Book activity seems to be moving at a heightened pace, and I must admit I am excited, but at the same time trying not to let myself get too giddy in fear that it will come crashing down again. After all, Keeping Faith has for almost three years done just that. As a crumpled manuscript on my book shelf and a nondescript icon on my laptop, she has kept the faith, most of the time better than I. After months of revisions and rejections, I had my doubts that Patrick, et. al, would ever be running freely on the pages of a real novel. Now it looks like they may not just run, but hopefully jump off the pages into your heart.
After seeing the first draft of the cover design last night and then talking to Chris, my agent, I am back to the way I felt right after I finished writing the book–exuberant, enthusiastic, optimistic, yet decidedly a little more knowledgeable, less naive and somewhat jaded about the whole book publishing process. After all, I was dumb enough not to realize how many times I would have to rewrite, edit, rewrite, edit and rewrite again. I spent the last two days doing just that, and I still worry that after it is all said and done and I hold that sweet book in my hands that there will be a mistake. I can’t help it. I’ve decided I just won’t look, but it will happen. In college, I worked at a newspaper. I saw what can happen to a headline after five people had checked it–the minute it hits the ink it morphs into something alien. Besides some Sodoku puzzle solving type will find something grammatically wrong with Keeping Faith which is why I don’t like grammar. I never really did. It is too much like math for me to like. I remember when I was working on my dissertation and holding my own with any professor,meeting with the “Grammar Gestapo” gave me shivers because no matter how many times I had read that copy she would find a missed comma or a typo faster than a dropped call in an elevator.
Now give me literature and I shine. I love the symbolism (I hope you see it in my novel–it’s everywhere, but I can’t tell you anymore). Throw in those metaphors, personifications, hyperboles and there’s an interesting pot of stew. Those words even sound fun and pretty and welcoming–but grammar–I don’t think so! Now I know this sounds weird and counter to what I just said, but I did like to diagram sentences once in a while. That was okay and seemed like a bit of a game compared to those other grammar drills that most of my stiff, old maid English teachers thought were so useful and worthwhile. Now talk diagramming sentences to anyone under 50 years old and watch the eyes glaze over in confusion. They don’t have a clue!
I shouldn’t be so hard on English teachers because I was once one myself. I trudged through that long semester of grammar each year so I could get to literature–stories of unrequited love and conquests, heroes and heroines, soliloquies and long passages that took a person on a journey they otherwise might never go. But then it was always back to grammar because that is just every day life. So now today I will look at my manuscript one last time—what part of finished, done, complete, final do I not understand?? Why can’t I just put it to bed??? It seems that grammar won’t let you get a handle on those words because after all, grammar like everything else changes and why I ask? Why is it that it was okay not to have a comma with an “and” in words in a series back when I taught English and now it is expected? I guess it really doesn’t matter because I was always conflicted anyway since I had a double major in English and journalism. Those snobbish English people thought journalists a little loose and uncultured because the rules weren’t the same–for grammar or anything else for that matter. And just one more thing and then I will calm down and stop, but I just have to admit that sometimes I fight with that little guy in the computer when he tells me to change a comma to a semi-colon. How does he know anyway? I say he’s wrong; my friends say I’m wrong. I’ll get back to you later. I have some proofing to do!!