The last time I shopped my novel around, I sent it to a local Victorian publishing house specialising in young adult fantasy. They read the book, sent me a report on its pros and cons, and expressed an interest in seeing it again once I’d made some structural edits. As I agreed with about 98% of the constructive criticism, I set to work. This was back in early October 08, or so Gmail informs me. Anyhow, in a burst of creative energy, I finally finished this evening. It’s odd to think that the bulk of the task was actually completed this week, at the end of my holiday – sure, the biggest, newest, longest bit went in last year, but otherwise, I’ve pretty much ploughed on through since last Sunday night. And now it’s done, and I’m happy with the results. Extremely happy – not just because I feel like my writing is right on track, but because the publishers have confirmed their interest in seeing it again.
Which means I’m submitting tomorrow.
My job starts up again in the morning. In between the getting-back-into-the-swing-of-things and work-doing, I shall make my way stealthily to the printer. I will replicate my manuscript on paper. Lovingly, I will place it in a plain, purloined envelope. As always, I will touch a finger to my lips, rest it lightly on the cover page and then, unable to help myself, repeat the gesture twice, because if there’s one superstition I cling to, it’s that good things come in threes, and must therefore be encouraged by threes. And then I will send it off, and wait, with heart in mouth.
It may well get turned down. I’m ready for that. Well, no, I’m not – that is, in point of fact, a baldfaced lie. As before, there’ll be one soaring moment when I sight the crucial email and my whole internal infrastructure will clench, waiting; and then, as I read the reply in the negative, I’ll feel something burrow into me, devouring and deep. Only for a moment. It can’t be helped. But then, I’ll smile and move on, knowing that, if nothing else, my novel has come out all the stronger for the experience, and that I am stronger, too. And if the answer comes back yes? I have no idea. But I suspect shrieking will be involved.
In between now and whenever this is, I’ll develop a curious anxiety towards my phone. Any unfamiliar number will send a tingle of anticipatory fear through my hand, as though the buttons were humming. I’ll check it madly, pedantically, when I usually ignore the thing for days on end. I’ll carry it with me compulsively, reaching down to touch it, make sure it’s safe. These reactions are all ludicrous: whether the book is good or not, they won’t help me a jot. But I do them. They are my rituals. They anchor me to something more practical, more tangible than anxiety.
I’ve written a lot already this year, given that it’s only the 11th of January. I’ve read three books, too, and taken something valuable from each one. The other night, for the first time since I first picked up a pencil with an idea to storytelling, I jotted down an idea from beginning to end, sculpted characters, scenes and scenarios without so much as a single guiding name in my head. If you’re not me, that probably makes no sense. But for years, I lead with character names; from them came the characters themselves; from the characters, a scenario; from the scenario, a story. The fact that I’ve suddenly learned this process in reverse thrills me, as did the spontenaity of its execution. I feel like my writing has kicked up a gear with the turning of the annum; or maybe I’m only just noticing what’s been there for a while. But either way, I’m confident now if I never was before: that I can write. I will be a published author.
Maybe not this time around. But someday. Soon.