After a dozen drafts, the first of which I started in March, I submitted my manuscript to my publisher this morning. It was accepted without his reading it. Is this guy a sucker or what?
I sent the manuscript to the editor of one my previous books, asking if she would edit the new one and she said “yes”.
I will now send the manuscript to a local historian and ask if she will review it for accuracy and authenticity; I have a lot of WWII stuff in the story. I will pay for the service.
I sent the manuscript to three friends to test the waters.
Now I’m worried.
It’s hard to let go of something that I’ve loved and hated for eight months. I’m worried that it will read like a Sweet Valley High Teen Romance Novel; I’m worried that I attributed a quote to General James Patton when I really meant General George Patton; I’m worried that readers won’t understand why I included a torture scene from Dachau Concentration Camp (it gave me a good ending); I’m worried that the IRS will refuse any of my expenses for the research trip to Europe because the book is a scam; and I’m worried that I used “your” where I should have used “you’re”.
But, if I expect my novel to be published, I have to let it see the light of day and parade it in front of several sets of critical eyes. If there’s a time for humiliation, it’s when it will remain between friends.
The bright side of letting it go for public review is now I can think about seeing my kids at Christmas. That will last about a week until my editor calls, needing a “little clarification” and then I’ll be back trying to figure out why I wrote what I wrote and what I really meant to write. Okay, well, I’ve been here before. She will find things that are opaque that I thought were perfectly clear. She’ll find a character never mentioned before, and it will a character whose name I changed three drafts ago, except for that single place. She’ll find a sentence that has 82 words and an untold number of sentences without verbs. I am in love with semi-colons.
One time, I accidentally deleted three chapters from one draft to the next. I didn’t notice for a month.
One time, I located Pittsburgh in Ohio.
One time, I accidentally deleted the back half of one chapter and the front half of the following chapter, and had put the two remaining halves together. My editor was finding the writing to be a little hard to follow before I figured out what I’d done. That’s one reason to keep all your drafts.
One time, I found 27 misspellings in the final draft because I forgot to run Spell Check. I hate failing on the easy stuff; it’s soooooo embarrassing.
One time, I misspelled my own name on the front page.
One time, I managed to reach the climax of the story in the first chapter, leaving the rest of the book surprisingly dull. It worked out though – I just moved the first chapter to the end of the book.
One time, I reviewed one of my books in print and realized that the blurb on the back cover was from the previous book.
So, I have more adventures to look forward to, but I will console myself with the idea that this is what it takes. If I want to be a writer, if I want to produce books that people enjoy reading, if I want to be showered in millions from my royalties, if I want to develop my craft to a point of satisfaction, then these are the things that I get to do.
Don Willerton has been a reader all his life and yearns to write words like the authors he has read. He's working hard at it and invites others to share their experiences.