There are so many good things about being a writer—author Katey Howes captures most of them in this post: http://kateywrites.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/an-almost-objective-look-at-choosing-a-writing-career-illustrated/. I happen to agree with all of these, especially the part about showing up to work in pajamas, and loving it so much you sometimes forget to pick your kids up from school (although, strictly speaking, that is not a good thing if it happens too often).
Over a year ago, I decided to “be” a writer. I wish I could say I’ve forged ahead, guns blazing, conquering all obstacles in my way like my secret agent cat hero, Timber Howligan. Russian spies? Vicious guard dogs? Wily rabbits? No problem for Timber Howligan.
Oh. You haven’t heard of Timber Howligan yet? Er, that’s because the book isn’t published yet. It’s not, um, actually done.
My path has been more like the novel that gets rewritten seven times.
Not for lack of trying, mind you. More for taking a hard look at the first 65,000 words I ever wrote, and realizing…
Wow. That needs work.
Back in November, I thought the book was done. Almost signed, too—with a local independent publisher, but a publisher nonetheless. Obviously there would be one more round of edits, but according to the publisher, they’d be quick—she promised to have the book out within six months of signing the contract.
Except she didn’t want to sign the contract right away. Okaaaaay….I told myself I wasn’t the one in a hurry. She told me when she would call.
In the meantime, I started having second thoughts. As an independent publisher, she offered little in the way of marketing and not much more in the way of services beyond self-publishing, except she took most of the royalties. I did my homework—I talked to some of the authors who had published with her. I read some of the books she’d published.
I decided that when she called, I had a lot more questions to ask.
However, she never called.
So my “publishing” deal fell through, but to be fair, I kind of let it. I wanted my story not just to be published, but to be good.
In December, I hired a professional editor—Mary Kole, of kidlit.com.
This was by far the best thing I have ever done for my writing.
That book I thought was almost done? Major plot surgery. Serious character work. Right now, it’s on life support. I’ll do my best to stitch it back together—hopefully retaining some of the voice and style and humor that I loved about it to begin with.
They say you have to kill some darlings along the way. This edit may have murdered my baby. But not every first novel is going to see the light of the bookstore shelf.
Then why did I write it? I created a character—Timber Howligan, secret agent cat—who will live forever in the hearts and memories of those who have already read my book. Including my eight-year old son, who stayed up late to finish it and laughed at all the right places. My kids dressed up as Timber Howligan and Lester McMuffin (Timber’s best friend) for Halloween. I WROTE A NOVEL. I know how to do it—and because of the patience and professional help of Mary Kole, I know how to do it better next time.
I’m not giving up on this book—Timber deserves everything I can give him. I love this story. It still makes me laugh out loud. Sometimes I cackle while I’m typing. By the time I’m done with it, it will be a lot better than it would have been before…
And worth waiting for.