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[THE WRITER'S LIFE] Book Two
Contributor
Written by
Cindy Eastman
March 2017
Writing
Contributor
Written by
Cindy Eastman
March 2017
Writing

If you’re reading this, it is likely you’re a member--or at least a friend--of the She Writes community. You probably know that She Writes is also a publisher, as in She Writes Press,  a division of Sparkpoint Studio. She Writes Press began in 2012 with a handful of book titles and has flourished into an award winning force in hybrid publishing boasting over 100 authors. I am proud to be one of these authors and whenever I can, I like to point it out. Like I just did.

There are other times when I look at the accomplishments of these talented and dedicated women (authors and administrators alike) and think to myself, “How did I get in this club?” The number of words this assembly of women has delivered to the reading public is staggering; the words are strong, inspiring, courageous, intelligent, perceptive and enriching. In my head I’m looking around thinking, “Did anyone see me come in here? Am I in the right place??” Not one person has made me feel this way, of course. The sisterhood of She Writes is solid; everyone is welcome and equally supported. It’s usually just my own wobbly sense of security that makes me feel like an outsider.  But lately there’s this other thing staring down my confidence as a writer: I am late on writing Book Two.

One of my friends emailed me the other day and told me he’s “sweating bullets” over the first paragraph of his second book. He hasn’t even officially launched his first one yet! (It comes out in April.) Our She Writes authors’ communications and social media are packed with the delight and laments of women scurrying through the first drafts, revision and cover choices of their second-plus books. “My editor wants my draft--NOW!” they moan.  It seems like every author I know is hip-deep into his or her next project. Problems with Book Twos are as common to hear about as irritating DMV visits or pesky in-law issues.  It’s exciting to follow and only occasionally do I get one of those little twinges of envy upon reading about the progress of my writer friends. Those twinges are supposed to act like a poke in the shoulder to remind me to get busy on my own goals, but lately, it hasn’t been that simple.

When I published my book, I was on top of the world. I didn’t write the Great American Novel or a brilliant self-help book. I wrote a collection of humorous essays about getting older. In the one awards competition I was a finalist in, the two other books in my category were both bathroom humor books. Both! And one of them took the gold medal. So, I’m not deluding myself that the world will wilt waiting for my Book Two. And honestly, I’m not negatively impacted by the success and productivity of my colleagues, but it is impacting how I feel as a writer. As in, if I’m an author, I should have more than one book. Even Harper Lee has two now.

I published three years ago and I coasted along on the thrill of publication and the resulting events like author’s talks and book signings for about a year or so. I punched up my work ethic to include a commitment to a writing schedule and even ditched my part-time work with my husband . . . with his blessing. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I have blog posts and an updated website and published essays. It was like a workout regimen to strengthen my writing muscles and my discipline for my next book. I knew what I wanted Book Two to be--another collection of essays written about the differences and similarities between life in the US and Italy based on a six-week sabbatical I had planned. In the meantime, several other intriguing ideas popped up and I dutifully followed up on those, too. It is safe to say that there are four actual books in various stages of completion that could end up being Book Two. But the reality is, none of them are ready to pitch or submit.

In my defense (and I realize the only person to whom I have to defend this is me) the last six months of my life have been supremely stressful. The responsibilities of taking care of my family have literally put me between the beginning and end of life: Five days after my daughter gave birth to premature twins my mother died. There has been a lot of travel to Florida and Arizona and many draining decisions to be made. It is exhausting. (I know. I should be writing about it.)

But, who doesn’t this happen to? I’m not the only pebble on the beach (which I didn’t make it to even with all my trips to Florida).  Plus, there really isn’t an official metric for designating one A Writer; we all hold ourselves to our own stringent requirements. To be a writer, one must write--“must write” being the key phrase. I believe I’ve stuck to my commitment of living a writer’s life, if for no other reason than to keep the title of this blog accurate. I am writing, I’m not publishing. A book anyway. Yet. The shininess of being a published author is fleeting and I shouldn’t let outside indicators validate my worth. But I do.

Don’t we all?

 

 

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Comments
  • Stacey Aaronson

    I sincerely appreciated this post, Cindy! I've got my first book about to go to beta readers, hopeful that after that phase my manuscript will be accepted by SWP, but I'm also thinking about book two! Gosh, what we writers go through ... but how wonderful that we have this community of women to share it all with! :)

  • Cindy Eastman Writing

    How nice of you to comment, Donna, thanks! It's ironic, isn't it? For many writers, we write to make sense of our lives, but times of stress in our lives often prevent us from doing so! And yet, we keep plugging away... :) 

    Thank you for your condolences...it has been a sad  and intense time for all of us. Sympathies for your loss, too. 

  • Donna Lawrence Writing

    Thank you for this, Cindy! I too had my first book published, and then life intervened. I am glad to know that I am not the only one who has different book ideas going in different directions. I have started on a book proposal for my second book, and I am getting the focus going now. There is a lot of stress going on, with family and life in general. But I know that doing some writing (or research for the writing) regularly keeps me sane.

    My heartfelt sympathies on the loss of your mother. I know from my own experience how deeply sad and disorienting that can be. 

    Donna