Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Finish Line

My brother and I have been working for months on a revision of our manuscript for Mr. Joe, which is due to the publisher July 1. Mr. Joe is Joe’s memoir; he’s told me the story during work sessions at coffee houses and our houses, and I’ve been typing it into the computer and making a few adjustments—not so much “writing it” as writing it down. Now we’re approaching the finish line.

It’s becoming real.

Our project was mostly talk for such a long time, and talk is cheap. We had a wonderful time discussing Mr. Joe in the car, in restaurants, and on my brother’s back porch. Won’t it be fun! What stories should we include? How will we promote the book together? We laughed and cried as we talked about publishing Mr. Joe and subsequently appearing on TV talk shows. It was an easy leap.
The finish line can be sobering. I think it’s the responsibility. Yes, this book is going to come out. Our friends and relatives and former co-workers are going to read it. How will they react? Who will come to the signings? Will the book make it? These are familiar questions to a writer, and both Joe and I have asked them.
I can’t speak for my co-author, but for me, approaching the finish line means that I’m tired. I’m tired of sitting in front of this computer, tired of rewriting, tired of pushing myself through the chapters to make my deadline. My body is feeling the long days in this chair. It’s a comfortable seat unless one sits on the edge of it, as I do, for hours at a time. I can’t seem to help it; Joe’s story is good, and I need to make it that good on paper.
When I get near the end—this I know from my first book, It Started with Dracula: The Count, My Mother, and Me—I get restless. I’m so excited about this new book. I want it to be the best it can be. But mostly I just want to be done. I get reckless, too, and that’s a recipe for making mistakes. The last few chapters require a high degree of vigilance, because everything has to come together at the end. The questions raised in the story have to be answered, the conclusion has to be satisfying, and all of it has to work.
In order to do this project justice, I need to be aware that I’m getting tired and anxious and--every now and then--just plain manic. You might understand this from your own experience. There are times we need to be on our toes because we feel that way. When that happens, an extra dose of vigilance will put us across the finish line.
Thanks to my amazing brother, Joseph Barnett, for an amazing story.