Interview Across a Breakfast Table: Do You Ever Forget What You Wrote?

Share Button

This week in our ongoing series, I ask Jenny about deadlines, and she reminds me of what can happen during the lag time between my last revisions of a picture book manuscript and the date of publication.

Jenny: The publication process for your picture books takes a lot longer than it does for my novels. While you wait on illustrations, do you ever forget what you wrote?

Me: Yes! It doesn’t happen only during that phase of things — there can be some pretty long gaps of waiting for a manuscript to sell, or waiting for an editor to provide revision notes, and a whole lot of forgetting can happen during those periods. But I think it’s especially awkward when I’ve finished my part of a book and then the time comes to promote it and discuss it and some key element in it has slipped my mind.

I’m more prone to this in my nonfiction than in my fiction, because the nonfiction involves a lot of research that may have provided useful background information that does not actually appear in the text, so I haven’t re-read and re-re-re-read that material throughout my drafts and revisions. When I’m talking about the book to readers, librarians, bloggers, other authors, etc., I need to be able to recall that background information, but sometimes it’s just… gone. So then I find myself having to re-research my own book, or at least refresh my memory by revisiting what’s in my files.

Here’s an example: Yesterday, I learned of our alma mater’s 15 Minute History podcast, and the first one I listened to was about Reconstruction — which, as you know, is the subject of The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch, the book of mine that Don Tate is illustrating right now. (Hi, Don!)

dt-20130307-lynch-portrait

As I was listening, I had a moment of panic when I realized I couldn’t, off the top of my head, remember for sure what the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the US Constitution each accomplished — and those are pretty important parts of Reconstruction. The podcast set me straight, but who knows how many such moments I’ll have when publication time comes around?

On the other hand, I’ve been up since 5, and who knows how much of this blog post I’ll remember by lunchtime, so maybe I can’t pin all of this on the lag time between final revisions and publication…

Share Button

2 Responses to “Interview Across a Breakfast Table: Do You Ever Forget What You Wrote?”

  1. […] each other over bran cereal. Today we focus on the final stages of writing a book. I ask him about forgetting what he wrote about and he asks me about the dreaded […]

  2. These are so great. Keep them coming, you two! This forgetting about what I’ve written has been a major fear of mine all along. I’m terribly forgetful anyway, and people are always asking me about the details in my books (already–and they’re not even out yet!). Often I’m not 100% sure I’m remembering them correctly, or worse, I flat out can’t remember them at all. I’m diligent about research, so I know that what makes it into the book is correct, but it doesn’t always stick in my brain–especially if there are numbers involved, even important ones like years! And whatever project I’m immersed in now will likely pop to the surface before the one actually being asked out. It’s hard to get out of the “zone” of the current research and go back to where I was then. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who has trouble with this! :)

Leave a Reply