The most frustrating thing about finishing a First novel is what to do when the rewrites are done and the book is...well...written. I know I should be starting another piece...and I have...but images of that mistake I may or may not have made on page 197 (or 123) keep invading the process.
The first couple of weeks (after typing a date at the bottom of the last page and carefully sliding a rubber band over the pages) were dedicated to the query letter and the synopsis. I have never stressed over the sound of single words more than I have composing that one single-page document. It reminds me of the SAT's in high school. Don't worry about it...it's only a test...your whole depends on it. I'm fifty-eight; somehow, my "whole life" is a scarier concept.
I may understand the process, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating. This Little Piggy Belongs to the Devil...that's the novel...is a short, taut psychological thriller that has been reduced - repeatedly! - to "your project is not quite right for our list". In similar words, I have heard the same message forty-one times. One agent even sent the not quite right missive printed on a business card neatly tucked into the folds of my original letter.
I keep a positive attitude. I have to. It is part of the process. I use the word "process" a lot; it's what we signed on for when we decided writing made sense as a career, a future and a life. There is always a silver lining, a positive aspect; at present, unanswered queries still outnumber rejected ones. Positive thinking, right?
The whole concept of an acceptable list made starting the new novel difficult. What if this thriller, with its octogenarian hero, is somehow last year? Like television. Lawyers and cops are in, doctors and Charlie Sheen are out and no one is sure about the CIA. In the end, it doesn't really matter. Cold Spaghetti is the idea and the idea is taking shape. It is starting to breath on its own. In a little while, I'll be pushing different qwerty combinations on the laptop; my characters will be doing all the real work.
I've noticed that I've stopped thinking about the remaining fifty-three unanswered query letters in favor of the idiosyncrasies of my cranky protagonist...at least until I check the mail and find another SASE with its two, neat fold lines.
Next: Ruminating Philosophically (May 15, 2011)