hours before the deadline. Those are my people, the procrastinators. I salute you!