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Waning Gibbous Moon

Today was one of those far-too-reflective Marketing Mondays (read “full of artistic angst”) wherein I tend to over-think, over-analyze, doubt, question and distrust — everything. Tends to suck the fun right out of those once in a lifetime, never-come-again-moments like approving the almost probably final FINAL version of the cover art, and seeing my very first reader review.

If it weren’t for Alex Carr, intrepid editor, master multi-tasker and tireless author wrangler, I might have missed the joy in it all.

I spent the first half of the day plodding through my task list but I wasn’t getting much of anything accomplished. I realized about two hours in that I was resenting the whole process – what I really wanted to to do was write, and my marketing efforts were keeping me from feeding my muse. Finally I decided WTF, and gave myself permission to abandon the Marketing Monday ritual in favor of the creative flow. Except that the creative flow wasn’t flowing. It wasn’t even trickling. Not even a drop. By noon I had managed to actually edit the total word count on my WIP DOWN by almost 500 and had added exactly ZERO. Sigh.

An hour later I was fully adrift on  the Sea of Self-Loathing and had begun negotiating with myself – screw the daily word count goal – if you just write 500 words to replace the ones you ditched, you can skip the gym. No wait, even better. You can have the ENTIRE box of salt caramels AND a glass of wine. And if you get to 1000 words, you can have THE WHOLE BOTTLE.

Still nothing. In fact, I actually managed to edit out another sentence. By the time the email (with the little HIGH PRIORITY exclamation point attached) arrived, I was envisioning the end of my not-yet-launched writing career. I was in no state to offer or even formulate a meaningful opinion on anything, least of all something as life-altering as the cover art for my first novel. Still, this is what must be done.

When I first saw the latest revision of the cover design for THE WELL OF TEARS, I expected a completely visceral and reflexive reaction, which is how I tend to respond to pretty much everything. I also tend to trust these initial instinctive responses. I’m a go-with-your-gut kind of girl, and this approach generally leads me down the right path. To my surprise (and utter horror), my internal gut-ometer totally flat lined. I had nothing, and my response was needed by EOD (end of day, for those of you not versed in hip, trendy corp speak).

Fortunately, Alex the Intrepid has always been really good about helping me work through my artistic angst. I have no idea how HE feels about these conversations, but I find them extraordinarily helpful (and often quite humbling). Somehow Alex always manages to talk me off of whatever ledge I’ve leaped out onto without sacrificing too much of my dignity. Frankly, I count myself lucky he still takes my calls. Which brings me to the turning point in my story.

During our chat, somewhere between my fluster over the hair color of the sorceress depicted in the center of the design and my remembering why I so loved the basic design in the first place, Alex reminded me ever so gently that they had made these changes based on my feedback, which in turn reminded me of the many reasons I am so grateful for my publisher. In passing, Alex also mentioned internationally best-selling fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss and the cover design for THE NAME OF THE WIND, which then reminded me of what I had set out to achieve. Cover art issue resolved, pre-publication panic diffused.

But rather than return to the masochistic deconstruction of my WIP, I pulled up Patrick Rothfuss’ website and began reading excerpts. Which were amazing, by the way, and did absolutely nothing to make me feel better about myself. And then I clicked on his blog.

The most recent post was titled, ironically enough, “Why I Love My Editor”. Reading this post did make me feel better about myself, by and large because Patrick recounted a tale of his own author angst in which his editor Betsy Wollheim was his salvation. Which brings me to the moral of my story.

If an author is truly fortunate, he or she will be blessed with a Champion of the Work who is also a Guardian of the Creative Spirit. In other words, an editor who nurtures, encourages, and genuinely cares about their authors. And if an author should be so very fortunate to receive this rare blessing, he or she should give thanks – often.

All of this has absolutely nothing to do with my accidental discovery of the posting of the very first review of THE WELL OF TEARS. It did, however, allow me to find the mind set I needed to be able to revel in it (thanks, Alex).

If you are so inclined, you can read the review here . I think we’re off to a good start.

Wine, anyone?

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