Friday, October 21, 2005

Click "Submit" and cringe

My editor at Luna Books received the manuscript for The Eyes of Crow today (eleven days early--probably the last deadline I'll ever meet).

Am I nervous? Why, no.

It's not as if they took a big chance on a new writer who had only published one e-book with what could charitably be called a "cult following." It's not as if I've already spent the first part of my advance. It's not as if I wrote the second half of the novel in such a sprint that plotlines and character arcs began to untie themselves and flop around like shoelaces on a Nike knockoff, and I can only pray that I caulked the worst of the cracks in my latest draft.* It's not as if my whole career depends on this book. It's not as if--

Oh, dammit. It's as if. All of it.

My editor said she had some open time in her schedule, so she might start reading it this weekend. (In case anyone's curious, editors and agents nearly always have to read submissions on their own time. They don't spend their days at the office kickin' back with a good book.)

As for me, I will spend this weekend adding strength and dimension to one of the main characters in my screenplay. It's only 112 pages long, which gives me room to add a scene or two to show why the hell my main character falls in love with her in the first place.

*At this bar, the metaphors are stirred, not shaken.

UPDATE: Friday, 7:46 PM. Nearly 3 hours into the weekend, my editor has still not called to tell me she's shoving my contract down the garbage disposal. Yay!

13 Comments:

This sounds vaguely like me since I'm in the final stretch of prepping my novel. By this time next week, if all goes well and I don't have a panic attack, I'll have sent anget queries out into the world for it.

Yesh, good to know the anxiety is common at all levels.

Posted by: Anonymous Vernieda at 10/21/2005 1:05 PM

Hi, Vernieda, welcome to the blog! Best of luck with your novel and querying agents. How exciting (and nerve-wracking, I know)!

You're doing the NaNoWriMo, right? That will help take your mind off the submission process. The waiting game is best played while the mind is otherwise employed (or deployed, if you prefer).

I imagine the anxiety level only increases as writers achieve more success. There's probably a beautiful moment when you've "arrived" and everyone makes a fuss over you because you're the Next Big Thing. But it's all downhill from there, because then you're just one mediocre book away from being a has-been.

Cheery thought, huh? Actually, I think it's good for writers to keep the pressure on themselves to always make the current book blow the previous ones out of the water. In his book Writing the Breakout Novel, lit agent Donald Maass talks about all the midlist authors who get complacent and start churning out the same old shit, then they blame the market/publisher/constellations/whatever when their careers tank. (Those are my words, by the way.)

However, a writer's success is inversely proportional to our sympathy for his or her plights. Witness the following examples:

"I've just patched the holes in the walls of my shanty with rejection letters and will feed on Friskies this week to stay alive."

versus

"Oh my gosh, howEVER will I decide which $600 pumps to wear for my Katie Couric interview?"

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 10/21/2005 1:32 PM

I think anyone who cares about what she does for a living is hard on herself. I always doubt the qualiry of my work. And I think that's good.

Cecilia

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 10/21/2005 4:11 PM

And that's why you continue to rock, Cecilia.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 10/21/2005 4:17 PM

Thanks!

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 10/21/2005 6:44 PM

That's the plan with NaNoWriMo! Let's hope it works. :)

I think Cecelia's right. If you care about your work, you'll always be hard on yourself. I think it was Patrick Nielsen-Hayden who said that if you're agonizing over your submission and worry about its quality, chances were that you were likely to be in the top 20% of the slush pile already.

"Oh my gosh, howEVER will I decide which $600 pumps to wear for my Katie Couric interview?"

Bleargh. If I ever say anything like that, someone needs to smack me upside the head. (Also: the idea of paying $600 for a pair of shoes offends me and my 1.5 generation immigrant values. Chances are I'd never hear the end of it from my mother.)

Posted by: Anonymous Vernieda at 10/22/2005 10:29 AM

It's good to be nervous about quality. It keeps us on our toes. I also know you're a good writer and have nothing to worry about.

Deep breaths. In with the good air, out with the bad air...

Posted by: Blogger Sharon GR at 10/22/2005 10:52 AM

$600 is too much, but I'm starting to think $12 is too little. I have these cute-looking but crappily built pair of strappy short heels I probably got at Payless, and they are the worst. Painfully thin soles, and they don't even stay on my feet. But I wear heels so infrequently I never remember I need to replace them until it's time to wear them again.

Thanks, Sharon. I think my editor will like it, maybe even love it if she's feeling happy or drunk or both. It's kind of funny the way our minds work through different drafts. I loved the first draft, which isn't half as good as the third draft, which I don't love, because I'm able to see all its flaws.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 10/22/2005 11:01 AM

Jeri,

It rocks baby. Trust me on this. Any editting/rewriting only made it stronger and it was pretty damn strong to begin with.

The Lunatics are gonna LOVE you.

terri (who is now writing her heroine's character arc which she didn't know 30 chapters ago. Sigh)

Posted by: Blogger moonhart at 10/22/2005 2:22 PM

Relax. You're tops.

Posted by: Blogger Rob S. at 10/23/2005 9:19 PM

Well, thanks, Rob. I think I've just reached that critical stage in the revision process where I can only see the blemishes. Which is good in that I won't miss mistakes due to the stars in my eyes, but bad in that I might make change that don't need to be made.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 10/23/2005 9:40 PM

I'm sure your manuscript will be received with the utmost enrapture; all of your books so far have been great. ;)

I hope your publisher will be releasing electronic versions of your new series.

Good luck, Rasmus

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 10/27/2005 7:05 PM

Wow, thanks, Rasmus, and welcome to the blog.

There's a lot of talk at Luna about releasing e-books, so my guess is that by this time next year it will happen. Either the electronic version will be released simultaneously with the paper version or perhaps slightly afterwards. I really hope it happens because that's the only way many people got a chance to read Requiem, especially people in other countries.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 10/28/2005 7:35 AM

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