Thursday, May 29, 2014

THE ECSTASY AND THE AGONY (No, Irving Stone has not become dyslexic. And my apologies to him.)

 Subtitled: turning in the book and waiting for the revision letter.

I emailed my manuscript of MOONBEAMS IN A JAR Wednesday night.  You all know that ecstasy.  After months of trying to pull together characters and plot as I see them brilliantly entwined in my head, I've sent off something I'm pleased with but is more like a lawn sculpture done with a chain saw than a Rodin.
I love it, it's just that it's morphed so much from conception to completion that I hardly recognize my original notes.  I guess that's good.  It means it took on a life of its own, and in exploring the depths of my characters, I found more joy and pain than I knew was there in the beginning.

You'd think I could just enjoy the thrill of a project completed on time despite the house painter arriving two months early, and my sister visiting Memorial Day weekend - and I do - but in the back of my mind is the nagging knowledge that the book isn't perfect and that the way to get it closer is going to involve agony for me and my characters, Jack and Sarah.

Jack had a crack-head mother, was separated from his two little sisters which he is now trying to find, did two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.  He's plagued by nightmares that place his awful mother with him in a Humvee in Afghanistan.

Sarah was a pediatric nurse who burned out while watching children suffer and die.  She lost it completely when one of them was her only niece and her sister blamed her because she couldn't save her.  She lives a sort of half-life, not using  her skills and training,  refusing a proposal from Jack's brother, Ben, because she doesn't want to have a family.

At this point, Jack and Sarah join Ron and me at the dinner table, wander at will through the house, and share the futon in my office with Cheyenne as they thumb through old magazines and wait to learn their fates. What will editorial want them to do - change their pasts?  Change their behaviors?  Alter their dreams?

I've left the office to do other things.  After a deadline, my house usually looks like one of the worst episodes of Hoarders, but this time, with my sister's visit, I was forced to clean, so that's done.  But Ron's been pleading for peanut butter cookies, I have a few trees to plant, clothes to take to Goodwill, and scores of little errands waiting for me to have time.

Meanwhile, Jack and Sarah inhabit my office and wait.  I love them, a lot of the last four months of my life are invested in them, and I so want them to be happy.  So I peer into my office now and then and remind them to be patient and hopeful.  I wonder if Jack would take out the garbage?

How do you deal with the time spent waiting for a revision letter?

23 comments:

  1. Oh I love that, Muriel! I know exactly how you feel. It's such a great feeling to be "done" but knowing there's more to come is hard. I love Sarah and Jack's backstories. Hope we get to meet them soon!

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    1. Thanks, Amy. The professional me understands the need for revisions, but the often selfish me, who has lived with them so long the way I made them, hates to change them. Have a great day!

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  2. Hi, Muriel. I, too, spend the time taking care of all the things around the house that had to wait while I wrote the book. Good luck with Jack and Sarah, though I've no doubt they will soon be ready to come alive for your readers.

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    1. Hi, Linda! I keep hoping they'll develop that Rumba thing that does carpets into a bull blown robot that can do everything! Happy Friday!

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  3. What do I do while waiting for revisions? Panic, panic and then panic a little more LOL. It's a necessary step though and we all somehow get through them. I know my Sept release is definitely stronger for it:) your book sounds so interesting. Can't wait to read it!

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    1. Hi, Jen! I'm too old to panic. I just pout. I used to have a friend who said she loved revisions because then she really knew what her editor wanted. Element of truth to that. Have a wonderful weekend.

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  4. Oh, Muriel. I just sent back the revisions on Meredith and Jimmy. Meredith is a little hardcore and maybe she didn't change enough. Jimmy, well, he changed plenty, but did I man him up enough. And, was their happily ever after too pat. And, will his daughter get the time she deserves... Questions, questions. One thing for sure, Jimmy doesn't take out the trash, but he'll wear a rainbow loom necklace.

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    1. Hey, Pam! Is a rainbow necklace that woven choker-like necklace with beads? Hopefully, Jimmy and Meredith are on their way to Production right now. So far - my trash is still there. Jack's reading Ron's Smithsonian.

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  5. LOL. I'm waiting, too, and I'm doing what our fore-mothers in romance told us to do: I'm writing another book. Otherwise, I would have to clean, too, and that's just not happening.

    Can't wait to read Jack and Sarah's story, and I want to know if you got him to take out the trash--then we'd KNOW he's a hero.

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    1. Hi, Liz. Well, Jack's a hero-in-waiting, so the trash is still there. But I have hope. Yeah, getting the next three chapters and outline together, but not for a couple of weeks. Have to give a speech at a get-together of Executive Women, so am trying to put a spin on my life that would interest them - I am so NOT executive material.

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  6. I've never gotten a revision letter, but I have turned in a full and been waiting to hear back. During those periods, I've worked on a possible sequel to the manuscript that was submitted, started something completely new, and just sat around in an "I can't believe I hit send" stupor while gorging on celebration pasta. I'm at the stage where I pray for revisions, but with a level of trepidation because I don't know what new agonies an answer to that prayer will bring.

    The story you submitted sounds wonderful and I can't wait to see how it all comes together.

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    1. I know! Scary to hit 'Send,' isn't it? But it means you have confidence in it, so maybe editorial will, too. I hope you do get a revision letter and get to stuff yourself on celebration pasta. (Call us. I'll bet most of us could be there in an afternoon!)
      Pulling for you. Let us know how it goes. And have a great weekend.

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    2. Fingers crossed for you, Mz.ZeyZey! :)

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  7. Muriel, it's so heartening to hear that everyone shares these feelings! At this point, I'm still feeling like your friend who likes the revisions because then she knows what her editor wants. About your house comment....I keep telling my husband that someone is going to turn us into that show extreme hoarding or whatever it's called if I don't spend some time working on the mess that is our house. Although my mom was recently here for a visit and I did have to do a quick "clutter stash" so much of it was tucked out of sight--briefly. It's already back, and somehow seems to be multiplying all on its own...

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    1. That's exactly what happens to me! I have an insane sister-in-law who has grandchildren around all the time and has the same problem. She has a ladder on the back porch that moves into the middle of the mess when someone's coming over. Put a tool on it and a paint can, and no one analyzes too closely, they just think you're in the middle of a repair project. ( She's also the woman who thawed a turkey by running it through the dishwasher. Though she didn't use soap, it had a distinctly detergent-y taste. My brother swore we all had bubbles coming out of our mouths. I'm not sure we should trust her.)

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  8. I must admit I do quite like doing revisions. It's the waiting I hate. I always thnk my editor is going to tell me that it's total rubbish. And I do agree that pressing Send is big ask. Really looking forward to reading your book Muriel. It sounds great.

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    1. Hi, Eleanor. That sister-in-law I was talking about is also named Eleanor! I guess it's good that you like doing revisions since they come to all of us. (Don't they?) I worry so much about making it all fit together again once I'm finished. The most innocuous remark made in dialogue can make you have to search down every reference that it changes. And I'm at that age where I'm starting to put words on things around the house so I can remember what they're called! Happy weekend!

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  9. Muriel, Kudos for getting the book finished and out the door--figuratively speaking.
    May your revisions be light to none.

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  10. Thank you for the wish, Roz. You youngsters don't remember this, but remember, Roz, when we had to finish a week before deadline, so we could pack it all up, run it to the post office, pay $30 to send it Express Mail to Canada? (and that usually took three or four days - and when you sent from the back of beyond like Astoria - you added another day) Now, you can send it a minute before midnight of your deadline and it's gone in five seconds. What a world!

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    1. Muriel, I do remember those days. Ugh. We also had to hand write numbers on every page in the typewriter days.

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    2. That's right! I forgot that!

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    3. And remember having to take the strips off the sides of each page of paper (because it fed into the printer in little sprockets--or whatever they were called then)? Having copies made and sending it "Express Mail" to Canada cost me close to $90 per manuscript. How funny that seems now!

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  11. Your post-submission emotions 'feel' so familiar, Muriel! And I must say, I absolutely love that title and Jack/Sarah's stories.

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