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sarah · dessen


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Thanks to everyone who left such kind words about the new book cover. For those who asked, it comes out in May 2011, and I have to say, I'm really happy with it. (Although seeing someone's rear end on my desktop/wallpaper/Twitter page on a regular basis is making me more aware of all the potato chips and chocolate I'm eating. Not that I'm STOPPING eating those things. Perish the thought!) Plus, revealing the cover makes the whole thing feel like it's actually happening. The thing is, writing and publishing a book is always a LOONG process (at least for me). I actually started this novel on New Year's Day 2009, if you can believe that. Maybe it was because it was the tenth, or I went all wonky with the plot halfway through and then had to tear a bunch out and rewrite it, but for whatever reason, this one was as doozy. Really, the writing of only two of my ten books would qualify as "not soul-shattering": This Lullaby and Along for the Ride. And do you know why they are the exception? Because I wrote them when no one had any idea I was working on anything, nor expected me to be doing so. With This Lullaby, I'd just pulled a completed novel from my publisher that I wasn't happy with and decided to disappear for awhile. With Along for the Ride, I'd just had my baby and everyone assumed it would be awhile before I got back to work.

Hardest to write besides this one? Just Listen. Oh, dear God. I had SUCH a major breakdown when I finished that book. I couldn't believe I'd spent so long and worked so hard on on something that just....didn't work. At least in my mind. But see, that's what happens when you get too obsessed, too tangled up in a draft. You can't see anything, not even what's in front of you. In the case of Just Listen, I called my parents up in a panic, heart racing, reading to delete the whole thing and go back to waitressing if it meant I could maybe feel normal again. My mother, freaked, said, "Talk to your father!" and put him on the phone. He said, very calmly, "Send it to your agent. See what she thinks before you do anything else." I did, although I was terrified. And she LIKED it. The day she called to tell me so I burst into tears.

The Truth About Forever was a tough one, too. I had another book done I sent to my agent while I was writing it, which she turned down---it happens, they can't all be winners---and so that upped the pressure to the point I could, like, feel it sitting on my chest. Again, it's all in my head. I know that. I also know that to my agent, and my editor, and everyone at my publishing company, my in-process freakouts have become as predictable as Christmas. "Oh, right," I picture them saying in their conference rooms and offices in New York, glancing at the calendar, "it IS about time for Sarah to decide to go back to waitressing again, isn't it?" Sigh.

I guess I can't blame them. Neurosis, especially the kind writers feel mid-draft, is hard to understand unless you're in the thick of it. And while I would LIKE to think that all writers get as crazy as I do, I have a feeling I'm wrong. But my process is...well, my process. I don't have to love it as long as somehow, it works. And ideally, by the time I get to reveal the cover, I've forgotten about that day in late April when I was looking for a paper bag to breathe into because my publisher was planning a big press release and I still had no idea how, exactly, my book was going to end because I was STILL WRITING IT.

Oh, God. Just thinking about that makes me want to wheeze. Maybe it's not so forgotten after all.

I think I should be learning something from this. Like to never talk about writing with anyone, ever. Or maybe to take longer between books so I'm rested and ready. But the truth is, I realized a long time ago that I have absolutely NO control over my writing, how it goes any given day, or week, or in any given book. I can follow the same schedule, sit at the same computer, eat the same two chocolates, every single day, with wildly varying results. And that, my friends, makes me NUTS. It's why I spend so much of the rest of my day organizing drawers, separating my daughter's toys into neatly ordered bins, and obsessively updating my calendar. I need to feel like I'm doing something right, when such a big part of what I do and love is always the big question mark. But I do love it. That's the thing. I love the fun, early days, those first thirty pages, which is like falling in love. I love having this great big secret, good or bad, but all mine. And I love the day when I get to see the finished product and know that despite those paper-bag grabbing moments, somehow, I got where I needed to be. It continually amazes me, even if my publisher and agent are not surprised. Me, though? I'm stunned. Every time.

Anyway. It's the end of the weekend, I have Jane Lynch from Glee hosting SNL on my DVR waiting for me, and steak quesadillas on the dinner menu. Before I go, though, an update on something I wrote about here earlier. Remember how I told you guys about my friend Evan's racecar? He drives Spec E30 class (and no, I'm not sure what that means either, other than he goes FAAAAAAST) and was looking for sponsors. I thought it might be a fun way to promote my books to an audience that might not otherwise find them. Oh, who I am I kidding: would probably NEVER even hear of them. Anyway, in time we hope to have a fan page on Facebook, where I can link to his races, but this weekend, they started stickering the car. It's not done yet, but here's a sneak peek:

Is that not the BEST? It has been suggested to Evan that he MIGHT need to wear a pink racing suit and purple helmet to match. He was not quite convinced. But give me time, give me time...

Have a great night, everyone!
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