Thursday, April 07, 2005
How I Got Here, Part 30
Sheesh, we’ve reached the Big 3-O. Happy over-the-hill days, y’all.
I received a great e-mail from a BG yesterday. She told me how my determination through publishing perils had encouraged her to take out an old manuscript and dust it off. Now she’s rewriting and seeing its improvement. I told her, “Go, girl!” So glad this recounting encouraged her. That’s the whole point of the story—to let you writers out there know you’re not alone. Rejection happens to everyone. And you can make your way through it.
Comments, comments: Ron, you’re right about that cop and the murder scene. How awful. But what an opener for a story. As for your wife seeking help for you—my family gave up on me long ago. C.J., you asked if there’s something I do spiritually to help prepare for a new book. Pretty simple, just keep praying a lot. Asking God to show me this book that’s already formed in His head. Reveal to me the spiritual theme as I write the story. And I claim joy in the process, because it’s so easy for me to feel overwhelmed.
Speaking of a new book . . .
Sheesh, says this BGr to y’all BGs, what was I thinking when I agreed to tell you my daily process of writing? Now when I don’t make my page count, when I procrastinate, when I fall on my fanny, everyone’s gonna know. Okay, so here’s the report for what I did yesterday. But if I see any rulers coming out for my knuckles, I’m clamming up.
I wrote half a page.
Well. So. It’s better than nothing. Besides, I worked on that half-page for a number of hours.
So now, as of end of yesterday, day three of the new book, I am 11 ½ pages behind. Of course, that’s with counting the first nearly blank six pages, because I know they’ll be a piece of cake later.
Of course, half a page means I wrote the first line. Wanna hear it?
Paige Manders harbored a restless kinship with the living dead.
Whatdya think, huh? Weigh in, BGs. Be honest—I can take it. (Hey, haven’t I had a little practice over the years?)
Before we get to NES (that’s my new term for our Never-Ending Saga): News flash! News flash! Becky’s note that she’d finished Dead of Night gave me an idea. Any of y’all out there reading it—if you’ll post a review about it at amazon.com and/or christianbook.com, I’ll send you a free autographed copy to pass on to a friend. Or, I suppose, an enemy, if you hate the book. (Just please, please don’t give away any surprises in your reviews.) If you’re on my influencer list—hey, you’re already getting a free copy. For the rest of you, e-mail me when your review is posted, and my assistant will send you the free book. It’ll be a free birthday present for your pal. Or a gift for Mother’s or Father’s Day. Whatever.
Okay, back to NES. Where were we?
Oh, yes, Editor C calling with her news about Color the Sidewalk for Me. The last editor who had the manuscript. All hopes pinned on this one. The answer?
Yes, C still loved it. Would have bought it, too. But at the last minute—major problems. Unfortunately, the house was undergoing some reorganization of staff, and C had decided to leave the company . . .
Bam, another door slammed in my face at the last minute. Sidewalk had been officially orphaned—before it was ever born.
Those were difficult days, I’ll tell you. Yes, Cast a Road Before Me was set for release the following spring. But both my other books—the one I’d spent so many years writing—were dead in the water. There were other houses out there who hadn’t seen either Eyes of Elisha or Sidewalk. But there were reasons why my agent hadn’t sent to them. And remember, five years ago there weren’t nearly as many Christian publishers doing fiction as there are now. Still, my agent said she’d keep knocking down doors. The right houses would be found.
I kept praying. I had to believe God had closed these doors for good reason. I only hoped the reason wasn’t to teach me patience—for the next 25 years.
Agent Jane took a good hard look at all the remaining houses. There was one major house that she’d had little dealings with. And unfortunately, with a solid string of known novelists, it had very little room for a newbie. Still, it looked like it might be a fit for Eyes of Elisha. We’d certainly learned by now that this book was apparently “controversial.” Last thing I’d ever want to be, but that was the truth of it. So Jane made certain that this house understood what it was getting. Were they interested in taking a look at it?
Well. By this time, how could I let myself get excited? I didn’t want to be crushed again.
At least, this is what I told myself.
In reality, for us dogged, determined, cabinet-kicking writers, hope springs eternal. So don’t you know--it welled up in me once more.
Jane sent this editor—Editor E—the manuscript.
Around this time, a certain understanding was becoming clear to me. When I’d mention to my writer friends about using techniques I’d learned from Method acting for building characters—guess what? I got blank looks. May sound silly now, but this was a real surprise at the time. I’d studied drama in high school and college, read all the Stanislavsky books (the so-called “father” of Method acting), so the techniques rolling off my tongue sounded natural to me. But apparently they were Greek to my pals. Hm. Could there possibly be a book in this?
I started doing some research. How many books were there about adapting Method acting techniques for novelists? Answer: none. Whoa. You mean to tell me I got some kinda bright new idea? Way cool!
I started writing a proposal for a nonfiction book on the subject. Hey, what did I have to lose except being rejected again—and I was getting real used to that. Somewhere along the way I realized I’d better ask my agent about this. “Um, Jane, I know I’m already writing in two fiction genres, but could I write another nonfiction? Here’s what it’s about . . .” She said go for it.
I wrote the proposal. Sent it to Jane. She sent it back—with needed changes. Surprise, surprise. I wrote it again. This time she okayed it. And sent it out to two houses in the general market that were perfect for publishing it.
Yippee yay! Ye ol’ hope started bubblin' for sure. Now I had two manuscripts out, in both the Christian and the general markets—to a total of three great houses.
Where could we go wrong?
Read Part 31