Last year was a bit strange for me as I didn’t submit anything for publication. Not a word. It was the first year since 2011 that I didn’t get something published somewhere. Instead, I spent the first half working on a new novel. It’s something that I’m pretty excited about. Sort of a Constantine meets Ready Player One thing. When I’m done with it, I’m going to have a fun book to take to market.
I put it down the middle of summer and began research and review for a novella. That manuscript — I just put final touches on the the draft and I’m submitting it to the publisher as soon as I finish this blog post.
Man, I feel weird right now. I know I should have some sense of accomplishment as I’ve been working on this book (if you include the research) for about ten months. I’ve lived it, filled my daily thoughts with it, scheduled daily writing time for it (before or after my job and side hustle), and never let it slide to the back of the stove top.
This morning should be a bit of a celebration, but instead, I just feel spent. And that’s okay. It’s been a lot of work. Every time I have had any level of writing success, I feel like celebrating. Go out to dinner, buy something frivolous, etc.
But I never do. I just start thinking about the next thing I’m going to work on. One day, I hope to learn to be a bit more happy about it all.
So, what’s the novella about? The quick pitch is: Encyclopedia Brown vs. Cthulhu. What happens when we take a beloved kid detective (of my own creation, not the actual Encyclopedia Brown) , pluck him from innocence, and drop him into deadly, tentacled embrace of cosmic horror? Pretty cool, right?
I originally put this project together for a pitch workshop at a little writing conference back in 2015 and although the entire room loved it, the guy running the workshop (who also is a publisher that I admire greatly) did not. Boo! It sat dormant in my brain basket until last February, when I ran into another publisher at AWP who happened to be in that workshop and they wanted to know if I had done anything with it.
I put together a revised one-page pitch for them and after giving me some notes, I got to work.
Whammo. Blammo. Here we are.
You just have to keep putting it out there because you just never know. Things have a tendency to ripple forward and catch you by surprise — sometimes pleasantly.
But, as I ready the email to submit the work, I have my doubts. Self-doubt, based on my observations, is a common writer ailment. I guess I’m normal? So many things have to be working in order for the writing to be great, and there are a million ways for it to go wrong. So, I worry.
Toss in a little Imposter Syndrome and it’s so easy to just keep the writing in a drawer. Just don’t hit send.
I’m not good, it isn’t good, it’s going to get rejected, the story doesn’t work, what was I thinking, etc.
I’m allowing myself to go through this awful thought life-cycle but I’m still going to submit the manuscript. We all have our process and mine is to just buckle up, feel the feelings and hope that I get to the other side of it before too long.
And all that’s okay. My worries just mean that I care an awful fucking lot about the work. Passion is a necessary thing for creating. There’s no rule that says it has to feel good.
Just hit send.
Just hit send.
I hit send.