Friday, August 15, 2008

Random Thoughts on a Friday

The waiting is the hardest part of writing.

Ask anyone. It's not that difficult to pound out a bunch of pages. If you have a story to tell, you're probably pretty excited to write it and you have characters you want to visit and stuff you want to describe. So you set yourself a deadline and give yourself a goal and voila! A few months or a year later, you have a story.

And then you wait.

Because you can't rewrite immediately. You need to give yourself a few weeks or a month or more to let the story settle and to let your love of your own words evaporate so you can return with fresh eyes and rewrite the darn thing. As we all know, everything needs to be rewritten. So you do this and you rewrite and you send it to a trusted friend for him to read.

And then you wait some more.

The friend has this material and it's not the number one thing in his life. I know it should be, but it's not. He has his own life and his own things and he may like you an awful lot because you're cute and funny and he likes hanging out with you but he really does need to go to work and maybe take care of the family pet and watch some of the Olympics.

Try to put it out of your mind. Try not to imagine where your friend is and what he's doing while he has your material. Try to stop thinking about emails you could send him that might remind him of you. He knows he has your material. He'll get to it.

Of course you're thinking what I'm thinking which is, "Is it any good or have I wasted my time? Am I a lot worse than I thought I was? Is this the most horrible novel that's ever been written?"
The answer from your friend is not nearly as bad as all that. Not usually. Sometimes it is but you should probably already know when that's going to happen. As the creator, sometimes you get blinded by your own vanity but eventually, you too will recognize when you've written crap. Instead, your friend likes pretty much all of it except for a few things that confused him. So you exhale, finally, and do a little more rewriting before you send it to your agent.

And then you wait some more.

The agent loves you, she really does, but you haven't written a bestseller that needs to get out to the world RIGHT NOW. You've written a good story. And you hope she likes it enough to send it out. Maybe she needs a few tweaks; maybe it's good as it is. She sends it to some editors.

And then you begin a massive wait.

And these are NOT people to whom you can post a quickie email like, "Hey, did you happen to..." No. Not. At. All. You have to suck it up and work on something else to keep your mind occupied. Bugging your agent won't work because she knows these people way better than you do, which is to say, you don't know them in the least. She will keep up, follow-up, and then step up when they are not being responsive. That's not your job. You go back to the computer and think up new stories - better stories - bestseller stories - while you wait because truly, this is not a bestseller you have written, although you always think Maybe this is the one.

No. It's not.

Most of the time the answers will be rejections. That's simply the law of averages. Most people - agents and editors - will turn you down. But eventually one person - one agent, one editor - won't. You will think this is the best thing that's ever happened to you in your entire life and up until that moment, it is. But even after you do more rewriting and you go through draft after draft with your editor and publisher and you discuss titles and cover art and they explain why your ideas suck and they're going with their marketing department's ideas instead, it finally gets printed and shipped and guess what?

Yep. You wait. Because now your readers have to find you and read you and blog about you and recommend you - or not - to their friends.

This happens every single time. It doesn't change once you've finished a book, or secured an agent, or even if you've been published before. Because after each book you write, each draft you finish, you always ask, "Is it any good?"

I'm still waiting.