Stages of development: are we emerging? Established? Experienced or a newbie?
Stages of a project: are we idea brewing? Producing that ugly and euphorically charged first draft? Are we sending manuscripts out to publishers? Awaiting their return? Celebrating, commiserating, picking ourselves off the floor and trying once more?
There are publication stages too: the excitement of acceptance, various editorial stages, the launch stage, the honeymoon stage, the reality stage, the discouragement stage. We pass through confidence and inadequacy like changing socks; daily and with a certain stubborn necessity.
I've been writing and writing for publication for long enough now (it's about 20 years since I first started sending manuscripts off to publishers!) that I know these stages are more important than I first realised. I used to think they were just stepping stones, jumping from one to the other and if I got the order right, I'd be 'successful'.
I look back now and I don't see it that way. No. As writers, these stages shape us.
As we move through them and linger in them, jumping from one to the other becomes less important. Instead, the many and various stages offer space to grow - both as creators and as individuals. These stages shape our work. They shape our 'brand'. They shape the way we tell the stories we tell. But they also shape who we are. They become the platform from where we stand to speak, literally and metaphorically.
I held my very first copy of this book the other day when my author box arrived early. I patted the cover (it is smooth and lovely). I admired once more the beautiful artwork by Heidi Cooper Smith (the end pages are gorgeous). I held all of those strange, mixed up, wonderful new book feelings in my heart and I felt the weight and responsibility of the stages I've been given. But I also felt the joy.
I've got some grand ideas to launch this book, and some small ones. I'm sending out emails to schools and playgroups, spreading the word about my 'Book Launch Tour'. Essentially, I'm building the stage from which this story can be seen and heard. It's exciting. It's scary. It's humbling in a way I haven't experienced before. Maybe it's this story? Maybe it's where I am as an author after 20 years in the game? Or maybe this too is a stage.
If that be true, may my heart be soft and willing enough to learn all that comes my way.
The Other Brother is due for release February 28, 2020.