Saturday, September 5, 2009

Acts of Faith

A first book is an act of faith. You hope your imagination will bring you some place worth going and that your intuition will not fail you. You dig deeply into your imagination and create characters; you fuss with plot and structure; and you pray. A lot.

But I did not think past my first book; it was all I could handle – creating a manuscript and hoping it would turn into a real book someday. Thinking beyond that was plain hubris.

That kind of thinking. magical thinking, makes sense to me when it comes to the unpredictable and mysterious world of publishing. It’s like women who don’t discuss their pregnancy until after the first trimester (I blabbed immediately) or throwing salt over your shoulder (I can never remember which shoulder). A lot of us are ruled by superstitious half-truths that we don’t buck, lest bad luck befall us.

But magical thinking didn’t serve me well after I got my contract.

Now, I know, it's not kosher to complain about something as remarkable as a contract. Who has that much ego and hubris and looking a gift horse in the mouth? Well, every author who has come across a second book, I believe. But because we, who have a debut novel emerging, are aware of our luck and are grateful for what we have, we don’t discuss our second book struggles. Or at least, not as much as we should.

But I’ve come up with some weapons for attacking the second book blues. Here’s one of my best weapons coping with rising expectations. Elizabeth Gilbert faced much, much higher expectations after publishing the enormously successful Eat, Pray, Love. Here’s what this funny woman had to say about it. I hope it inspires you, like it has me.

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