Once upon a time I finished a book. Well, actually, I thought I'd finished the book back in 2009--it was book-length, after all, and hefted impressively in my hand. I'd even gone through and rewritten a bit. So I started the querying process--which means that I sent out letters and sample pages to about seven agents and asked if they'd want to represent me (to get a big publisher, you need an agent, and I'd love an expert on my side for the business end of things regardless). Anyway, a big agency in Great Britain wanted to see my full manuscript. I sent it. And they emailed me back saying something like:
"You're great with tension and writing, but the middle has no plot and your characters still need a lot of work."
I read through my manuscript again. And they were being generous.
So I rewrote. Every day. I made a chart, re-plotted each section (especially the middle), rewrote each chapter, reread the manuscript, highlighted characters in different colors, reworked each character, rewrote again...repeat twice more, add some salt, and I started querying a much more polished manuscript at the start of this year. This time I waited, and I reread the whole thing last week (my kindest of husbands watched the kids, and I had a can of A&W root beer to keep me company). It's good this time--at least, I would've liked it when I was a kid (I like it now, in fact), and that's what I want: to keep readers up past their bedtimes and help them feel the companionship I enjoyed from my favorite authors growing up. And rewriting, I found, is fun. It's taking the bad and making it good. It's creative. It's fulfilling.
Querying isn't nearly as fun as writing. Still, I have out a full and a partial right now, and I've decided to pause and watch for those responses before I go bug anyone else.
Waiting's hard. It's an exercise in patience, in taking deep breaths and distracting myself. I wanted my novel to be a first-person narrative about someone else, like Bruce Brook's The Moves Make the Man or To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. But I also wanted to write fantasy, because I love reading fantasy most, and I found it's awfully fun to write what I read. The result is Swindle Witch, except it might not be titled that forever because I suck at titles.
I've started on my second novel, because it's good to move on. The initial chapter's rough, but first drafts are. I learned that last time. And the only way to get to the rewriting is to write.
So, in the vein of showing how I manage to write, here's my picture for today. It's the only clock my three-year-old will listen to. It keeps him in his room for his Quiet Time and mommy's Writing Time:
He glows red when you touch his helmet. He beeps, but if he played the Darth Vader theme when his alarm went off, he'd be absolutely perfect.