Then we submit and wait – and worry.
This waiting reminds me of when I was single, living in New York City, wondering how I was ever going to marry if I couldn’t even get a date. Why wouldn’t anybody choose me? Wasn’t I good enough?
So I foreswore marriage. After all, I had a pretty good life as a single woman and I wasn’t going to change it unless someone really wonderful swept me off my feet. The following week, Mr. Wonderful showed up. That was almost thirty years ago. But it seems like I’m right back there again.
My agent has sent out my novel to several houses. One passed right away, like the boys sent up by my anxious aunts, boys who were expecting someone taller and blonder, perhaps. The editor wrote a really complimentary letter, called me “a fine writer” and said she wouldn’t be making an offer. I know: I’m too challenging; she’s going to make an offer to some writer whose book is easy to get along with, someone who’s written a happier book – someone else.
The letter this editor sent to my agent was actually quite flattering, and for almost a week, I was flying. She’d clearly read the book all the way to the end and been bothered by it, which means I got to her. I did my job. It felt like one of those dates the aunts set up, where we eligible singles would meet for a drink, have a pretty good time, and part by mutual agreement.
Now I’m waiting to hear from a half dozen other editors who have the book, and not hearing anything is driving me wild. These editors are like the guys who’d ask for my number with such sincerity I expected them to call the next day, or the next, or the next. Now, when the phone rings at the end of the day, I hesitate before answering, to compose myself, in case it’s my agent with good news. But the only calls I get at the end of the day are solicitations from do-good organizations I’ve donated to in the past, proving that no good deed goes unpunished.
I remind myself that when it came to marriage, I didn’t meet a suitable mate until I put marriage out of my mind. Instead, I focused on the novel I was writing at the time and on creating a meaningful life away from my desk. So, instead of waiting for an editor to walk me to the altar of publication, I must do what a writer does: put publication out of my head and write.
Deborah Lee Luskin often writes about Vermont, where she has lived since 1984. She is a commentator for Vermont Public Radio, a Visiting Scholar for the Vermont Humanities Council and the author of the award winning novel, Into The Wilderness. For more information, visit her website at www.deborahleeluskin.com