Thursday, December 13, 2012

On the incredible sweetness of Dial's accepting my book.

Yesterday I had a bad cold and spent most of the day on the couch in flannel jammies, alternately sleeping, working out the plot of a new book in my head, and playing Bejeweled on my iPod.  (I am ace at Bejeweled.)  Also, I was waiting.

I wasn't fully truthful in my previous blog post:  I'd admitted to waiting for my summer schedule to sort itself out, for my son to hear from the college of his choice, and for Christmas, but I hadn't said a thing about the email I'd gotten from my editor last week, which said, "We'll call you next week!"

This is code for, "we're probably going to make an offer for your manuscript next week," and I was rather keyed up about it.  But whereas I believe "next week" should be code for "Monday, before 10 am," my editor was apparently taking the more traditional interpretation of "anytime before Friday at midnight." 

Mostly I love my books.  (A few, not as much.  They know who they are.)  I love this book (It doesn't have  a title yet--I refer to it as my WWII book or my English book.).  I loved it long before I wrote it.  I even dreamed about the characters, which was weird but also helpful as my unfettered dreaming mind had some pretty good ideas.  At first I really struggled to transfer my ideas to the page--it was the first book I'd written since the 4-year marathon that was Jefferson's Sons--and my editor's response to the first part of the first draft was, "Are you sure this is what you want for your next book?"

Which is code for, "No way are we publishing this."

It's also code for, "Because it sucks."

That's pretty daunting, but as my characters were flitting happily through my dream life I figured it was the writing that sucked, not the story.  So I wrote back to my editor, "I'll just have to keep working on it until you like it, because this is DEFINITELY my next book."

My husband and daughter, being supportive, read those early starts.  "Grim," my husband said.  OK, nobody likes grim.  I fixed it.  I changed it.  One, two, three, four, five, SIX times.  Six starts before I knew I had finally found my protagonist's voice.  After that we were off to the races.

"Do you really need a pony?" my husband said.  "I thought this was a book about World War II."

"It's set during WWII," I said.  "The pony's important."

"Dunno," my daughter said (and she HAS a pony, for goodness' sake), "it's a lot of pony."

I quit letting them read the manuscript.

Which brings us back to yesterday:  late afternoon.  I'm still on the couch.  My husband is home--it's his early day.  The phone rings, and it's my agent.  She's already told me she loves the book ("so much heart," she said).  Now she's telling me my editor loves it, too, and is in fact offering to buy it.

It still needs work.  It needs quite a bit of work.  I've got a little list on my desk of details I'd forgotten to put in.  My editor will send me her thoughts, and they'll be extensive, and also intelligent, thoughtful, and mostly correct, because she's an excellent editor.  I trust her.  She'll make me work harder than I want to, and I like that.

And sometime in the next 18 months or so there it will be--my new book, my next book, no longer in my dreams but solid, ready for everyone to read.