A few people who’ve read the short story have written to ask what it means that my novel is on sub, why I call it “the throes of submission.” Thank you, first of all, to those who have asked.
You started me thinking that maybe it’d be interesting for me to go back to the beginning and catch people up, reflect a little on how I got from there to here. Not that here is anywhere big–but that, I suppose, is the interesting part. How very long it can take to wind up not anywhere big. All the things you do to progress even that far.
So I’m going to begin writing about my road to publication, but this won’t be a one post sort of deal. The story is too long, I’ve had to do way too much already. (I know, poor me; I’m LUCKY I get to do this even if not yet for a living!)
Anyway, I’ll just start out, breaking it up as I run out of time or tire (no joke–the process is EXHAUSTING–writers out there, care to weigh in?) and then pick up again the next day. If this real life story is anything like the stories I like to read, then it will end as all good stories do, with a good ole happy ending.
It will end with news of a sale.
Have to digress for a moment–before I’ve even started–because I see I just wrote something many could argue with. As all good stories do, I said. I can already hear all the advocates of unhappy–call ‘em realistic–endings in books. I know one such reader myself; he just expressed that preference in a writers board of which I’m lucky enough to be a member.
Let me first of all point you to a great blog post on this subject, written by my dear friend and the best editor I know (after my agent), Lauren Sweet. She says it better than I will, but briefly, here’s the kind of story I like to read (and write). It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. And that ending tends to be just. Perhaps not completely happy–but everyone, good, bad and in between, has gotten his or her due.
You see, I like fiction to order the world. To make it make sense, rather than to make sense of it. I know this isn’t realistic, and it certainly isn’t literary. Literary fiction, I think, seeks to capture the world, not impose order on it. Most commercial fiction–and certainly mine–poses a retreat from the world, which is so often senseless.
When I read a novel, I don’t want the plane to disappear off the radar, losing everyone on board. I can’t stand what happened to those people. I cry about it whenever the headline appears, which these days means I’m tearing up all the time. And who am I to cry? I want to do something for the victims’ families, and I can’t think of a damned thing to do, because there isn’t anything.
From this kind of pain, I find an escape in fiction. In fiction, the plane vanishes, but survivors wind up on a tropical island paradise, and seek to triumph over the mysteries there.
This is surely a to each his or her own. A braver woman than I will appreciate literary fiction. I know my limits, and the biggest is my brute fury over how random life can be.
I guess I wrote a lot here already. Tomorrow, I promise, will begin to describe my road to discovery. Not necessarily my own discovery–the fact of which still remains to be seen. But for sure I discovered a lot as I set out to publish a novel.