Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dear Birch Knoll/A Writer's Doubt

Today I was listening to some music when the beautiful Joni Mitchell song, "Both Sides Now," came on. All of a sudden I was transported back to my summers at Camp Birch Knoll. It's weird because I've mined those camp memories for the last couple of years while I wrote JEMMA HARTMAN, but for some reason I hadn't remembered that song. And all of a sudden... there it was.

We didn't sing "Both Sides Now" at camp, but we sang a song to that tune. 

The opening went like this:

Dear Birch Knoll it's hard to find
the words and music which combined
express the feelings in our mind
and thoughts we have of you.

I just sang the whole song for my daughter - a Birch Knoll girl herself, and even though she laughed at how badly I sang, she loved the sentiment. 

The thing is... this opening totally addresses my fear about JEMMA HARTMAN. What if I haven't found the right "words and music" to express my true feelings about camp? I hope I've captured the magic of camp. But I have no idea if I was successful or not. 

I remember being similarly anxious about JULIA'S KITCHEN. After the copy editing and before the book comes out, you've got this long period of time in limbo. You're not working on the book to make it better. But you have no idea if it will be well-received or not. How could you not worry just a bit? Perhaps this doubt is part of the creative process. What do you think?


Lisa Chellman said...

Ok, so I've never gotten to the stage where you are... But I worry about this kind of stuff ALL the time! Probably too much. I don't know if it's part of the creative process, but I do think it goes hand-in-hand with being a creative person--so sensitive to the world and to the people in it we hope will read our books!

Brenda Ferber said...

Sensitivity... a double edged sword! I think you're right, Lisa. But at some point you've got to say, "I've done my best." We have no control over anything else! Whenever I'm feeling blue or anxious or any other hard feeling, I try to notice the feeling, recognize it for what it is, and let it go. So that's what I'm doing with this doubt (today anyway!).