Last Saturday night, during dinner of left-over Chinese food, my husband asked me about my writing and if I’ve heard from my agent, adding with great, walking-on-eggshells care, “You haven’t mentioned any of it in a while…and you seem so calm lately.”
Translated: Thank God you took a break from all that. You are so much easier to live with.
Let me step back a bit, a few months ago, I told my agent that I was taking a break from revising the current project that we had been working on…I gave a really good and valid reason: I’m taking a class and doing an internship right now and need to focus on that. I will have the whole summer to finish the revision and get it back to her.
Legit and solid plan. Not to mention, excellent for my mental health. This particular manuscript was already on its 6th or 7th rewrite, and I had at least one or two more to go. Artistically, I needed a break…hell, mental health-wise I needed a break.
So, back to our dinner conversation…
I looked everywhere but at him. Pile of dirt dishes in the sink. Senior citizen cat attempting to clean himself. A piece of crusted over jam on the table from breakfast that morning.
It got so quiet that the only sounds were chewing and silverware clinking noises…and the cat still trying to lick his hindquarters.
I finally made an mmmmhmmm noise. But then all the noises stopped. He was waiting. He wanted more. He knew there was more.
So I put my fork down and I whispered, staring at that damn spot of jam, “I’m afraid.”
Then I finally looked up at him, and he nodded, understanding in a way that only a spouse of 16 years, and a partner of 22, can.
That’s all we really said.
But it got me thinking.
I AM afraid to go back at it with this manuscript. And, I have been a lot happier since I stopped working on it.
I’m 39 years old, with 16 years of experience in the writing and publishing arena; I’m no longer doe-eyed about this process. I’m f@#$ing tired.
My ultimate goal as a writer is to be published. I’ve achieved that. My ultimate, ultimate goal, is to get a book deal—not for the money or fame—‘cause FYI, there’s none of either in publishing unless you are already famous. No, I’ve wanted it for a kind of validation and yes, a reward for hard work done.
So what am I afraid of in terms of revising this particular piece? That this time will be the time that I give up. That I will revise this manuscript (number 5 of 10 total) and that this rejection will be the one that ends it for me. The one that makes me give up… because I’m f%$*ing tired and because I like being happy, which I have been for the last few months, for the first time in so long because I haven’t had the albatross on my back of revising and knowing that most likely the revision won’t lead to a yes.
Oh and you should know this…these three months of not revising have included other writing-related things. I submitted another manuscript to a contest. I republished one of my self-published Maddie books. I started this blog. I know exactly why none of that made me feel depressed: I didn’t do any of those things with the hope or dream of book deal in mind. My intention with all of those things was to simply share my voice with others.
It’s not writing that makes me feel like shit. It’s constantly revising towards something that I don’t really know exactly what it is… and then getting rejected. Writing with the intention to get a book deal has started to wear on me. I’ve been telling myself all these years, this is just part of the process and most writers take a while to get their first book published. All of that is true, but it does not take away from what I feel and how this whole thing has affected me.
And yet, my plan is to go back to that manuscript, revise the sh$t out of it, submit to my agent, fingers crossed…and stay in therapy the whole time : )