The Novelist’s Due – #1

EPISODE 1: Let the games begin

It’s great. It sucks.
It’s great. It sucks.
It’s great. It sucks.
It’s great. It sucks.

This is the dreary madness that consumes your brain when the flow of words halts and the day’s writing session is done. This refrain alternates with the intermittent ponderance Why in the hell am I doing this?, which tends to intrude upon the stream of consciousness just after a comma throws up a roadblock in the middle of a strenuous compound sentence.

When you hit that magical milestone, however, which I did on February 15, the one in which you optimistically declare I’m finished!, you are allowed to take one breath. Two, if you were holding your breath during those last, countless revisions of your final sentence.

manuscript in edit mode

manuscript in edit mode

First Step: Feedback

One fantasizes one can simply toss a manuscript over the fence to an agent or publisher like a stray rock from somebody else’s yard. Perhaps if one is John Grisham. The more appropriate reality is that you have to get people to read your magnificent manuscript before you even begin thinking of heading down the publishing path.

That, at least, was the advice of a young red-headed agent I encountered at Litquake 2007: “Make sure you put the best possible manuscript in front of a publisher,” was her sage advice.

She suggested writing groups. I am pursuing friends.

Fortunately I have friends who are eager for me to send them the manuscript. Twelve pages into it, we’ll see if their enthusiasm wanes. We’ll see how many dinner invitations are rescinded, how many emails unanswered, how many uncomfortable phone calls endured.

I’m kidding of course. My friends are wonderful. The lingering worry is What if my manuscript is not? The ridiculous courage it takes to get from Page One to The End (please…don’t ever actually type that at the end of your manuscript) stands on shaky legs when the ream of printed paper is staring you in the face begging, Send me…Send me…

All in the name of fiction. What a madness.

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