Today I turned in my manuscript for THE MEPHISTO CLUB. Oh yeah, you’re thinking, Tess just cranked that baby out, kicked it out the door, and now she’s sitting around waiting for the royalty checks to start rolling in.
Here’s what really happened.
I’ve spent the past months obsessing over this mess of a book. I’ve tossed and turned at night, thinking my career was over, because the book wasn’t coming together. I’ve written and re-written some of the sentences five times. And then went back and changed them.
I haven’t changed my shirt. This is true. I’ve worn the same plaid flannel shirt (this is Maine, after all) every day for the last, oh, three months. When I get up in the morning, I’m too distracted to think about what I’m going to wear, so I just reach for the same shirt I wore yesterday.
I think it needs to be washed.
I can’t remember when I last went out for a walk.
I can’t remember why I thought this plot was such a great idea.
I can’t remember when I last called my mom just to say hello.
I have been teetering on what feels like the edge of insanity, because this book has moved into my life and filled every single crevice of free time, has sucked up every ounce of energy. I used to love it, but now I hate it with the passion of a woman who wakes up one morning, looks at the jerk she married, and wonders what the hell she was thinking.
That’s what writing a book is like for me.
But today, it went off to my editor in NYC, and I’ve spent all day obsessing about what I should have changed before it went off. I know it needs one more scene — I just can’t decide what that scene is.
Some writers can pound out a manuscript in a few months and send it off and let it go. I’m not that writer. I fuss and tinker until I lose all perspective and can’t tell if it’s any good.
Editors have told me that that’s what they like about working with me. “Your manuscripts come in so clean and almost ready for the printer,” one of them said. Which makes me wonder if I’m the only writer who’s so damn obsessive compulsive that I can’t bear to let a manuscript leave my hands with even a single misspelling.
But now the book’s off. And guess what?
It’s time to start thinking about the next one.