I finished PERFECT 10 in June, just a few precious days after summer vacation started.
Finishing a book always kind of sneaks up on me. I type the last line and think, "Oh my god. That was it. That was the end." (Yes, I type the last line last. I have Methods. I do not stray from those Methods. But more on that shortly.)
Then I sit there in shock for about an hour and message Erin or my friend and beta, Ann, on Skype and say, "I think I'm finished. Will you read it and tell me if I'm finished?"
(And I have to ask because even though I know when the book should end, there's always so much more in my head that I want to say.)
It takes a few days for the shock of finishing to wear off, and then I'm ready to work. I comb the manuscript once myself for spelling and grammar, and Ann does a round for me too. Then the hard part begins. Massive revisions. Tightening the writing, strengthening the characters, heightening the emotions. Sometimes it's as simple as removing all those pesky adverbs. Sometimes it's as difficult as merging scenes or completely rewriting. With PERFECT 10 I actually wrote out a giant chart, labeling each scene in each chapter. Then I defended it. If the scene wasn't necessary or it had the same purpose as another scene in the book, I dealt with it.
I moved quickly on this one because LeakyCon was coming up in July. Not that I didn't do a thorough job, I just worked my ass off. I didn't want to have something unpolished if I made connections with the agents there.
And I feel I did. So I'm sending queries out and waiting. You know, there are so many difficult things about writing. The actual writing itself, the sting of criticism, the fear of rejection.
But I think probably the most immediate thing for me is the waiting. It's all too easy to sink into that cliched pit of despair. (Cliches exist for a reason, and I defend my right to use them, albeit sparingly.) Every day you don't hear a response becomes another reason to suspect that the manuscript, the idea, the writing, etc etc etc just isn't good enough.
I'm at a point with my writing where I feel genuinely confident with it. I trust my voice, I trust my pacing, I trust that the characters in my head and the plots they've given me are rich and complete. I take criticism in stride now. But criticism is concrete. Unanswered responses are not concrete, and they tend to bring out your worst fears.
One of my dream agents, Sarah LaPolla, tweeted a link the other day, and just in the nick of time for me, so I thought I'd share. It's a blog by one of her clients, Michelle, and it gives you a few reminders to take to heart during this limbo period. It's a most excellent blog, and I can't wait to see Michelle's work on the shelves. (I'm especially looking forward to her book about Vincent Van Gogh, which she hasn't even started yet!) Do yourself a favor and read this post, and stick around for a while. She's got lovely thoughts on writing:
The Patience of Writing