Last Saturday I sent my novel's first palatable manuscript off to my agent!!!!
I'm pleased with myself, as you can probably tell! This post will be riddled with exclamation points...!
I thought I'd share with you what I've been told. As promised, I'm going to yap about everything I learn of the publishing industry as I smash further and further through the battlements. (!) There's nothing ground-breaking thus far, but if I wait until I learn everything, we'll wind up with one long, hard-to-read rant instead of a series of single points, so in the spirit of a short story writer, I've made the decision to share.
I had three misconceptions when I sent my manuscript in. Four if you count the one that doesn't quite count.
The first is that I thought old-skool agents gave full editorial analysis of your work. Leslie told me she'd give a "reader's analysis", which is what I'd thought editorial analyses to be. Apparently, editorial analyses are quite in-depth, not just going into what the work could do better in an overall sense, but actually commenting paragraph by paragraph. That sounds awesome, and I can't wait.
Which leads me to number two: I have to wait. Leslie's first piece of advice was that I should leave the manuscript alone for about a month, and do what I can to distance myself from it. The wrong kind of excitement can kill a story. When Ray Bradbury wrote of "zest and gusto" he was referring to excitement about ideas, and writing when inspired. Getting excited about a deadline, and letting yourself fall in love with your own work, are both wrist-slap-worthy. The former boils down to impatience. The latter stops you from being able to distinguish "baddies" from "darlings" (see "Kill the Baddies, Not the Darlings" under Writing Advice).
So I decided to start another novel. I think an new project is the best way to distance myself. As is the fantasy of all younger siblings, having a new baby should be the best way to distance myself from the previous. Take that, Mario, you arrogant bastard.
Little brothers get Luigi.
The third thing, and the one that doesn't quite count, because I already knew, was that it's nowhere near over. There will probably be two re-writes with Leslie's help. Then there's waiting to see if she CAN sell it. Then there's the editorial process. Then there's awaiting publication and hoping the publishers don't go bankrupt or drop their department or anything else before the book gets published. I'll keep you informed about the process as I learn, so expect many more posts on the matter.
Whenever I tell my friends about finishing my draft they say something along the lines of, "That's great! When will it be in print?"
The most healthy professional response is probably, "I don't even know if it will see print yet, and I'm trying not to get my hopes up, so shut the f**k up." But we can't talk to our friends that way. I always wind up saying, "I'll let you know!" or "Hopefully one day!" at which they always laugh, thinking I'm just trying to sound charmingly humble.
It's good to get excited sometimes. Everyone says I should be pleased with myself, and of course I appreciate the enthusiasm.
The fourth thing I've learned, though, is that "pleased" isn't the right word. I want to share the feeling with you because it's like nothing I've experienced. It's not overwhelming relief or joy. It's not exactly worry that Leslie will hate it, either. I know the story doesn't suck, even if I'm not positive she'll love it. I just feel numb and eagre to write something new. I was supposed to take this week off. I certainly deserve a break, but I don't want one. I can only express this as the feeling of having something on my mind that refuses to articulate itself. "Numb confused happiness" is the most honest descriptive stab that comes to mind, but I honestly think Luigi says it best.
Note: when you select Mario he says, "Ya-hoooo!" or "I'm a-number one!" like the arrogant bastard he is. Luigi, always ready for a scrap, says "Let's-a-go!" which is roughly how I feel. Moreover, I believe Luigi's attitude is the correct one. He is the superior warrior, for he will always fight to improve, and arrogance will be Mario's downfall.