Or, not so regularly scheduled.
After all, I haven’t delved into backstory (mine) in some time.
But there’s so much interest in what I call alternative routes to publication–a la Karen McQuestion–that I figured I might as well discuss a few more of the points along my ongoing journey.
So, I’d signed with my first agent, and I still remember her saying, “OK, we have time for one good round before the summer slowdown.”
It was May.
My first–only it was really my second; I’d been querying with two different manuscripts–novel went out to five editors as the end of June loomed.
And I sat back and waited to be told I was going to be published.
Didn’t happen. We got one semi-informative pass, which said that the pace of the novel flagged a little in the middle.
Back then I still believed that if a book was good, it would be bought, and if it wasn’t bought, then it must be at least flawed.
I remember I was part of a writing group then, whose best effect was to introduce me to The Best Editor in the World. TBEITW is still one of my dearest writing buddies, and I would never send a ms out into the world without her reading it and showing me not only where I’ve gone wrong but often, how to fix it.
So I brought the ms to her, and gave her this pace flagging issue, and sure enough she pinpointed what could be responsible.
To be brief, it involved the fact that a dead body was found in the middle of the book, when really it should be a penultimate moment kind of thing.
How hard could it be to move a dead body around in a plot?
A heckuva lot harder than it is to move one in real life. (I think.)
Oh, did I tear that baby apart. And oh, did I suffer over every infinitesimal scene change that rippled throughout every subsequent page, necessitating basically, a total rewrite.
But when it was done! The heavens opened. The angels sang.
HOW could I have let the previous, flawed, ugly, disgusting ms out on submission? How could my agent have wanted to represent that piece of dreck? Of COURSE it didn’t sell. THIS was the novel it wanted to be. The novel it NEEDED to be.
Come September, we went to four more houses with the new, improved (read: rejection-proof) version.
And didn’t get so much as a semi-informative pass out of anyone.
“I’ve had submissions before that went south,” my agent said in a worried tone.
So, what did we do then?