It’s not a good place to be less than a week before deadline.
If this was a numbness born of overwork or a really good run, it would be different. But it isn’t. Instead, I find myself having difficulty maintaining a level of enthusiasm for a project that has been slowly morphing away from my original vision to something very much less than what it ought to have been, mostly in the last month. Production realities concerning rights and availabilities have dictated the changes and cuts, and there’s no way around them within the book’s design and instruction. We’ve proposed alternatives, but they’re not happening.
I feel like I’m marking time, and this is somewhere I never wanted to be. I like to be proud of my work; I like to be excited about it. I’m sure that by the time this book’s proofs come back to me I will have come to terms with its new format and be fine with it, but I need to be at that point now in order to keep giving it my all. But since the latest round of cuts arrived just before I left on holiday I only got to apply them today, and it had a pretty depressing impact on my productivity. I had to handle rewrites concerning the book’s outline, purpose, and mandate in the introduction and first half, and it was disheartening.
I just want it done so it can be someone else’s problem for a while (not that I want my wonderful, wonderful editor to have to handle even more problems surrounding this project, as she’s already juggled lots of them and rescued some of what was slated to be cut — and this is the two weeks leading up to her wedding!). The irony is that in order to get it done I have to be motivated, and I’m having difficulty mustering the energy for that at this level of work-related depression.
I do want to stress that just because this book isn’t going to be what I had planned for it to be, it’s not going to be a poor quality product. It’s going to be something different, that’s all, and I will know it’s different, and that’s what makes me sad. In theatre and creative writing we talk about the audience/reader not seeing the gaffer or masking tape holding everything together, and this is a similar situation. I will always know what it could have been, and therefore what it is not. It is going to be a beautiful book, I do know that; the interior and exterior art are spectacular.
Oh, birds. I love you so much. My file of deleted material is bulging with wonderful stuff. I’m holding onto it in the hopes that we can publish an expanded edition some day, or insert the bonus material in the e-book version. But I’m also not holding my breath.