Thursday, October 05, 2006


Writing is about waiting.

Maybe I hadn't had to wait that much for a request for a full, but my training in patience was about to begin.

Typically, I received the request for a full MS before I'd actually finished the book in question. This is a bit of a trend for me. Every time I swear it's the last, but I hit that 70 - 80% complete stage and start to yen for producing and sending a query... As an aside, I think it helps me to frame the editing phase of a book to put together a blurb, synopsis, and polish the first three chapters. When I need to learn, apparently, is not to send said work until I'm done.

But never mind.

I'd planned to finish McAllister's Wife over Christmas 2002. But Christmas held too many good things offering distration, so I pulled out all the stops, shamefully abused the good nature of my CPs, and the full MS went to Silhouette on 12th January.

And I started waiting.

I knew from the boards that most form Rs from the Silhouette office at the time were coming out at about four months. If you made it to six, you were doing good.

But if you made it to six months, you were probably going to wait a lot longer.

I waited some more. I was good. I seem to remember I queried progress at about 7 months, and heard it had been passed on to another editor.

A year passed. I reached that stage where I got to laugh hollowly at newbies who complained about a four month wait. "Psshaw!" I would say. "You think THAT's a long wait???!"

Now, I should probably say here that I have never really resented long waits in publishing. I resent form Rs much more. At this time (we're in 2003 now) there was a lot of anger on writing discussion boards about waiting on responses and how 'ridiculous' it was. Some effort was made to resolve the problem. People started hearing back a lot sooner.

In Form Rejection letters. There was a lot of anger about those, too.

You see, to me, the equation's obvious. You want a detailed response, you wait. You want a Form, you don't wait so long.

Because we have to remember that finding new talent is a small - a small - part of an editor's job. And it's rarely, if ever, a top priority. Enough has been said on this one that I don't need to go on, but I think it's important to note I'm not complaining about the wait, k?

That's not to say it didn't bother me... *g*. There were times I was pulling my hair out, and halfway through the wait I convinced myself I was kidding myself that I might sell a book to a US publisher, and started writing (and eventually submitted and received a rejection for) something else entirely.

Then, fourteen months after the submission of that full MS, I received a call.

They loved it. I mean, they really loved it. They wanted me to revise some things and resubmit asap.

Can we say ecstatic? Can we say, incandescent, overjoyed, euphoric?

I rattled off the revisions and posted out the new MS. I was so excited! People were e-mailing me to tell me that I was Nearly There, how great it was, how happy they were. I had booked to go to the RWA Conference in NYC that year, and in my secret, most private moments, I dreamed of wearing my pink ribbon to that shindig.

My birthday came. And then, about a month later, so did my MS. In fact, both of them, the original and the revised, were handed to me by our postman one May morning in 2003. I had to sign for it, because the package was damaged, but I couldn't really see where I was signing.

It was, of course, a rejection. Michelle very wisely tells people that any MS has to please several editors. Mine had pleased two, but the third and final one quite rightly pointed out a few solid flaws the others hadn't seen.

*Engage Understatement Mode* It was kind of painful.

But I thanked the editor for her advice, and offered to revise immediately. No, they said, try something new. So I did, and by June I had another request for a full under my belt.

About this time, I developed a thyroid problem, which made my memory of much of the next two years rather hazy. I remember I cancelled a doctor's appointment in June because I didn't want to be told to take thryoid medications that would possibly make me too ill to go to NYC.

Reluctantly, I packed McWife away in a box on a bottom shelf, and started packing for Nationals.

It was funny, because under the circumstances, I might have had a horrible time.

I had one of the best times of my life.

Some of that was meeting friends I'd only ever spoken to over the net, like Rae and Dee. Some of it was arriving in style with Kate Walker, and rooming with the celebrated Bat Dame, Ann. Some of it was the city I immediatley loved, when I'd expected to loathe it.

It was at that conference that I heard Jenny Cruisie say that there's no such thing as Nearly There... you're either there or you're not. Published, or not.

She was so, so right.

Next Post:- The Many Faces of McWife


At 2:37 pm, Anonymous mary beth said...

This is so great, Anna. Thanks for sharing.

At 8:53 am, Anonymous Julie Cohen said...

It was so great, that conference, wasn't it?


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