By Shannon Baker
There’s a chance I might not be crazy. The evidence, however, suggests otherwise.
Most of the time I can compartmentalize the worst of the fruitcake behavior and hopefully people don’t know how nuts I am.
I usually keep it secret that I have a constant soundtrack going on inside my head. My husband calls it the ShannonPod. A good day is when there is only one song looping. Not every day is good.
I’ve learned to anticipate and warn those around me when an outbreak of lunacy is likely. It’s sort of like a good-hearted werewolf locking himself up on a full moon.
For instance, when I send a manuscript out for review I can turn off the anxiety for a time. But I know when that manuscript is returned there will be fallout. It’s predictable.
I stand with the manuscript in hand.
There is a deep inhalation in preparation. As I read the comments I burn with embarrassment that I could be that stupid. How could I have sent this off when I know better than to make those kinds of mistakes? Then despair sinks in. This manuscript cannot be salvaged. Repair is impossible. My deadline looms and I have to create a completely different story. I’m doomed.
This stage lasts exactly two days.
On the third day I start to understand how to change the plot to make it better. I get a clear idea where to cut, where to add, and how to make that device work. The literary worm turns and I get excited because when I make these changes, this book is going to be brilliant!
For the next two to three weeks I am possessed, obsessed and whatever other ‘ssed writers get when they go so deeply into their story the only time they surface is to 1) eat and 2) go to that pesky day job that supports this bat-shit habit. The only conversation I’m capable of is raving about the new insight into my character. My checkbook will not get balanced and I’ll survive on pickles and saltines before going to the grocery store. I have plenty of underwear to last this manic phase, so I do no laundry.
And then it’s done. You’d think I’d feel relief. Elation! Pride of accomplishment.
Maybe I would… if I weren’t crackers.
Instead, I have Manuscript Withdrawal. After having made all those changes I knew would make the story sing, I’m convinced I’ve failed. It’s drivel and my editor will reject it and I’ll end up in the gutter, my roots will grow out gray, and I’ll have chronic halitosis.
But, wonder of wonders, my editor likes it. It goes into the publishing assembly line and I feel good about it for the next several months. I anticipate the book release. It’s gonna be great! Friends and family will hold it aloft and the champagne will flow.
Except I’m bonkers.
Tainted Mountain (Midnight Ink) is here as of today. By the time this blog is aired it will be available. Since this is my first book with a really great publisher, I have no experience with this part of the publishing process. I don’t know what to expect from my unstable, insecure self. I already feel the draw to the dark side of the anxiety landscape but I’m determined to enjoy this.
It’s a good book. You’ll like it.
So, crazy or not, my ShannonPod is on a constant loop to “I’ve Got a Book,” sung to “I’m On A Boat,” the expletive version. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avaSdC0QOUM
About the Writer: Shannon Baker has a right brain/left brain conflict. While the left brain focuses on her career as an accountant, her right brain concocts thrillers, including her 2010 release, Ashes of the Red Heifer. A lover of mountains, plains, oceans and rivers, she can often be found traipsing around the great outdoors. The first book in the Nora Abbott Mystery Series, Tainted Mountain, released March 2013 from Midnight Ink publishers.