I finished a draft of my new manuscript last week. This is Novel 2 (titles are hard, I’m not ready to commit). If you follow along, you know that I like to print out my drafts and put them in a drawer for a while. Letting a draft rest is the single most important sign that I’m taking my work seriously.
That may sound a little backwards. I’m taking my work seriously by not working on it? Yes. I find I need at least a month away from a piece to be able to see it with any real perspective. And a fresh perspective is super important when it comes to editing.
While I’m spending time away, I give my beta readers a copy to dive into. The plan that has worked for me in the past is to schedule a lunch date with them (to get their thoughts on the work) about a week before I plan to get back to it.
Usually I love this period of time of stepping away. I spend a little more time with the kids. I tackle home projects that I put off while I was writing. I start playing with ideas for new stories. But this time is different. I’m super anxious.
A Strange Year
Maybe that shouldn’t be surprising. Everything is different in 2020. For one, I’m not hurting for time with my kids. We spend ALL DAY together, every day. Second, all those home projects? Yeah, they all got done a while ago. We’ve cleaned the garage, power washed the side yard where the dogs pee, organized the pantry. All of it.
The biggest difference for me this time around is that I sent the draft to my agents. (I have two agents who work as a team, one on the east coast, one on the west. Sometimes I think of them as one person and just say “my agent” but they are, in fact, two distinct people).
They’ve been asking to see it, but I wasn’t going to send them anything until I felt like the plot was solidly in place. This draft they got was draft three. It still needs a serious polish, but I’m really happy with the story.
Or at least I thought I was.
A day after sending it to them I started questioning myself. Should I have done another pass? Is it any good? What if they hate it? How long will it take to hear back? Is it a bad sign if they take a while, or are they compiling a thoughtful set of notes?
I’ve never done this before. And every agent is different, so there’s little to be gained by googling. Believe me. I tried. What I do know is that there’s no deadline on this, so anything they have on their desk that has a deadline is going to get their attention first. I need to be patient.
Patience is not an arena in which I excel.
The best solution is probably just to keep working on Novel 3. I get anxious when I’m not working. I don’t know why, but writing settles me. Maybe because it’s such a habit at this point. Or maybe it’s my way of creating a little sense in this world that in increasingly unspooling.
Whatever the reason I know it’s true: I just have to keep writing.
It is a blessing and a curse.