I’m used to waiting a long time for pieces I write to see the light of day. I’ve become an expert at slyly stalking editors I’m waiting on and obsessively hitting “refresh” on the day a big piece of mine is slated to go live. Most freelance writers are pros at these things. Trying to short-circuit the waiting game is baked into the job.
You write, and then you wait. Write, wait. Write, wait. Write, wait. It’s the lag time shuffle, and I’ve come to know its rhythm well in the 20 years I’ve been publishing my writing.
I’ve got a new kind of lag time issue now though, and I’m finding it quite challenging—mostly because I didn’t account for it.
In April of last year, my agent sold my proposal for a non-fiction book about living a more honest life to Kensington Books. By May, I was starting to write, and by November, I was mostly finished. I’ve taken the last two months to refine, fact check, and get approvals from people I mention in the book (that’s been fun). Due out in January 2020, it’s called Would I Lie to You? Trying to be Honest in a World That Lies.
Let me try to explain the gist of the book. Basically, I write honestly about the areas of life which are the most difficult to be honest about. Like family. Marriage. Friendship. Intimacy. Jealousy. Parenthood. Shame. Infidelity.
And that’s all in the first chapter. So you could say it’s a lot.
With a topic like honesty, you pretty much have to go all in. Otherwise, why are you writing about it? And my claim—that it’s hollow to lament a dishonest world and our dishonest leaders if we don’t first pay attention to our own honesty choices, because most of us lie with some frequency to others and to ourselves—means very little if I don’t trace my own relationship with honesty.
Though I had some struggles as I wrote—usually because I wasn’t being honest enough—mostly, I let it all just flow. The ideas had been in me for so long that writing was a brilliant release. That said, it was hard work, and required tons of research and thinking and phone calls with people far smarter than me (I spent hours on the phone with professors who study disciplines like moral philosophy, evolutionary psychology, and behavioral economics).
And now, my first draft is ready to turn in to my editor. But here’s the thing: I have an entire year to wait until it’s published. An entire year to ponder and be terrified about how readers will react. An entire year to start creating a buzz to encourage the all-important Amazon pre-order.
Writing the draft wasn’t that scary. The lag time is what’s scary. There is so much time to think now, to second guess if I should really say that. If I should really admit that. If I should really tell that story—the one where I do not come out looking so great.
When the book is about to release this time next year, will I be a huge mass of nerves and anxiety . . . or a writer sure of herself and able to stand behind everything she’s written?
These are the things I’m thinking about now, and I don’t know the effect these thoughts will have on the year ahead. My phrase for 2019 is FOLLOW CURIOSITY. I chose that phrase because I started to get back to the roots of my curiosity in 2018, and I want to continue to follow my curiosity in 2019 and write the pieces it leads me to. I thought about choosing BE BRAVE as my phrase. But it seemed too small, and not active enough. I’d rather follow something than merely withstand something.
I will be writing a lot about my book this year, so stick with me. We’ll ride out the lag time together.