Caffeine or Life?

Oh boy, I’m feeling sorry for the writing group I’m in right now, because in less than an hour they’ll have to be at a table with me. In a place where you’re supposed to sit still, concentrate, contemplate, and compilate (questionable word), I feel like the little silver ball inside a pinball machine trying to maneuver itself through the crystal department at Macy’s. BING! Crash.

Maybe it was the Italian Roast from Starbucks this morning that kicked me into fifth gear, having skipped over second through fourth, but whatever it is, I’m feeling like I could take no prisoners today. WooHoo! Maybe it was getting up at dark-thirty, dressing, and leaving the house with headlights on low beam scouting for deer (actually, I think Bambi and friends were still sleeping) to get a big jump on the day that has put me ahead of the eight ball today. Regardless, I hope I won’t be too obnoxious for this writing group.

It’s been a week now since I submitted my manuscript, and it’s such a freeing feeling. I’ve had a birthday, lots of celebrations, and lots of ideas bouncing around my noggin. I’m excited about possibilities. I’m excited about friends. I’m excited about the season. I’m excited about life. What are you excited about today?

It’s Out of My Hands

Oh, happy day! Today is the day I’ve been waiting on for a long time. I hit the SEND button to submit my manuscript to a literary agent, so that means I finished it. Did you hear that? I FINISHED it.

I remember having a meal with my husband three years ago at Greenwoods on Green Street in the setting of my novel when he looked at me and said, “Whatever you do, just promise me you’ll finish this book.”

So there. It has taken almost three and a half years to get from “Once upon a time” to “The End” for the second draft. That’s almost long enough to get another college degree.

A couple months ago I considered whether I should attend the annual writing conference where authors can sign up for an appointment to pitch their stories to agents and editors. Last fall I attended but was nowhere near ready to pitch. This year I finished the first draft on the last day of February and was working through the second draft but still not finished. In September I was encouraged by a GRW member to sign up. “You’re ready,” she said, though I knew I wasn’t finished. Regardless, she was right, I was ready.

The next month was busy for me, working practically non-stop on the revisions with a pivotal scene yet to be written and hanging over my head. A day before the conference I almost threw in the towel. I’m not ready. I’m not finished. I’m not going. My anti-writer was beating me down. I decided rather than to be anxious about not having a complete manuscript to present on a silver platter, to go in and meet the agent and then to work my way in to talking about my novel. As soon as I decided to approach the pitch appointment in that manner, I felt fine about it. My nerves dissolved.

A confidence booster phone call from my friend and writing critique coach, Becky Kraegel, gave me confidence to do just that. A pitch workshop that morning prior to my appointment almost played against me, but with minutes to spare, I threw out everything  we reworked and went with my gut. I’m glad I did, because my pitch appointment with my selected agent went storybook perfect, and she requested my full manuscript. I couldn’t have had a better outcome.

So for the last two weeks I have been rewriting, editing, working on edits Becky submitted, and even had a mountain get-away to work with my friend Paige who said she was honored to be among the first to read the chapters. A couple days later, it was ready to go. Today I hit send.

Just as a mother has to adjust to not being pregnant after she gives birth, I’ll have to adjust to not having to think about this manuscript any more. No longer do I have to worry about Melinda and Grammy and who knows what or why this or that happened. It’s done. I can exhale. It’s now out of my hands. If it’s in God’s plan, then this agent will call me and say, “I love it!” But if not, that’s okay. It’s just the beginning. I won’t quit there, but the most important thing is that I didn’t quit at all. Just as I promised my husband at lunch that day in 2008, I finished the book.