This wasn’t an easy post to write. I’ve sat on it for days, thinking about it, and wondering if I should write about this topic at all. It’s likely (probably) premature for me to even think the way I am, but I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, I’m what I call an “advance worrier.” Meaning, I worry about sh*t in advance, and likely when I shouldn’t. Can’t. Help. It. Blame Mom. Hey, I blame her. Dad never got overly concerned about much, while Mom worries about EVERYTHING. Here’s a snippet of our conversation recently:
Me: Hey, what’re you doing?
Mom: Oh, I just got this disclaimer in the mail from Medicare.
Me: What does it say?
Mom: That my MRI might not be covered.
Me: Mom, we talked about this before, that’s just a standard form letter they send out.
Mom: But they say they might not cover it.
Me: They will.
Mom: I don’t know. I’m going to call them.
Me: Do whatever you need to do for peace of mind. So, what else is going on?
Mom: I think I saw a snake in the yard yesterday. I better not work outside today.
Me: That was yesterday, it’s long gone by now. Go get some fresh air.
Mom: I don’t know. The damn thing could be hiding under a bush somewhere. Waiting.
I think I’m about a 50/50 mix of Mom’s worry and Dad’s non-ruffly nature. Then I get something like what I’m about to say here in my head, and I even worry about my level of…worry. Yeah, worry about worrying. How’s that? Then I feel that I start to sound like Mom.
Anyway. Here’s where my head’s at. There was a slow build up via social media comments and emails which ultimately led to my understanding my debut book is an in-house favorite with my publisher, Kensington. (heart, be still.) This is, in the words of a few, a really good thing and hopefully means the book will also do well once it lands in stores. Like I told my husband, it’s like a gift that keeps on giving.
Meanwhile, for the last several months, I’ve been working on my next project. It’s a good story – if I can do it justice. (worry!) Set in 1940, and told from the perspective of the fourteen year old daughter, Wallis Ann Stamper, it’s about a singing family living in Appalachia who lose their home and all their possessions after a flood. (the flood is based on historic fact) Hunger and cold force them to leave, and try to make a living singing. They eventually join a traveling show, where family bonds are further tested by certain events.
THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, and this current book, working title THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET, are very different, yet I can’t help but worry about comparisons. Stuck in my head is the idea DIXIE DUPREE is of a different caliber because I had years to work on it, tweak it, massage it, fluff it. PERFECT it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the story of BITTERSWEET, but I won’t have the same sort of time to work, tweak, massage, fluff, and so I wonder – is it as good as it can be? I don’t know.
I’ve still got some time here, and my intentions, of course, are to only send my best work – yet, (again) what if? What if it’s not perceived in the same way as DIXIE? No matter the stories being different, it’s about the writing. Right? There are expectations here – from myself, my agent, my editor, the publisher. What if there’s head scratching? Perplexity? DISMAY? Even a bunch of WTF’s? The thought, “how did she write DIXIE DUPREE, then write…this? I don’t even know what…this…is.”
You know what? I hate to disappoint people, that’s what it boils down to. I don’t like folks receiving something from me with a certain level of expectation, only to serve them up a good dose of disappointment. What I want is for there to be the same level of enthusiasm, and excitement, and all that other great stuff – which came rather unexpectedly with DIXIE DUPREE – to happen with this story. All the good things said about my debut have me worrying about the possible expectations with this new work.
Maybe I’m crazy to think this way – you know, before I’m even out of the gate, so to speak. And thus, I begin worry about my worrying. If only my worry quotient was a little more swayed, leaning more to Dad’s way versus Mom’s. More like 80/20.
Pink room? Softy cushy walls? Is that what you’re thinking?