Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Post-Submission Blues

Trying to become a published author is going to kill me, I just know it. My agent just submitted my manuscript to two publishers and for the first time, I have post-partem depression. I so want an editor to fall in love with my story, and I'm so afraid they won't. On the other hand, I'm also terrified that they will fall in love with it and have expectations. I hate people having expectations about me. I mean, you then have to start living up to expectations. This can be a very bad thing. While it may make you perform better, it can also drive you crazy. It could also mean they want to see another manuscript soon.

I'm getting frantic about that next manuscript soon thing, because I've realized that while I can whip out a new rough draft in no time, that rough draft is in no way something I want any human being to ever see. I like it to sit for a while, preferably about a year while odd thoughts percolate through my pea-brain, at which point I go back and start the revamp process, which may take another year of piddling, doing something else for a month or two, and then piddling again. Not that I'm not continuing to write more manuscripts in the meantime, but that first one can take up to two years to get where I want it to be before an agent or editor sees it. My mind munges edits very slowly and it takes a long time for me to think of all the things I really wanted to reveal in a story.

Over the last two years, I've managed to write three rough drafts (I was depressed in 2005 - normally I can do 3 rough drafts in a year) and one of those is within inches of being sent to my agent. But that is not a high production rate when you think about it. And one of the ones I've written is "outside" of my normal genre, which is Regency-set romantic mysteries. The oddball is a contemporary vampire tale, just because I felt like doing something different and everyone is doing one. And I loved John Carpenter's "Vampires" movie, which, okay, is old-hat now, but still, it was inspiring.

Anyway, my survival at this production rate will be dependent upon me "staying ahead of the curve" by writing enough manuscripts far enough in advance that when some publisher (or my agent) wants to see something new, I can give them something which I wrote, say, two years ago, and have since polished to a diamond-like sparkle.

I recently poked around Sue Grafton's web site (she's my idol) and she indicated that she had to convince her editor to let her do one book every two years instead of one book every year. This made me feel marginally better because she's this terrific, big-time writer and it takes her time to polish her stuff, too (at least that is what I'm assuming, although it could mean she takes 1.5 years to research and then 6 months to write/polish).

So maybe I just need to quit worrying and get to work writing about 60 rough drafts so over the next few years I can have a book published every 6 months and everyone will think I'm this brilliant writer who can whip out a book in 3 months. Yeah. That's the ticket. Okay, I'm on it.

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