Sunday, October 14, 2012

Whirlwinds and Rollercoasters

With success in hand, I feel comfortable divulging the project I've been cramming the past several days:  a submission to Harper Voyager's open call for their digital imprint.

I had initially intended to give this a pass, for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I didn't have anything finished and edited within the desired word count, and second of all, being a die-hard lover of paper books, I was reluctant to put a project into a digital-only line.

Then the bug and inspiration bit at the same time:  I had Butterfly's Poison, which was the novel I finished before I wrote Flow.  It had seemed to make a strong showing:  Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy in Canada had requested the full manuscript. After so much time, I was dubious about the quality, but I figured I would attempt an editing pass and see what shape it was in.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the core of the novel was solid and far better than I had expected.  Most of what I needed to alter was straightforward:  clumsy wording, clarified setting points, enhanced emotional response.  As I approached the end, I learned of more complications:  HV's idea of a "short synopsis" was a ridiculously brief 1500 characters - estimated 250 words.  Let's face it, it takes me 250 words to say hello.  What I ended up doing was taking my original query teaser and expanding it to include the ending ...

But not before I got an unpleasant jolt.  I had decided to keep working until late this evening, spending as much time as possible cleaning up the novel ... and then about two o'clock this afternoon, I found out submissions had been closed a day early.  I stopped dead in my tracks.  It knocked the wind out of my sails.  I had put in an incredible amount of hyper-focused work to no purpose.

A few hours later, when I was sulking, feeling sorry for myself (no, really) and trying to get through an hour writing exercise, a fellow writer on the same forum commented that the closure had been a technical error, and submissions had been reopened.  I stopped the free write where it was (33 minutes in) and dove back in.

So as of about an hour later:  success.  The submission is on its way, and I feel weightless.

I decided a few things from all this:

1)  The "cramming" edit turned out to be really useful.  The earlier parts of the manuscript were still fresh in my mind even when I got closer to the end.  This is something I think I should incorporate into my process.
2)  Butterfly's Poison is a surprisingly solid manuscript.  Assuming it is rejected by HV (I am aware of how long the shot is!), I will keep it in my files as something to show my agent when I have one.
3)  Never give up.  Never surrender.


Susan said...

Lee, I think the word you are looking for is "relentless." ;-) Mom

Lindsey Duncan said...

I learned from the best!