Yesterday I finished the first full draft (and it isn’t exactly a rough draft) of The Schneebelis Come to America — real title The Price. I like it and what I like best is that the ending is actually true.
Now I’m in the next phase of this whole writer’s adventure. I’ve been here before, lots of times with some close calls that you might call marginal success. I’m beginning the process of putting together a submittal package in hopes of finding a literary agent who will want to represent my book.
Every writer wants to publish a book that people buy. All my books so far have been self-published which has some distinct advantages to me, but — except for the hiking book — self-publishing was the end result of rejection and other things like a publisher going out of business and another publisher changing their mind and an agent not performing. In every case (except with the hiking book) I just reached a point where I didn’t want to try for conventional publication any more. Besides that, I like designing my books.
Rejection also has at least as much to do with the market and perceived saleability of a story as it does with the author’s actual writing. Probably more. All of my books have won prizes — a couple of them have been hard-won and prestigious awards. I’ve learned that lots of things can happen that don’t have anything to do with how well a book is written. But, as this story is about Amurica, I think it might have a better shot than my other books which are about obscure places in a tiny country many people confuse with Sweden.
The big challenge of a submittal package is being able to see your work from OUTSIDE yourself (and it) and writing about it as if you were a reader, not the writer. It’s amazing how difficult it is to do this, just to say, in a few sentences, what the book is about. I don’t think I’m the only writer who, faced with that question, says, “I don’t know.” You get so entangled in the lives of the characters that their lives are almost YOUR life. What would I say if someone said, “Hey, Martha, what’s the central theme of your life?”
“Uh, it changes.”
“Yeah, but there must be a POINT. What does your life SAY?”
Seriously, it’s like that. It would be interesting if we went to someone’s funeral and the officiating person said, “And so, the moral of Lamont’s life is XYZ.”
In any case, having been through this (grueling and strange) process so many times now, and having experienced several different levels of disappointment over the years (most important, disappointment with myself for submitting a manuscript before it was as good as it could be and killing its chances, sort of like cutting off your legs and going out for track) I’m older and wiser. I will go through this, hope for the best and realize there’s no losing, anyway.