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Wednesday, October 11, 2006


E. Lockhart gave me a copy of The Boy Book the other week. Lucky me, right? So here I am, wandering around my apartment reading about what actually happened to Ruby Oliver and Jackson (Jackson is one of the best depictions of a skeevy guy I’ve ever read). In my other hand, I had a mug.

But I was also generally distracted, because my brain was full of Girl At Sea edits. So when I got to the kitchen, I put The Boy Book in the sink. Not only into the sink—but into a sink FULL OF WATER.

I did not mean to put The Boy Book into a sink full of water. I meant to set it on the bookcase. But that’s where I left the mug. It was next to the drill.

What drill? Oh, that would be the drill I ended up buying when I went out looking for jeans. I really needed those jeans, too. “Maureen,” I said to myself. “Do not come home without them.”

But like I said. Drill. Not even a big, impressive drill. A mini-drill. For my mini-drilling needs. And I do need the drill, because I managed to knock down a shelf.

“What is wrong with you?” you must surely be asking.

It’s a good question. I have Author Edit Head. This is a common ailment among writers.

Many of us would freely admit that even on the best of days, we’re not brain surgeons. But when we get deeply into the very, very last days of our books, we get very, very focused on writing and fixing, and very, very bad at everything else. Our entire world is colored by whatever we are working on. We’re overrun with details. The red scarf on page 81 that accidentally became a blue scarf on page 167. The number of times we repeated a certain word in a single paragraph. That clanking paragraph. The chapter that still makes no sense. An overuse of commas.

So we may not immediately notice that we’re on the wrong train, or that sandwich we have been eating is actually just a piece of bread with mustard on it, or that our sleeve is smoldering, but not yet on fire.

Now, it’s possible that this is just me, and that I’m always like this and Author Edit Head is something I just made up to cover for my general soft-headedness, but I do not think so.

Charles Dickens is said to have walked twenty-five miles a day or something like that. My suspicion? He was always working on a massive book and was in a constant state of Author Edit Head and forgot to stop.

Agatha Christie once left her car abandoned in a pit and disappeared for a week. It was said to have been a mysterious disappearance, or a stunt. Again, I suspect Author Edit Head.

A rare, actual photograph of Leo Tolstoy, during the final days of working out the glitches of War and Peace.

So, while I sit here with the pages of Girl At Sea, Oscar Gingersnort has kept me from hurting myself on the furniture. I just sharpen my pencils and work.

Notice, also, that Oscar has enabled all of these wonderful things on the blog! Comments! Post e-mailing! He does not have Author Edit Head. Please take advantage of these new joys. Are you a writer? Do you suffer from AEH? Tell us all about it.


Anonymous Oscar Gingersnort said...

See it is easy to do. Don't be shy.

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do that sometimes. I'll sit down, get to work, and forget about everything else. I once forgot to eat both lunch and dinner. I stopped when the alarm I set to remind me its time to watch Gilmore Girls went off and realized I was starving.

2:41 AM  
Anonymous Josie said...

Yeah, I know just what you mean...when I'm in that stage, I call it being low on virtual memory, like an overloaded computer. It's nearly impossible to run other programs (like, the program that reminds you to call your parents! or the program that makes you brush your teeth!) when your brain is so full of story. Maybe sharp pencils aren't the best idea?

3:09 AM  
Blogger Jordan said...

I do this often. I sit down at my studio desk.....and four hours later get up from my work and can't figure out why it's so late. I could swear I've only been working maybe a half hour....

5:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not do this often. This may be due to the fact i am not a writer. THis is most likely due to the fact i am still in high school. And who is Agatha Christie?

I hope you don't kill yourself before the book is published. Are you sure it was a good idea for you to get a drill? Even a mini one?

5:45 AM  
Anonymous Keris said...

Anonymous (the first), I love that you forget to eat, but have an alarm for GG - my kinda priorities! :)

I also do this and I am an author, but I can't blame editing - I've always been like this.

9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

agatha christie is a pioneering lady author who wrote genre-defining mysteries. google and amazon her.

glad to have a comments feature. condolences on the author edit head.

ps. is it really necessary for the word verification to be so long? :)


4:34 AM  
Blogger TadMack said...


Maureen, your writing is hysterical and I love it, and I, too, sit down and time swooshes past whilst I'm in the gates of Edit Hell, and then I realize I have to pee desperately, I'm bouncing in my chair, and I'm starving. And people who use my computer are bewildered by the fact that Outlook has little blips that appear that say 'Eat Something? Kitchen?' -- makes them think I'm insane. My Person put them on my computer, and if I could find how he did it, I'd take them off. And probably starve...

Happy YA-ing! Can't wait to catch up on all your novels!

8:59 AM  
Anonymous reprehn said...

Great post! I really enjoyed 'Firebird', btw. Very engaging story :)

6:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous to anonymous I too love GG and set alarms for it. I also read Maureen's books during the comercials of Veronica Mars. A show I highly recommend everyone and a thousand of their friends watch.

11:34 AM  
Anonymous Becky said...

Maureen, I've just started reading The Key to the Golden Firebird, and have found that your writing is incredibly engaging. Although I am sure that AEH isn't good for your health, it is certainly good for your books.

I too suffer from AEH, although I have not yet managed to sell a book. However, just yesterday, I was buried in a story idea, when along came my good friend, Hannah. She tried to make conversation; I didn't reciprocate. She suggested we eat, and I jumped up. I had lost track of time. I had started brainstorming after breakfast, and hadn't realized that it was already lunch. We went into the kitchen, where I invited her to eat a banana or piece of cake. We both elected to eat bananas, but I was still in AEH-mode, and belatedly realized that I'd forgotten to peel my banana.

We're all guilty. Even those who deny it. You're even more guilty.

8:40 PM  
Blogger NightDrive said...

According to Doctor Who, Agatha Christie disappeared because her brain had been accidently connected to a giant alien wasp and when she killed it, it wiped her memory. She drowned it in a lake. I cheered out loud for her.

Good reason to lose your memory in my book.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Chelsea said...

So that would explain the lack of comments on earlier posts. I understand now.

10:23 AM  
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