notes

I finally hit ‘send.’ Hallelujah…

In writing on December 7, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I’ve been sitting on a query letter – well, let’s make that “countless versions of” a query letter – for my kids’ novel manuscript for close to a year.  I started trying to write the query even as I was still trying to finish up the last few chapters.

I have found it impossible – excruciating – to try to boil down the plot to something short and titillating and also shoehorn in a sense of the supporting cast of characters. Without them,  the book loses its appeal – for me, anyway. I’ve been an editor for so long that I’m usually hypercritical of my own work, but miraculously, I’m still enamored of the story and the people in it. But when I try to describe it, it sounds terribly dull.

So I wrote, deleted, wrote again and never could come up with something that both fit the formulas I see circulating on writers’ sites and also hit the high points of what I feel to be important about  my story. As a result, I’ve been sitting squarely on the fence for months, story on one side of it, and the world on the other.

Yesterday, I hemmed and hawed over yet another version of a query, and at long last, I pasted it into an email along with the first five pages of the manuscript. At 11:57 p.m., I hit the ‘send’ button and felt as if I had just won an Olympic medal or a Pulitzer Prize.

Not because I think I’m going to get a gushing call from the agent, begging me to send the rest of the story PRONTO.

I fully expect this first foray to generate my first rejection letter, but that didn’t matter in the least to me last night (or today) – I felt as if I should throw a party, just to celebrate getting off the fence. Shooting my story to the other side, out into the world.

These days, I always seem to be juggling a precarious succession of to-do’s, large and small, and it sometimes feels as I will never catch up. I’m a single parent of a gregarious, smart girl; I’m trying to make a living independently; and I’m trying to fit in a few extras that lie beyond those two big responsibilities … run, volunteer at my daughter’s school, write for myself, etc.  Often, I get a quarter, half or three-quarters of the way through a task or project only to be redirected to something else that’s more urgent.

So the idea of finishing is big for me these days. Finishing the manuscript for my book felt like an accomplishment as  important in its own way as if it already had won some big literary prize. And now finally taking the scary step of subjecting the story to the litmus test of publishing professionals’ review is another Big Life ‘finish’ I will always celebrate.

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