Thursday, April 13, 2006
Yesterday around 6:00 p.m., I finished reading through my 131,000-word novel manuscript, and I'm pleased to say that I whittled it down to about 113,000 words. During this six-week (or so) process, I did a fair bit of rewriting, actually, but nothing I'd call wholesale. (I should do a document compare and see sometime...) Anyway, I think it's pretty tight now. If an editor were interested and wanted more cuts, it would start to hurt. But I think the length is about right for a commercial novel, if I understand correctly.
It's a pretty big relief and sense of accomplishment. Writing the novel was fun, but it was also work, and I'd say it was more work than fun. I wish I could think of it as just a hobby, but I find it impossible to motivate myself to go to that much trouble unless I had some hopes of getting it professionally published and thinking of it as a career move. Right now, I have no intention of writing another one unless this one is successful to some sufficient degree.
Overall I feel quite good about the novel's quality, but my emotions go up and down about it. Sometimes I envision my agent getting several publishers interested and refereeing a bidding war. Other times I envision myself self-publishing it and trying to get a few stores to carry it on consignment. Sometimes I think it's really good, but other times I think maybe it's boring or flat in some way. I also worry a little about church or family members objecting to some of the content, but in the end I've got to be true to myself and my creation.
So when 9:00 rolled around last night, which is when I usually tried to start typing on the novel, I felt a sense of freedom, and I frittered away the evening just relaxing and reading magazines. On the other hand, although I have plenty of other writing/editing work to do, it feels weird not to have this compelling project demanding my attention anymore. Vocationally, I don't have anything else that engages me on that high a level of passion. It feels weird to think that 27 volunteer reviewers are (theoretically) reading it and forming their opinions, and I'm wondering how much feedback I'll get and how I'll feel about the novel as the comments start coming in.
I felt the manuscript was finished enough to send it to my agent as well. She wrote back right away and said she was printing it off to read this weekend. I offered to send her a paper copy, which would have taken a ream of paper and a trip to the post office, but she didn't take me up on it. She's the kind of agent who doesn't charge the author for postage and paper. Anyway, I wonder what she'll say, anywhere from "I'm gonna pass on representing this" to "I'm blanketing New York with it."
So now I have to write lots of text and gather hundreds of images for a big Mormon timeline book for a British publisher, who wants to go to press in October. This is going to take most all my free time this summer, so it's a good thing UVSC didn't give me a summer night class to teach. And I need to keep working on the Best of the Sugar Beet book, which is slated for release in October. The missionary memoir anthology I'm working on with Holly Welker is still in play but seems to have been scooted to the back burner for both of us. I'm not sure why; maybe because we have plenty of base hits but few if any homeruns. Even my own memoir piece for the collection is probably only a second- or third-base hit. I imagine we'll get our proposal together sometime...