Monday, October 09, 2006

Kathleen Loves the Colors, Frets Over Change

I've learned to be ready for anything in the fall. The short-lived splash of color often signals some seminal change in my life. Birth (mine), deaths (both parents), marriage (mine, my daughter's) , publication of my first book and some of my best books, and nearly every move I've ever made from old home to new. The prospects are both exciting and terrifying.

I'm not one of those people who embraces change, especially when I have little or no say in the matter. Change is heavy, messy, hard to keep track of, and I have a way of making it more complicated than necessary. Eventually I adapt, always have, but not without chafing. Not without serious chomping at the bit, even when the change really isn't that big.

So what's got me agitated this fine Monday morning?
Sudden changes at my publishing house. Major changes in the editorial department. A veritable massacre late last week. I've been through this kind of thing before--when Harper bought Avon/Morrow, I was on pins and needles for weeks on end waiting for the other shoe to drop--but this time it feels different. I started out at Silhouette. Harlequin's purchase of the imprint back in the mid-80's was briefly unsettling, but my editor and I made the change in fine fettle, and we've been more or less together ever since. We're a good fit. Even after I started publishing single title books at Avon, I kept a hand in series, working with the same editor. Harlequin/Silhouette was my ace-in-the-hole, and my editor there was a rock. Last week she calls to tell me that (after, what? 25 years?) she's been given a new assignment. Three days a week working from home as "editor at large." She's getting used to the idea, she tells me, and we can still work together if I'm comfortable with it.

Comfortable? What does that mean in this crazy business, comfortable? I'm as loyal as anybody's best hunting dog. I've never met an editor I didn't like, never hooked up with one I couldn't work with. Each one has brought something different to my table--and it's always ultimately been my table. My book with my name on the cover. It's a tough job. We creative types tend to get all knotted up inside in the process of trying make something out of nothing, and we need all the security we can get. We need that rock.

Publishing house shakeups are part of the writing life. Change is part of every life. Sand in the writer's oyster, I guess. The cozy little garret is a myth, Kathleen, so get over it.

Anyone else resistant to change? Rather fight, or switch? We all know the punches will come. What are your tricks for rolling with them?


Debra Dixon said...


I hate change. Hate it. Hate it.

However, in an odd twist of fate, I also embrace a challenge so once I get over my initial resentment, I fling myself into the change and find a way to shape it to my needs. It's like a game.

Now, that's when someone else's choice force change on me. When *I'm* the one who's decided a change is necessary I don't bat an eye. Wait...that's not true. I hate having to change then too.

There is something so seductive about being settled and knowing the future to some extent.

Helen Brenna said...

I have mixed feelings about change.

Every time my husband talks about a new computer, I break out in a sweat. New haircut, uh, uh. Transitions from school to summer and summer to school tie me up in knots.

But a new car, rearranging the furniture, a new friend, love those changes.

I guess what Deb said is true for me too. If it's something I've decided is necessary, I'm all over it. Things that are forced on me don't sit as well.

This one was forced on you, Kathy.

Debra Dixon said...

For folks who were very interested in Kathleen's thoughtful take on women's fiction in the comments on the interview with Deb Smith, check them out again. (Debra & Debra Reach a Crossroads Interview)

Deb Smith has toddled back through and added some more fuel to this fire.

Thanks for the discussion Kathleen!

Jaye Wells said...

I think I'm the opposite. I am more comfortable with change than being settled. I guess I'm restless and easily become bored. If things are too smooth I start looking for ways to shake them up. Luckily, I married a man who is resistant to change. While it causes some "discussions", we mostly help each other. I make him more adventuresome and he helps me look before I leap. I'm learning to enjoy the journey instead of constantly chasing new goals.

anne frasier said...

sometimes i love change. i get tired of places and bored with them once i've figured them out so i want to move on and explore new territory. but as i've gotten older, i'm also fearful of change. i think because i know change can be expensive, and i might fall and break a hip, then what?

Helen Brenna said...

Then we'll buy you a cane, Anne! Or a walker, yeah, walker. LOL

Jaye, people like you amaze me.

Betina Krahn said...

I'm with the crew who loves some changes, hates others. I love new foods and new places to walk and new houses and the adventure of settling in to a new place. But I hate having to change things that are comfortable, like. . . computers, agents, editors, publishing houses.

You know what else I hate. . . when I finally find a make and style of bra that I love and the danged lingerie makers go and drop the style or change the materials (make them cheaper!)to fatten their profits. I don't care about their profits, I just want the bra I want. There's nothing worse than standing in a huge "Intimates" department (a near oxymoron), having to decide which items to try on. . . like choosing your new best friend from a wall of lycra and nylon. Ugh.

And I have to say, that after the whining and thrashing and complaining and foot-dragging. . . I usually like my new computer, my new agent, my new editor and they help me do a better job as a writer. Knowing that, I can persevere until my feelings change for the better.

But Fall. . . that's one change I never mind watching happen.

:) Betina