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Words for Writers: Schrödinger’s Author

This is another entry in my series about the odd journey about being a published author with no agent.

This week has been an odd one for me. I’m about 9 000 words away from finishing my NaNoWriMo novel, and, I hope, the whole manuscript as well. I’m happy with the plot, and really enjoy spending time with my MC, though I keep catching myself writing things too early; like, a turncoat character was meant to be shot at the climax, and ended up being shot significantly earlier to save my heroine. Now I wonder – can I shoot him again?

(My brain goes, “No, swords are cooler!” I feel sorry for the bastard, I’ve already set him on fire, too.)

And I know that the back half of the book, instead of being a series of events that pressure and weigh on my heroine until she finally snaps and agrees to the one thing she’s been trying to avoid throughout the book to bring the book to its climax, is just a …rather blah series of events. But, as my friend and I have come to laugh to each other when we’re feeling punchy from too much tea and writing, “That’s what January is for.”

So while the manuscript is not where I’d like it to be, it is nearly done, and the editing stage awaits, so I am excited and confident, because this is the first fiction novel I’ve finished since about February 2008.

And now I’m in a strange limbo place of being both accepted and rejected at once.

I feel like Schrödinger’s Author.

Several days ago I was informed that an essay I wrote in 2008 has been accepted to appear in an academic reader in 2011/2012. Right now I can’t say more than that, not until the official announcement has been made. I’m not concerned about the state of that, because my argument hasn’t much changed since I wrote it, and I’ve had a fantastic and critical expert look over it since. I am confident that it will only take a weekend’s worth of work to get it up to snuff, and feel very proud that I will have my first wide-scale essay publication.

So, I am extremely overjoyed. I am really looking forward to having a “real” article out there on my favourite pet topic. But at the same time, I had my heart set on participating in a contest where agents are exposed to unsigned authors. I worked very very hard on my entry and was extremely excited when I got through the first found, and more crushed than I expected I would be when I didn’t go further.

It’s strange, because logically I know that everything is subjective, that there were dozens of other entries they had to sort through, that perhaps there were so many entries in my genre that they had to be ruthless, that perhaps my story just did not appeal to the personal tastes of the slushers. And I can deal with that, because I am a well adjusted adult who has come to understand that when the publishing industry rejects you, it’s not personal.

I look forward to spending the time going through the entries of the people who DID get through, and reading what other people have poured their hearts and souls and time into. I am especially excited because I know they, like me, must have worked their bottoms off to get it to the level they did, and must have been just as thrilled and relieved as I was disappointed that they got in. (Though, I will maybe in the future request a little blurb about why my piece was rejected, exactly. Can’t improve if you don’t know!)

And it’s confusing, how I should feel right now. Happy, because I sold the essay. Unhappy, because I didn’t make it into the contest. Happy, because getting rejected from the contest means that I have more time to work on the novel, and happy that I was given the opportunity to know that there’s some element of my query that isn’t working before I start sending it to agents. Unhappy, because I have a lot of editing to do on the essay. (Happy because that new research will involve watching copious amounts of my fave TV show).

And over all of that, a strange sort of bemusement because I’m knee deep in marketing strategies for TRIPTYCH, which as you know, has already sold.

So anyway, that’s where I am right now. Schrödinger’s Author.

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For more posts on the business and craft of writing, search my Words for Writers tag.

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