Taking a deep breath, after sitting to a cup of coffee with Browne and King, I came to some decisions this morning. I will use these days of snow, quiet and what I thought was monotony to regroup. Having sent out a couple of manuscripts I’d been ready for the magical words- “We would love to publish your book Theresa Varela!” This didn’t happen but some other things did.
Instead of receiving all form letters I received a couple of glowing letters of rejection. This was a big step for me. Some editors read my pages and decided that my novels weren’t the right fit for their houses or still needed to be worked upon. One suggested that after I revise that I might think about letting them see my manuscript again. My plan of being in a 2012 line-up was thwarted. So I had to think about how I would accomplish my goals after having received much desired feedback. I don’t know if the editor or agent who takes the time to send suggestions and clues toward a better manuscript can truly know how much of a gift that can be.
I reviewed my manuscripts and could see exactly what the editors saw. I hadn’t been able to do that on the nights I sat scrambling at the keyboard. The ideas, plots and devices all wanted to be placed on paper. I heard the voices and let them speak through my fingertips. The unruly children in my brain coursed through the playground, lunch, music time and snack without me using better judgment. I never had them lay down for midmorning naps.
One editor suggested Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. When I read her email I looked up and saw that it was at eye level on one of my book shelves. I’d read it before in the pursuit of fine fiction writing. Now that I’ve finished my manuscripts I know exactly what the authors mean by ‘showing and not telling’ and ‘proportion’.
Meeting with my writing group during the initial stages of one manuscript was helpful as to the development of the characters. We didn’t actually help each other edit, since we hadn’t yet arrived at that phase. Summer and visions of lolling on the beach and slurping Italian ices prevailed. Fortunately we are back from our lengthy hiatus.
This period that I call “Post Rejection Blues” is something different than the usual for me. It’s a pretty and tranquil shade this time. I am listening to the experts and taking suggestions. I’ve also deleted full chapters. While initially painful I realize it’s important for me as the writer to know the background of some characters. The reader doesn’t have to know the details if I do my job in executing the action. They will ‘get it’ if I succeed in the writing.
For some reason, although this is all still writing, I feel as though I’ve been afforded a respite. A time to regroup, rewrite and revise. I’m looking at the woods at the back of the house as I contemplate all of this. The snow is deep and many of the trees limbs are quite bare. On one level it all seems quiet and barren. At a deeper level it is one of dynamic inner growth. The leaves and the flowers will flourish-when the timing is just right.