I just got off the phone with my daughter. My last bit of advice to her was not to look too long or too hard for information on the internet. The internet would offer too much information, more than was good to know. It could easily be daunting and overwhelming. It would better, I suggested wisely, to take things one step at a time. The hills never look as high and difficult when you actually get to them.
Fine words from a woman who was fresh off her own discouragement of internet overload!
To date, I had been surprised at my calm approach to the ‘next step.’ I just needed to keep writing and when it was time, when I felt the book was ‘finished’ simply take the ‘next step.’ I had reached that point. I realized I could re-write and tweak my manuscripts until I had reduced them to a pile of meaningless dust and ashes. Or, OR! I could pursue the NEXT STEP! I could go about the business of submitting them.
I had already browsed web sties of potential publishers. One popped out at me. The submission’s process was relatively an easy one. E-mails only please, and include….. It was straight forward and simple to follow.
I produced my letter and sent if off for appraisal. Not to Gwen my faithful lab rat, but to a new victim, Carole. She returned it with some valuable advice and I tried again. For several days I read and re-read that letter. I tweaked and chiseled, added and subtracted. I brought up the first chapter of Steeple in the Distance; determined to eliminate every wrong punctuation mark the chapter contained; determined to polish it to perfection.
Have I ever mentioned that I am not a copy editor? The fine points of grammar and punctuation elude me. I see and read what SHOULD be there, my brain supplying what is lacking or missing. I can’t spell either, but the red lines that keep popping up as I type keep that under control. I forced myself to pay attention, to ignore the content and keep my eyes centered for untidy grammar. For me that is difficult work.
I told myself it was a good project for the hottest days of the summer. The temperatures climbed, 90, 92, 95. The dew points took up the challenge and did their best to one up the temps. The air conditioning unit throbbed continuously below the bedroom window. I had only to stay inside and lose myself in my work. Work that frustrates and irritates me but must be accomplished.
I know better. Even with the best of air conditioners and with minimal excursions outside the house, the heat always wins. It always beats me down and turns my ambitions to the pile of dust and ashes I mentioned earlier. But I was oblivious to the peril and on the day of the worst of the heat, I decided to take a break from editing and peruse the internet.
The idea struck me that it might be a good thing to have a list of publishers on hand. It might be helpful to compile a ‘master list.’ With each rejection I would be ready to send out anther submission. The work I was doing on the letter and chapter would serve for many submissions. The ‘next step’ could not be a awful as it seemed.
Never mind, ‘have you met my sons?’! Have you ever waded through publisher web sites? Each one required a different set of components in the submission process, if they even permitted submissions without an agent. I should have stopped with the publishers. The web sites of literary agents sent me straight into the ‘depths of despair’! (Thank you Anne Shirley) I followed one link to the next. Hope fled. The quagmire increased. There was nothing left to be done but lay my head on the desk and admit defeat. The heat had defeated me, the editing had conquered and the ‘master list’ had left me for dead. With the last fleeting breath of hope, the white flag waved resignedly, I surrendered. It would never happen for me. The books could stay on the computer, nothing but electronic impulses that would forever be ignored. Drama, drama, drama!
I did the only thing left to me, I walked out and away from the computer and down to the sewing room.
The next morning the computer crooked a wire in my direction and the screen saver winked shyly. “C’mon,” it enticed. “You can’t say no, not to me, not anymore.” It was correct and I sat down as usual. Although I was returning, I was going to return on my terms. I ignored the letter and the books, skipped over those files and opened a third book. Not THE third book, the last in the series, but a different one, one that I had thrown together as a spin off from the second book. I hadn’t bothered with it in months as other work seemed more pressing.
I opened the files and cheerfully began to work. Writing was fun, I could do this. I liked what I was doing. The drama of yesterday was forgotten. The words poured from my fingers as my brain fed them with ideas.
The temperatures had leveled off in the night. I wrote, I figured out dinner, I cleaned the house. At one point I stopped. I felt the need to share my drama. Really?
I sent the following e-mail to Carole.
I must admit that as much as I have always disliked girls and their drama I have been a victim of it myself! Perhaps it is the heat but yesterday I was searching the internet for more and perhaps better ‘targets’ for submitting my work to. The farther I went the more discouraged I became. I haven’t been that ‘down’ since I wrote to Gwen, my lab rat, and told her that if the manuscript had been on paper I would have torn it to shreds. I had a similar feeling and instead of ruining a perfectly good and fairly new computer walked away, telling myself that it didn’t matter if I ever got published or not.
This morning not only did I figure out what to make for dinner, a major accomplishment on any day, but went cheerfully back to work. Not on the letter or the first chapter of Steeple in the Distance but a third book, not THE third book. This one is only about 7 chapters long. IT is a spin off of the second book, some characters I introduced and felt the urge to develop further. I let it stew for several months and know what I want to do with it. I have begun to think that maybe I need to market this book first. The opening chapter might hook, capture attention better than the other two. I also think the writing might be more mature. Briefly it is about a 90 year old woman who walked out on her five year old son and husband, (first husband of the woman in the second book) and now wants to know her grandchildren etc. The way the story line goes now is rather trite, but I would like to develop not only the ninety year old woman but her granddaughter, Faith, (mother of the second Annabelle, or the Annabelle 2000) and Faith’s mother-in-law.
Maybe I am just panting for some excuse to really write instead of re-reading the same pages for comma’s and periods. Maybe I am just trying to avoid the whole business issue. Anyway I am also discouraged by my drama. I think maybe there is the next post for my blog in all of this. At the same time why do I feel the need to blab my drama?
So I blabbed to Carole, got back to work and felt better. I will still have to face the issue, edit the letter and make the chapter presentable. But not now. I sent Carole an e-card and we both, I think, fantasized about sitting by a pool to wait out the hot weather. Neither of us has the option. The characters in my book do. Maybe this is a good time to work on that chapter.
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