When I say “stuff” I don’t mean just any smelly old heap of random debris, of course, I mean WRITING-related stuff. Perhaps you’re a published author who doesn’t lovingly (and perhaps a tad obsessively) save every spicule of physical evidence of your journey toward publication? Dude, don’t even talk to me, I can’t relate. I’ve been saving everything.
The latest item to join my haphazard archive of memorabilia is the scribbled-up set of pages upon which my line edits were delivered by my editor Arthur Levine. They’re more wrinkled up than when I first got them, but the Post-Its are all still in place, and come on, how cool is it to have something like this for a keepsake?
Saving stuff isn’t a new phenomenon, certainly – I’ve got massive heaps of pages, index cards, unreadable notes scrawled on receipts and napkins, books that I ordered and read in a research-driven frenzy, and printouts with comments from critique partners in every nook and cranny of my home. It’s having these souvenirs of the publication process that still feels like a new thing, even though I’m actually not so far away from the first anniversary of my book deal.
I’ve got a lovely “welcome to the family” card from Arthur, and equally lovely “congratulations on your fabulous book deal” cards from my agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, and the EMLA grand Emu herself, Erin Murphy. I even save the envelopes correspondence was sent in, except for the one my line edits were delivered in – a terrible, tragic coffee spill took that one from me before I was ready. *sniff* Hey, don’t laugh! Have you no sentiment, you robot?
Brooding navel-gazer that I am, I have to contemplate the potential reasons for this pack-rat behavior and suss out the possibility that I’m being a jackass in some way. Are there any delusions of grandeur at work? Well, duh, there’s always at least one of those rattling around in my brainpan. Maybe someday the Arne Nixon Center will want to archive my papers! Heck, maybe the Smithsonian’s American History Museum will want to put my scribbled-up manuscript on display, right next to Fonzie’s jacket! Yeah, yeah, and maybe a suitcase full of thousand-dollar bills will fall out of the sky and land at my feet. I know, I need to get over myself.
It’s also interesting to think about how the galactic dominance of digital technology has affected our desires/needs/compulsions to save this kind of stuff, because it doesn’t seem outrageous to hypothesize that we writers will deal with less and less printed matter as time marches on. Agent Joan and I do all our manuscript work via email, for example. And while I’m all in favor of adopting the paperless office model and living a green lifestyle, I must confess that I feel lucky to have an editor who’ll still scribble up an actual printed manuscript. Those annotated pages feel like precious artifacts, yanno?
So yeah, even the envelope that held my first editorial letter is stashed away in a file. My “welcome to the family” cards are hanging on the wall above my desk. My line edited pages are currently housed in an SCBWI shopping bag, and will be relocated to a more secure locale in the near future. But as cool as those things are, and you have to admit that they’re all pretty cool, I have an even better one in my future, don’t I? The one that’s actually the point of this whole endeavor – my book. My book! As picture book author Tammi Sauer likes to say in congratulatory messages on the Blueboards, wuhooh!
Salivating from anticipation,