Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Zing...

I was thinking the other day that it might be possible that I’m a masochist. Now, don’t go all kinky on me… I’m talking in terms of writing.

I recently finished a proposal that I’m excited about. I let loose a “girl in the basement” and after writing the synopsis and the first sixty pages I’m not 100% satisfied with where it is. But I know after another hundred passes it should be okay. This for me is pretty impressive. I have hard time not thinking everything I write sucks. So to think I might eventually get there… well done me!

I let my brand new shiny critique partner read it (thank you Karen!) and took some of her excellent advice. Actually all the advice was excellent but some things I’m stubborn about and so there it is. The first book will feature Penny… sorry Karen.

Then I send it off to the agent. You have to see what she thinks right? You want to know if she thinks it can sell? Maybe given my writing history a proposal will be enough for some editors. But let’s at least see, before killing myself to finish the book, if anyone possibly might think the idea has merit.

You wait and wait. You check email two hundred times a day even though you know she told it would be a week before she could read it. You obsess. We writers know all about obsession.

Then on that 201st try when you refresh your email… there it is. The email from your agent. Your gut drops. You’re heart picks up speed. You look away – not ready to deal with the news if it’s … “Oh wow I’m sorry, but I just don’t think something like this is marketable/sellable/good….”

But what if it isn’t? What if it’s… “Oh my, this is the best thing ever and will sell sell sell!”

So despite being completely frantic about waiting for this email, now that it’s arrived you can barely stand to open it.

And it’s not just with a proposal to an agent. It’s any part of the submission process. Queries. Proposals. Full requests. Each time that email comes you wait to click on it because you know your happiness (at least for the next hour) hangs in the balance of what it says.

I thought about how horrible it felt to be hanging on the edge of that abyss. And I thought about how great it was too. I love that little zing of thrill. I love the expectation that maybe this time it’s GOOD news. Even though most of the time it’s the opposite.
I really believe it’s part of the joy of writing. The storytelling, the characters, the sense of completion when you finish a book… all good.

But that zing when the email comes… also pretty awesome.


Molly O'Keefe said...

so what did your agent say?????

A writing teacher of mine from college said that when things seem particuarly hard or disheartening - put good news in the mail. Enter contests, submit article ideas etc... because while you can't be sure it will be good news, it can never be good news unless you put it out there. And yes, that moment when you see your editor or agents name in the from box is always a zing.

Karen W said...

Helloooooo? You can't leave it like that. What did your agent say?

Stephanie Doyle said...

Oh... she loved it! Sending it out next week as is. But we all know that's just hurdle 1 of about 100 hurdles to go!

Molly O'Keefe said...

Look at you all casual...congrats!! That first hurdle is a big one!!!

Stephanie Doyle said...

I've been doing this to long to get my hopes up. So until there is announcement in Publisher's Marketplace... it's all just tiny steps.

But at least I know what I'm going to be working on over Memorial Day weekend.

Eileen said...

Way cool, Steph! I know it's only the first hurdle, but it's still a big one.

I am dancing on the edge of the abyss right now and have been for close to two months. I've been trying not to think about it, but it invades my dreams and twists up my stomach at odd moments. I know I'll have that exact ZING! moment when I finally see the e-mail or my phone rings.

No matter how I feel about the work, it doesn't seem to count until someone else validates it (or doesn't).

Stephanie Doyle said...

Eileen - here is wishing you a call or an email today...

On a side note I'm 1/2 way through Messenger and this book rocks. Really love the voice and the premise I think is genius.

Way to go.

Eileen said...

Oh, Steph, you're a doll! Thank you! I so enjoyed writing that one.

Maureen McGowan said...

That wait and the zing are such a huge part of this business, aren't they!

One thing I didn't understand until I had an agent, was that in many ways hers are the scariest e-mails to wait for. Because it's not so easy to say, "Oh, it's just one person's opinion," if it's your agent who doesn't like someone.

I'm waiting on news, too. **checks e-mail** It really is one of the horrible/wonderful things about this process.

Good luck with your proposal, Stephanie!!! Fingers crossed.

Maureen McGowan said...

Eileen, I'm about 2/3 of the way through Don't Kill the Messenger and loving it, too. (And not just saying that because I want to be a doll, too. ;)

Eileen said...

Maureen, if you don't want to be my doll, you shall be my sweetheart! I've gotten such great feedback (and reviews) on that one, it's really been a joy.

Karen W said...

Yay Steph! You go girl! I'm so happy your agent likes it and now I'm hoping your next thing will be a phone call with "They want to make an offer!" Or, even better, Two houses are bidding on this!

I'm so happy for you.

Eileen and Maureen, I hope you both get similar calls as well!

Me, I'm not waiting on news, just breaking my neck to finish a book that's due June 1st. So yes, I also know what I'm doing over the holiday.

And finally, I too am halfway thru Don't Kill the Messenger and really enjoying it. You have an awesome voice, Eileen. The heroine is pretty cool! Just sayin', not sucking up or anything !

Eileen said...

You are all my sweet pumpkins! I toast you all!

Maureen McGowan said...

Oh, I like being a sweet pumpkin!

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