So, goal accomplished. I’ve finished a third, extensive revision of my novel. After a read through, I’ll be sending it out to Jeff Kleinman at Folio Literary Management and, if it’s not for him, then on to other agents. (I’ll say a little more about this process next week, when I’m knee deep in it!)
As much as a close revision, such as the one I’ve given my manuscript this fall, can be painful, it’s also safe. The only critical eye I’ve had to worry about is my own, and no matter how critical you are of your own work, you own the criticism. Now, I’ll have to tussle with rejection. No matter how thick-skinned you are, rejection is hard. And the more work you put into something, the more you believe in it, the more painful the rejection. It’s the nature of the beast.
My mother once asked me: “What if you never publish a novel?” At the time, I thought she was being needlessly pessimistic. Then, later I realized she was being pragmatic: “Adjust your hopes, your aspirations, John.” Now, though I think it was an important question, because it forced me to ask myself: “Why do you write?” In other words, if you knew you would never publish, would you still write?
Well, the answer is yes, I would. Of course, I would approach it differently. When I was a kid, I made up stories all the time for my own entertainment and the entertainment of a few friends. That’s still the first reason why I write. Of course, I want to publish. I’d rather my audience be more than just one or a few. I know I can tell a story that’s worth readers’ time. But that’s not my first motive for writing.
So, as I send out my manuscript and brace for rejection, I’ll remind myself why I write. I’ll know that I have an answer to my mother’s question.