…who is currently responsible for all of my problems right now. Well, not all. A few, I guess. Remember that little partial that I was complaining about for weeks? And that I was too chicken to send off to my editor directly so sent it to my agent first? Being the super-woman-super-agent that she is, got back to me the same night with a reply…
She loved it-but felt the first few pages weren’t necessary. So she suggested I re-work the opening, but said it was just a suggestion. Of course, I went and flipped open the document, re-read it, and thought, D’OH! why didn’t I think of that?? She was so right. I emailed her back and said of course I’ll change it-and have it back to you by the end of the week. I guess tomorrow is technically the end of the week. This is going to be a short post, because well, I need to get back to this.
As I was reading through the first few pages again, all I kept thinking was how could I have missed that the opening of this book was really just the thoughts and inner musings of this man? I’ll tell you why-he’s very charming. Deceptively charming. And he says and thinks a lot of very clever things. And quite handsome. I think I had a little too much fun writing him.
So now, he makes his appearance on page 4…and we begin with action-because my heroine is a force to be reckoned with herself. This proposal will be officially gone again as of tonight. And then I really will be heading back to that other, um, book that my agent asked about…
I don’t know why I find them so difficult to commit to. I keep going over the first three chapters and rethinking everything I’ve written, I question motivations, reactions and dialogue. I wonder if I’ve started the story in the right spot, if there’s enough action, if it’s enticing enough to make the reader (or editor) want to keep reading.
Those first three chapters are make it or break it, really.
You’re introducing your characters, their conflict, the premise. Maybe that’s why I can’t seem to say, “okay, these chapters are ready to go!” And I can’t finish the book without having a polished partial. I mean I can leave little grammar type of editing for the end, or if I have to go and add some details that I realize are necessary once the manuscript is done, but everything else must be there.
When I think about it, I judge a book by the time I’ve finished the first three chapters. Especially if it’s a new author. By that point you’ve gotten a good idea of the author’s voice and whether or not the story is unfolding slowly or quickly, if you like the characters, if you like the dialogue…a lot.
I love when I discover a book that’s so good I just can’t put it down…and ultimately that’s what I’d like to write as well!
Well, there is nothing as humbling as pursuing publication. Really…well, besides hospital stays where any modesty you ever had is gone…but that’s another post…
When you’re putting your work out there for someone else to evaluate, words and characters that you’ve put together in the wee hours of the night (or morning) and no one has seen them but you, it can be pretty scary. After all, your characters may say things that make you laugh out loud or snicker or cry, but that’s you…and maybe you’re crazy. Right? Don’t you ever wonder, “am I the only one that thinks this is good?” And despite how real your characters are to you, you ARE still laughing by yourself in an empty room…
And then when you finally get up the nerve to let your characters out into the big, bad world, they get sent back to you. Sorry. Not good enough.
So, last week or maybe the week before, I emailed my new manuscript to my agent. Now, I haven’t signed on that long ago with her, so this process is still new to me. And this is only the second book she’s seen from me, so I was um…a *little* nervous. And yes, I did have those daydreams where she calls me up and says “I don’t know what I was ever thinking signing you…you don’t know how to write!” It really is a tough business. Much tougher than even the *craziest* brides I’ve dealt with in my past life.
This weekend she sent me a quick email saying she read my manuscript and can we chat. Immediately I inhale as though horrific news has just arrived. I was sitting in the car beside DH, and the kids in the back seat, staring at the email, looking for a hint that maybe she liked it.
Here’s how my conversation with the DH went:
DH: “What’s wrong?”
ME: “She read it. And she wants to talk.”
DH: (looking very confused at my reaction): “So?”
ME (Me shocked that he’s not following my train of thought): “She didn’t say anything. That means she hates it, or there’s big problems.”
…anyway the conversation went circular from there so I’ll spare you the rest.
But that night I did speak with my agent and she liked it! She talked about my characters (like they were real people and laughed too-see we’re not crazy!) She also spoke about some moments that she really liked, that were emotional…
It made my night. Really. I got off the phone feeling like maybe I can really do this…