My intention was to, on the 30th of November, i.e. today, type “The End”. Did I meet my goal? Hell, yes. Actually (she said just a little bit smugly), I typed the end on the 16th of November. Clearly the story wanted to be finished.
Typing “The End” on the first draft of my eighth manuscript was something of a “moment”. I sort of feel there should be room here to include something about the seventh son of the seventh son and that fireworks should erupt. However, it was somewhat more sobering than that. It made me realise how long I’ve been working on my craft, creating stories and words and yet I still find myself lingering in the slushpile.
True, these days I’m getting “good rejections” – personal messages from agents or editors – and I take great encouragement from that. At the same time though, I also find myself thinking, especially as more and more of my peers land deals or agents, “Eight manuscripts? Eish! Just how deep does that slushpile go?!”
But what I’ve learned is this - I can write, and I write well (enough “good” rejections tell me this), so, what I need to do is write the right story and make sure it lands on the right desk at the right time. (Yes, I know, easier said than done - and assuming I haven't already done it and some lovely agent or editor currently reading Manuscript Number Seven isn't going to say, any moment now, "I love this! I want to represent you/publish your novel.")
In the journey to the Kingdom of Publication, I take heart from people like my lovely pal and critique partner, Candy Gourlay, who, in her recent acceptance speech for the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award said of her journey to publication:
“Friends who knew I was writing would ask, how’s it going? Are you published yet? They listened politely while I explained that it was not a quick process – probably thinking, she’s just not good enough. Which was exactly what I was thinking.”
Candy Gourlay and fan at the launch of her debut novel, Tall Story
In her speech, which I’d urge you to read, Candy also quotes Sara Zarr, a keynote speaker at the New York SCBWI conference.
"The time between when you are no longer a beginner but you are not yet in the business is the hardest ... and one of the biggest frustrations is: no one can tell you how long this phase will last."
Read Sara Zarr's speech here.
Frankly, with eight manuscripts under my belt, I’m hoping that it’s not going to be that much longer. I’m hoping that Manuscript Number Eight will be the right one, and that it will find the right desk at the right time. I guess the encouraging thing is that I already know there are agents out there who are interested in seeing what I’m up to. Here’s hoping that Manuscript Number Eight is it.
Yes, please, cross your fingers and your toes on my behalf, send positive vibes, invoke the deities of publishing etc.
And now please excuse me while I go and get started on my rewrites – spewing out 48 830 words in two weeks means there will need to be significant pruning, shaping and murdering of little darlings. Stand back, people, I’m armed and dangerous and I’m going in…