I was chatting on the phone with my publisher last week, and she asked if I was writing.
“Oh, a few things,” I said.
She groaned and said, “That’s what writers always say. You like to be mysterious.”
I’ve been thinking about this, and I’ve decided: I’m not mysterious; I’m superstitious. Especially when speaking with a publisher. If I talk about what I’m writing, the muse might disappear. Or I might get sidetracked. I’m very easily sidetracked.
I have good reason for this fear.
Here are three hypothetical conversations. (My publisher is more kind and tactful that this hypothetical publisher, but you’ll get the gist.)
Me: I’m working on a young adult novel about a pregnant teen.
Publisher: Oh, did you read My Big Fat Teen Pregnancy by Super Famous Author, released last week?
Me: I’m working on a picture book about pigeon poop.
Publisher: Ha! That’s hilarious. Yeesh, picture books have been an impossible sell lately, though. And the pigeon market’s glutted.
Me: I’m working on an early reader, and it’s going really smoothly.
Publisher: Great! Then you’ll have time to write this wonderful project we’ve thought of, The History of Eyelashes, which we’ve scheduled for fall release.
Do you see the problem? There is not one of these scenarios in which my original book idea gets written. Thus, we writers are “mysterious.”