I'm sitting here with the unbound version of Yield that will soon go to a printer to be returned to me in galleys. I've been told by the production editor at Kensington to check for "the accuracy of data, typesetting and editing." This is the first time I've seen the book look the way it will look when it is actually a book. Initially, I wrote in 11-point Times New Roman--probably because this was the default on my Word at the time. Then when I started sending the manuscript around to agents I changed it to 12-point Courier because this seemed to be the way they all wanted it. (I was probably wrong about that, but here I am.) Now the book is in something else, I don't know what it is, but it's fluid and has a nice blankness to it, a kind of anonymous-looking font that fits well with the story. But, I've never seen the book like this, and it's proving difficult to adjust.
When I was writing, I paid close attention to the white space on the page. I paid close attention to single words hanging off a line. If a single word fell at the beginning of the line by itself, then I changed the sentence so it wouldn't be like that. I think, now that I've had some distance from the writer I was in my early 20s, that this was all: an attempt to control what you can't control, a concern for something that doesn't really matter that much to the reader, who isn't you, and who doesn't care about that kind of thing, or at least doesn't notice, and also the only way I knew how to tell if the writing was, well, musically, how it should sound.
Suddenly, the book is new again, looking beautifully together, but still strange to me. I'm reading it again, page by page, remembering all the nights spend struggling with it, all the weeks that summer where the pages were plastered all over the walls, the circled verbs, the highlighted sections of imagery, the re-ordered chapters just to see what that was like.
Books sitting on hard drives only serve to corrode the will. But as grateful as you are that you're being published, you feel a certain sadness--not sadness, actually. Growing pains, maybe. You relive the insecurity of starting the thing, the uncertainty of the characters in the beginning, and you remember all the nights spent alone at the desk and the amount of work you have put into it is overwhelming and, perhaps as self-protection, almost impossible to remember.
I'm excited. But also anxious. And insecure, and suddenly shy about it. The reader won't have the same emotional peaks that I have when I read the book--they will have their own, of course, at least one hopes--mine are mostly about my own experience during the crafting of it.
So many disparate things can be true all at once.