I have the distinct honor and privilege of having had my fourth book published last week and my fifth book, which will be published next year, done and submitted. It is called “Third Degree,” and I finally let go and sent it off yesterday. Although I’m overjoyed by the publication of “Final Exam,” which so far, has been well received, I’m a nervous wreck having submitted the new manuscript yesterday. You’d think that a day as joyous as that would leave me relaxed and serene.
Far from it.
Let the nail-biting begin.
Thanks to fellow Stiletto-wearing Susan McBride, I’ve stopped (kind of) engaging in risky behavior once a book is published. To wit: I no longer Google myself. I no longer read reviews unless my publisher sends them via email with a cover letter that’s either filled with glee or comes with a warning to not open until I’m sitting down (hate those, by the way). I definitely don’t check my Amazon numbers. These are all very wise instructions from a very wise, and not to mention, fabulous, writer.
But when you turn a manuscript in, there’s nothing left to do but wait. I hemmed and hawed about this latest manuscript’s “doneness” for far too long. Let’s just say that after repeated calls to the only other member of my writing group, the supremely-talented, Alison (no relation to Bergeron), to get assurance that I could indeed send it in and not be embarrassed, I hit the ‘send’ button. Honestly, I thought that I would be happy and relieved that I had beat my deadline by not one, but TWO, weeks. But instead, I feel anxiety.
Why is that?
I’m sure that the venerable Stiletto Gang ladies and all of our faithful followers can weigh in with a variety of theories. I’m fairly sure that they’ve all felt what I’m feeling right now in varying degrees during their writing careers. You worry that it isn’t as ‘done’ as you had thought. You have separation anxiety, thinking that with just one more day, or one more edit, it will be perfect. You have concern that your agent and/or editor won’t ‘get it’ and that they will look askance at you like “what the heck were you thinking, girlfriend?” You fret that it’s just not good.
But after four books that have gone into the interwebs and to my editor and agent, I can tell you that a variety of these things happen, sometimes all at once, sometimes one at a time, sometimes in batches. It may not be perfect or they may not ‘get it.’ Or they get it, but it needed one final edit. Or some parts are great, and others just don’t work.
When all is said and done, it’s a first draft and you’ve been treating it like a printed book.
You’d think I would have avoided this pitfall because as you all know, my day job is an editor. But the wise counsel, hopefully, that I give to the authors with whom I work apparently doesn’t apply to me. It takes some getting your mind around but everything that one puts on the page is not brilliant the first time around. That’s why we have editors, and agents, and trusted friends who tell us the god’s honest truth when something just isn’t that good.
Until that time comes, however, I’m going to revel in the wonder that is good health, a wonderful family, a fulfilling career, and an overall feeling of happiness and well-being that a perfectly-constructed mystery can add to but can never bring totally.
Best wishes, Stiletto faithful.