Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Now Comes the Fun Part

By Martha Reed

A wonderful thing happened on Saturday morning around 11AM. I finished my manuscript.

Completely. Finito. Ad infinitum. Can I get a hallelujah?

The best part of finishing it was the realization as I sat there, in my chair at my kitchen table, stunned that I was done, that I had really finished writing my second novel. The true beauty of that moment was that I could finally – after fifteen years of concerted effort – relax. You see, there had always been this niggling doubt in the back of my mind after I finished the first one that I might not be able to do it again. I can lay that doubt, at least, to rest. I did it once. I did it twice. I can do it again.

The best part is, so can you.

I’m not writing this blog to brag about it but I'm in hope that my experience might offer encouragement to someone out there who is struggling through their manuscript now. I’ve been there. It’s tough, no doubt about it. There will come a time when you get half way in at 50,000 words and look at a blank new chapter heading and think: ‘this whole thing is crap and I’ve wasted years of my life’.

Persevere. Please.

Even if you write crap, and more crap, and then edit the crap, you will one day get to a place where one sentence doesn’t really look all that bad. This may lead you to a paragraph and that paragraph may introduce a new character to you and your future readers and that character may be the voice you’ve been looking for. It won’t come easy, and if it does, you’re probably not being completely honest with yourself. Writing is hard; it makes you dig deep because, honey, that’s where the gold is.

How’s that for a voice?

And now for the best part. I get to go shopping for an agent. I love shopping, and this time, I know exactly what I’m looking for – I should – I’ve been researching the idea for as long as I’ve been writing the manuscript. And I have to admit, looking back on it, which is a very nice place to be, that I’m glad it took so long for me to learn the craft because it knocked all the crap out of me, too, as far as my expectations go. I’ve got my head on straight, my eyes on the prize, and I’m ready to play.

Deal me in, boys. I’ve got product. And it's good.


Annette said...

Way to go, Martha! I happen to know where there are going to be a few agents this weekend...

Tory said...

Hallelujah, indeed!

PatRemick said...

Congratulations, Martha! Your blog entry is especially welcome at my house today. I believe I actually may finish mine in 2009 and just last night I told my husband that I was in the "it's all crap" stage. Thanks for being an inspiration to persevere and good luck with your Agent Quest!

Martha Reed said...

Agent Quest - Never give up! Never surrender!

And it's already looking up - I received an email from the PennWriters conference folks that I have an appt. with Uwe Stender this Saturday. Wish me luck!

Equally odd is how the right people show up in your life at the right time. I was at a Mothers Day brunch on Sunday, and talking to a newcomer to our group, trying to make her feel more at ease since she just moved here from NYC. She said she was looking for a job, and I asked: So what did you do in NY? Twenty years in publising, she replied. That's funny, my friend Christine leaned over the table. Martha here just finished her manuscript? Really? Yes. Do you have a synopsis? Yes, actually I do. Here's my email, if you send it to me I'll pass it along to my agent friends in NY.

Wow. Sometimes it just works.

Joyce said...

Congratulations, Martha!

If you have any questions about certain agents, let me know. I'm familiar with many of them from my own research. Do you read all the agent blogs?

Karen in Ohio said...

Hallelujah, Martha. Best of luck with the agent/publisher search, and great success with your book.

And thanks for the encouragement. I'm about to begin a book that's been cooking in the back of my mind for a couple of years, and need all the mental assistance I can get at the moment.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Congrats, Martha. Now get to work on that elevator pitch and back jacket copy.

That's what you're going to need to take the next step. I know I'm not telling you what you don't already know, but your query, in many aspects, is harder to write and more important than the novel at this point.

Martha Reed said...

thank you everyone for your advice and goodwill. Especially the advice. Luckily, Nancy Martin is presenting an elevator pitch topic at the PennWriters conference this weekend. I'll be sitting in the front row!

NL Gassert said...

Congratulations, Martha. How awesome does this feel?

I'm still struggling through my second book. Your post gave me hope. It made me look forward and realize there is an end in sight—and what a glorious feeling it will be—rather than the present dread, because at least half of the stuff is crap :-)

Way to go! And good luck.