After an extended absence in which my husband suffered the indignity of cancer surgery involving his nether region, here is what has transpired: Dan attempted to embrace the healing, lush greenery of the pacific northwest (which he discovered was too rainy for him to recover properly on the golf course); we sold our house and, in an abrupt about-face, bought in the desert southwest (where my husband now happily ponders putts rather than prostates); I finished the first draft of a manuscript (which won a finalist spot in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest); and my beloved Lily the Cat (who the vet said was too delicate to make the long trip and wild climate change) now graces another woman’s life and lap.
I’ve just returned from the PNWA annual conference, my head filled with information and assignments. The dreaded synopsis I fretted over in my last post turned out not to be so dreaded after all, and now will serve me well as I contact the agents and editors I met who indicated an interest in seeing my winning manuscript. But first, I’ll conduct a careful reading and an even more careful editing of the manuscript, I’ll prepare the perfect cover and/or query letter, and grind out a personal plan for a bit of shameless self-promotion. Can anyone say, Press Release?
There’s no hurry-worry over any of it. More important than rushing to present a first draft manuscript is making certain that every word, every sentence, every paragraph is precise and well-considered. The story I’ve written may be delicious to me, but will it make an agent’s or editor’s mouth water as well? I’ll spend the next two weeks cloistered over my manuscript making certain that each word makes a reader’s eye hungry for the next word, the next sentence, the next paragraph, and so on.
Just as Dan and I endured the painful decision of location, location, location to locate the best place for his recovery, I’m of the school of thought that good writing takes practice, practice, practice to find its best chance for publication. It takes firing up those brain synapses every day in the practice of writing. It takes reading the best work of other authors in your genre. It takes finding your own voice, and then warming up that voice every day until your writing sings! Natural desire and talent is one thing, but part of writing also entails precise and specific knowledge that only comes from the doing of it. I heard somewhere that if you want to be an author, you must first learn to be a writer. That’s good advice for the likes of me.
So it’s on now to my first grande latte stop of the day, manuscript under the arm, reading glasses on the face, and a ruthless red pen in hand. Wish me luck with my writing, and say a prayer that I’ll soon stop missing my Lily the Cat!