Monday, November 26, 2012

When the end isn't the end

Last week, I had the giddy pleasure of typing "the end" on my current manuscript.

Well, that's not exactly what I typed.

This particular ending was a long time coming, and I'm too exhausted now to point out that I just wrote "coming."

I haven't addressed this on the blog yet, but those of you paying close attention may have noticed the third book in my romantic comedy contract hasn't hit shelves yet. Though my publisher had initially slated the release for August 2012 and I completed the manuscript in plenty of time, they suggested it wasn't the right third book for my career. I was given the option to release it anyway, or to start from scratch with a brand new book and a different release date.

My gut and my brain had differing opinions about the best course of action, and they wrestled long and hard in a pit of cherry Jello while wearing sequined g-strings and nipple tassels.

Which is how I ended up writing a new manuscript from scratch, and how I ended up sitting at my desk last week staring at those words through a blur of happy/sad tears.

Once upon a time, I thought a book deal might magically transform me into the sort of writer who'd reach the final line of a manuscript, type "the end," and immediately hand a spotless draft over to my gleeful editor. This fantasy may have also involved several male strippers and a wine dispenser mounted beside my desk, but let's not dwell.

The biggest lesson I've learned since I first accepted this three-book deal in February 2010 is that my fantasy couldn't have been more off-base if I'd thrown in a gang of monkeys clanging celebratory cymbals.

Which, come to think of it, would be pretty cool.

But that isn't reality, and I know now that typing "the end" is only the beginning. I still have an absurd amount of editing to do before I'd even consider letting anyone outside a mental institution have a look at this manuscript. After that, I'll hand it off to my three critique partners who will lovingly tear it to shreds. Once I've implemented their changes, the manuscript will go to my three longtime beta readers, who will point out all the ways my heroine is unsympathetic, my hero is a sniveling weasel, and the fact that my unclear pronoun usage makes it sound like the heroine is licking her own neck. After their changes are made, the manuscript goes to my agent for another round of feedback and polishing before she submits it to my editor.

And after all that, I know it's entirely possible my editor will say, "meh...it's not the right book for your career now."

I don't know what's going to happen, but I do know I can't let myself dwell on that.

I can choose to panic over the flogging my draft will take in the coming weeks, and the fact that it might be all for naught. Or I can choose to take this one step at a time, slow and steady, and to allow myself to celebrate milestones like typing "the end" without rolling my eyes and muttering, "far from it."

For the writers among you, how far is "the end" from "THE END?" For non-writers, what are some of the biggest lessons you've learned along the way in your chosen career path. Please share!

I have to see a man about a monkey.

11 comments :

Mary said...

Publishing is like one giant, confusing maze with roadblocks filled with hyper clowns and baboons scratching their asses. You have to go through so much just to get the agent then sell the book then actually get the book published (or not) and then you have to start most, if not all, of that process over again with another MS. *sigh*

However it goes, I'm rooting for you!

Linda G. said...

You KNOW how very far "the end" is from the "THE END" for me--you've seen enough of my early versions.

Also, I really want to THE END, MUTHAFUCKA on the one I hope you'll be sending me soon. ;)

Deborah Blake said...

How about I just insert *see author weep* here, and leave it at that. I had the delusion that getting an agent meant that I was finally THERE. Oh, hah. Book 1 didn't sell, despite the fact that it was rocking and we both loved it. Book 2 was only sent out to 2 editors, because my agent really didn't like it. Book 3 is still out on submission, but it's not looking good. Book 4 just got "THE END" and I have a few edits to integrate from my first readers...and no doubt A LOT MORE coming from my agent. And then this one gets sent out. Please send monkeys.

Patricia Eimer said...

Have you ever noticed all of us (writers I mean) when we get contracts are like "yes, I've done it, top of the mountain" and then we get into the job and we realize nope, no, we've just been transferred to a tougher mountain and told to climb it blindfolded in the snow?

Then again, none of us ever go back so maybe that just says we're either gluttons for punishment or this mountain range is better than say becoming a CPA.

Elizabeth Poole said...

As someone still working towards the "get an agent" milestone, this is a nice reality check. It really does seem like once you get an agent, it's all just a matter of time after that.

Yeah, not so much.

Thanks for the reality check, and good luck with your edits. I've got to get back to my own WIP, which is about halfway through the first "The End".

Unprofessional Critic said...

What Elizabeth said. I actually recently made the decision to stop submitting my last MS (which I'd worked on for three years) for consideration. I don't think it's good enough to be published, and I think it's gone as far as it's going to go. I'm grateful I had the experience of writing it, but I'm concentrating on another project now that just feels more "me".

Good luck with your edits, Tawna!

miaohdeux said...

^ I too am working on getting an agent!

Jess Huckins said...

Aw, no LET IT BREATHE? Well, fingers crossed for reading it eventually. And in the meantime, I'll be looking forward to whatever does come out as book #3!

Michelle Wolfson said...

I love you.

Aurelia Blue said...

I was explaining this process to my Grammy, who is my beta reader and of course, biggest fan, and she says, "Well I really hope you're like that lady wrote Gone With The Wind, and make a million dollars and never have to write again."

I was horrified. NEVER HAVE TO WRITE AGAIN??? But it does put all the crazy in perspective, doesn't it? I mean, this is how the non writing world sees the whole thing!!

Best of luck in all arena's. You know I'm a fan.

And to those of you, who like me, are in the agent search, and those who don't have agents who L<3VE their work, take note of the comment directly above mine. THAT'S WHAT AN AGENT SHOULD LOOK LIKE. Don't settle. Life and writing are hard enough.

{{{{{{{{{{supersisterwriterhugs}}}}}} to all.

Lauren said...

It sounds like raising kids. You think you've reached a milestone and then suddenly there's a new hill in front of you and sometimes you even slide back down the old hill a ways and have to hike back up. But still, when you stop and appreciate how far you've come it's a pretty nice feeling. You have to celebrate every small hill regardless of what's coming next. Preferably with wine.

The End