Fans, friends, odds, and ends, it’s been an age since I’ve updated and, lucky for you, I won’t be reviewing a novel in this post. A lot has happened on the writing/publishing end of my world, some good and some bad, that I perceive as simply one more detour and/or step to becoming some kind of published author. Maybe I’ve been reading too many blogs where authors talk about their ‘Writer Path,’ making me feel the need to document my own. Or maybe it’s a way to relieve frustration. A little of both? Yeah, that could be it.
Back in October (good god, was it really October?) I got an agent request from #PitMad. I heard back from her a month later after sending in my package. She turned me down and actually kind of hurt my feelers by saying that my writing wasn’t as ‘matured’ as she’d hoped and that if I ever got the chance to revise, I should resend it to her and to try, try, again. I read the email at work, spewed out some colorful language at the email, and went back to my manuscript TO SHOW HER, WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS. Goddamnit, she was correct. So, in moments of spite, rage, and shame, I edited my manuscript again and found that I hadn’t actually looked at the whole novel in about a month. I was surprised to find that I had—for lack of a better description—fallen out of love with it enough so that I could detect its flaws. I ended up cutting 500 words, eliminated excess adverb usage, and toned down my love for commas by utilizing the ever-handy period. There, Agent! Are you happy now!?
I’m not exactly sure what ‘resubmit when revised’ means. In my mind, it implies I need to revamp the plot instead of just cutting it down and tightening. Maybe I’m wrong? I ask you Internet, what does it mean? I haven’t resubmitted. I’m kind of scared to. That secondary rejection feels like it might be kind of heartbreaking. Fear is a strange thing.
In December, I also joined the #SFFpit and got another agent ‘like.’ She sent me a kind rejection at the end of the month, saying my tale wasn’t her cup of tea. I get that. Still sucks. It’s actually kind of fun to compete in these Twitter competitions. I like to read the feed and there are actually quite a few stories that I hope get picked up because I want to read them.
On the agent front, I still haven’t heard from any of the agents who requested partials based on my initial query. Now that the holiday season has ended, I’ll get around to nudging them and sending the new trimmed manuscript, saying, Hey it’s been like six months. Are you guys into this or not?
Beyond agenting, my short science fiction story received an Honorable Mention from the Writer’s of the Future Contest of which I’m still immensely proud. The story was more mainstream and fast-paced than the one chosen as a Semi-Finalist, and I wrote it in a flurry within a week, but I actually really like it. I wrote another story after it, which I’m also quite proud of. I submitted it to Nightmare Magazine, who kindly rejected it, and then submitted it to Writer’s of the Future for the Quarter 1 contest. I don’t think it’s the right venue for Writer’s of the Future, but what the hell. Banish those negative thoughts.
Now, as for my dark fantasy novel, it was quite comical how my ambition to submit it to Shock Totem by the end of November crashed and burned. That was one of the main reasons for my absence from reading and writing new material. I tried, for the love of god I tried, to get it up to snuff. I dedicated long nights to this baby. I thought I could plow through 157,000-words, trim and tighten the prose, add a scene here and a scene there and bam! It would be acceptable for publication!
No, no, no, a thousand times no. I had fallen out of love with it enough to see its flaws. Big gaping monstrous flaws. This wasn’t just an easy patch. This manuscript needed stitches instead of Band-Aids. The more I read and edited, the more I could feel this impending doom darkening over my head, that overwhelming feeling that I’d bitten off more than I could chew. In the back of my mind I thought I should just scrap it all and start over from scratch. It would be easier. The prospect filled me with actual despair. What to do with the scenes I truly loved? Would they have to be rewritten as well? Was this book just one big darling that I had to kill?
You know how you get an idea and it just won’t leave? It keeps popping up over and over again and no matter what you do, you can’t resolve it? I stressed out so much about this manuscript that I lost sleep. I constructed alternative plot points in my dreams. I agonized at work about how in the world I was going to start over, not just to make it acceptable by the end of November but by February when I needed to get it back to my editor for the second read. I always feel like this: I think I’m ahead, I think I’ve got it good, and then something like this—realization, the hard truth, whatever you want to call it—comes along and slaps me upside the head and tells me nope, you’ve got a long way to go, missy.
I wrote up to the final minutes of the deadline. I sat back in my chair and looked at the computer screen and thought that there was no way I felt comfortable sending it in. Hopefully, they’ll have another open submission and maybe then, I’ll be ready. I closed my computer screen, and surprisingly, felt like I’d done the right thing.
After that, I had a good sit down with the story and came to the conclusion that the book ended in the wrong place. I had a good arc and conclusion, but then I had added another third afterwards as a build up for the second book. It tied in with the overall story, but I decided it might be better to put that last third as the start of the second book. That might be the solution. It reduced word count and enabled me to develop relationships between key characters that might flesh it out better. I haven’t actually done it yet, but I think it’s a good game plan.
Now, I keep envisioning new scenes and character interactions. I spend more time counseling imaginary characters than I ever would spend analyzing my own psyche. I mean, I spend the majority of my time in an imaginary world with imaginary friends and I’m okay with that. Writing is weird.
Beyond writing entirely, I took a fabulous vacation to be in a friend’s wedding and visit New York again. I read two books, which will be reviewed shortly at a blog near you. I also went to Greenwood Cemetery and the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn, both of which I’m excited to discuss in further detail.