Last week, I pressed “send” on a project I’ve been working on for ten months. As any author can attest, those first five minutes after pressing send are some of the happiest minutes in your author life. No, really. That thing you’ve toiled away on is finally ready to send to your agent or editor, or both. The story you’ve crafted, the characters you’ve spent all your waking (and quite possibly dreaming) hours with, the plot you’ve, well, plotted, within an inch of its life - those elements have all come together, finally, and now resemble a book.
I wish there was some way to change that email “whoosh” to crowds shouting “huzzah” for special occasions like sending your work through cyberspace. It used to feel more epic - yes, kids, I’ve been doing this so long, I remember the days of heading to an actual mailbox to send queries. Having to put on pants. Get postage. Mingle with the public. Then, dropping the letters into the slot, taking a peek to make sure they actually went into the mysterious shadows of the mailbox. And while, yes, that made it more momentous, nothing can replace the convenience of being able to just “whoosh” your work to someone, without even leaving the house.
Now, back to those first five minutes.
The first overwhelming feeling for me is relief. I made a thing! It’s done! I can move from my computer chair and enjoy fresh air and sunshine! Then joy - joy that I created something with a beginning, a middle and an end. Joy that I’m in the revision phase - which might be my favorite part of the process. First drafting is akin to pulling teeth for me. It should be fun creating a whole new world, but it’s not, at least not at first. I don’t know what it is - I’ve puzzled over it.
The knowledge of how long it will take to turn blank pages into a novel?
How hard it is to work through plot snags you thought you already worked through?
Not knowing exactly where I’m headed, or maybe worrying how much all of it is going to change once I get notes on it?
It’s a combination of all of that, but this time, it was much more.
Not all drafts are created equal. For some reason, this one was rough to write. This was my third...yes, third...attempt at writing my fourth book. A book that is under contract - which admittedly, is a nice problem to have in some ways, and a horribly stress inducing problem in another, because there are no guarantees in this business. None.
Here are some personal stats:
It took me two years to write the first draft of The Promise of Amazing and get it to the point where my agent thought it was ready to shop around. Then once it sold, another six months of revisions with my editor. Debut year was overwhelming.
The Secrets of Attraction took eight months. Ugh, the first ending I had was awful. I’m not sure the second one was received that well, but Mads and Jesse forever, yo! I love them.
The Season of You & Me, from sale to copy edits took six months. In a business that’s notorious for moving at a glacial pace - this was pretty darn quick. And I felt it. To be honest, it burned me out a bit. Still, it worked. I did it. And I adore the finished product.
Book Four has taken three years...so far. One really failed attempt. One “almost there” attempt. A total scrapping of both of those manuscripts and coming up with something completely different. A full year of basically side-eying my computer, wondering where my muse had disappeared to, and many days contemplating if I even wanted to write anymore. That was scary. Somehow, I found my way to a story that I love so hard. There’s a playlist, there’s a mood board, I find myself daydreaming about what my characters might be doing. I felt none of that for the first two attempts, so I’m hoping that this is a good sign, that this one, is in fact the one.
And now the waiting, wondering and worrying begins because as I said above, there are no guarantees.
Yes, it’s been a week since I pressed send, and I find I’m still holding onto the joy. Catching up on reading. (The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman - it’s delicious!!) Catching up on tv and movie viewing. Napping. Enjoying autumn. Spending time with my family. And ssshhhhhh - I’m actually working on something NEW, but I can’t let my muse know I’m that excited about it or he’ll just take off and hit the beach or something.
I’m rewarding myself for writing, with writing.
That is a new thing for me. And it feels glorious.
Oh, and pumpkin spice. Time to indulge in ALL things pumpkin spice!