Friday, 13 March 2009

As Good as It Gets

Okay. I wrote bits of a book. Some time later, I wrote other bits. I thought I had a book. But then again, I wasn't sure. I put it in a back drawer.

Several years later, I took it out again. I read it. It made me laugh. It made me cry a bit too. Hey, this book isn't so bad, I thought. This book might just be a real book.

I tidied it up. I tweaked it. I sent it off. One agent asked for the full manuscript. Two said no right off. The first agent wrote back saying they'd talked about it a lot but basically it didn't work. I put the book back in the drawer and sulked for a year or so.

I got the book out again. I read it. I still liked it. I still had the nagging feeling that something was missing. I sent it off for a literary critique. The author who critiqued it also had the nagging feeling that something was missing. She had the nagging feeling that a lot was missing. It was a very flawed book, she said.

I sulked for another year. Then I dragged myself on an Arvon course. Then another. On the second, one of the tutors made a couple of really helpful suggestions. I went home and wrote a new subplot for the book. It was undeniably better. But I wasn't sure. I was worried for my book. I didn't want to send it off again prematurely into the world.

So I waited. I worried some more. Then I tweaked it and sent it off for another literary critique, this time with a different agency. The nice lady said nice things about the book. She said it could be a real book. And she made some really helpful suggestions.

I've acted on those suggestions. I've written in new bits and I've gone over and over it until I don't think you can see the joins. I've read it through a hundred times. I've changed words in sentences over and over until the words swim and the sentences don't seem to make sense any more.

Today I finished. Today, I've finally had to admit that this book is as good as it's going to get. It's time for this little would-be book to go out and try and make its fortune.

And I am terrified.


Lorna F said...

I really feel for all you've been through - I've been through it all before and am currently at the stage where I have to accept no nice publisher is ever going to welcome my latest effort. But damn it, we obsessives just keep coming back for more punishment, no matter what! I wish you so much luck when you send your book out - and you are right to send it out. Go for it, girl. x

Lorna F said...

Oh, and I forgot to add - take a look at a recent post by Sally Zigmond at her blog, The Elephant in the Writing Room, about the tortuous route to publication of her novel, Hope Against Hope (I may have got the title wrong and I'm too rushed today to check it) - it's a horrific but ultimately inspiring story because she just refused to not give up and she found her publisher in the end.