Question of the Month: Anniversary

by Susan Henderson on October 1, 2012

Tell me about an anniversary you’re coming up on. It could be a time for celebration, mourning or reflection.

A year ago this month, I started writing my new novel. I learned so many lessons from the first book, and if there’s anything I can truly say I’m good at it’s learning from my mistakes and not being afraid to change course. So what guides me this time?

First, I have a road map. Driving blind may have been the right process for my first book, but this time I have a stronger sense of my journey. I think of it this way… Say I plan to drive from my house in NY to my friend’s house in San Diego. It feels sensible to know the main roads, the shortest routes, and to sketch out some places I’d like to stop at along the way. Driving blind may get me there, but the map gives me more of a guarantee, and it will save a lot of energy, not just on gas but on the driver’s stamina. Having a map won’t keep me from experiencing surprises on the road—something out the window may catch my eye, there may be an unexpected forest fire that forces me to re-route or pick up an injured passenger. In fact, the most memorable parts of the trip are likely to be the ones I can’t anticipate, and the meaning I reach at my journey’s end may be quite different than anything I originally set out to find.

Second, I’m enjoying the process, each phase of it, however long it takes. My emphasis the first time around was too often on the final product—Will it sell? Will others like it? This time I’m not interested in getting ahead of myself. Right now, I’m in most private and creative part of the process, and I’m in no hurry to involve others. Each morning I get to my office, I’m struck again how lucky I am to call this my career, and  how much I learn by wandering around the fictional worlds I create.

And finally, I am determined to have balance this time. I’m eating healthy, I’m exercising, I’m giving my eyes a break, I’m getting fresh air, and I’m enjoying my family, who can interrupt me at any time because they know they are my priority over my work.

I’m really happy with the process this time, and I’m trying my hardest to write the book I’ve always wanted to read. It’s such a welcome difference from the torment I lived through with my first. But enough of my anniversary. I want to hear about yours. Tell me your story.


Many thank you’s for links and press this past month: Steph the Bookworm, The New Yorker, Women’s Fiction Writers, Bokkarete, Fairfield University, Sara’s Organized Chaos, Remote Appeal, What a Feeling, Twylah, The Brain and Body, Bokverdami, 2251 Wall St, TwitTVivo, Gossip Pirate, and the American Library Association.