NaNoWriMo update: the waiting game
At the moment of this writing, I'm holed up a a hotel in Virginia -- I'd like to say it's for authorish reasons-- like, I'm shut away from the world so I can work on my latest masterpiece, or pulling all-night editing session. But I can't.
Truth is, it's raining outside. A lot. I'm en route to North Carolina for back-to-back speaking gigs at Wonderland Book Club and WriteNow! 2014, and the weather is not cooperating. So given that my car isn't a suitable flotation device and I'm a wuss when it comes to thunderstorms, I'm waiting for the wrath-of-whatever-from-high-atop-the-thing to end its rant.
It occurred to me that it's been awhile since I last updated you on the status of my NaNoWriMo novel (and I like that this is simultaneously turning into a bit of an anatomy-of-a-novel series), and now would be a good time.
In short, I spent most of the winter months revising the manuscript. I recruited three beta-readers (all females this time around, although I usually like to get the guy's perspective as well) who gave me excellent feedback. I find it interesting when readers all hone in on the same spot(s) in terms of what needs work, and sometimes it's a scene or chapter that, for me, was working pretty well (until they get me to see it from their point of view). From there I worked even further to iron out the kinks they highlighted, and further strengthened what already worked.
I had set a self-imposed submission deadline of April 1st, but didn't submit the manuscript to the publisher until mid-April. My goal is to get the manuscript as close to publication-ready as possible when I submit, although I knew this manuscript still needed the keen eye of my developmental editor. (That's my way of saying the manuscript still needs a bit of work.) Many of you have probably heard the phase (threat?) "publish or perish" uttered in academic circles -- I believe it exists in the world of commercial fiction too, only I think the pressure is self-inflicted. It's a tough balancing act -- as authors, we don't want to let our readers down, and we don't want them to wait too long between books (or is this just our egos not wanting to be forgotten?); however, we also don't want to rush quality. I'd rather my readers tell me my book was worth the wait than reading it sooner and being disappointed with what clearly reveals a rush job.
So, where does that leave me (and my manuscript)?
I'm waiting to hear from my acquisitions editor, and hopefully it will be good news. Past publishing successes don't automatically guarantee you carte blanche -- a manuscript can still be rejected for any number of reasons. Rather than turn my attention to a new/existing project in the interim, I've decided to take a little time off. Clear my head. Read other people's manuscripts. Catch up on my fellow authors' works as well. Spend time with family. I think it's good for the creative process to take breaks. Sometimes an extended break is the best kind. On the outside, we may seem to be doing nothing. But trust me, something's cooking up there in my head. Even when I don't know it.
As a result, I've not been on Facebook or Twitter much (cue Simple Minds's "Don't You Forget About Me"). I seem to be at my social networking best when I'm procrastinating in my responsibilities. Or maybe time off is time off -- from everything. (Social networking is part of my job, after all.) I won't be gone for long.
Meanwhile, although the view outside my hotel window is gloomy and wet, the view inside my head is bright and dry (see photo below). Not to mention tranquil. And somewhere in that picture, two characters (who probably have no business being together) are walking and talking.
That's a good place to be.
I'm an author of commercial women's fiction and a writing instructor. My claim to fame: I can say the alphabet backwards.