A final read of the Slick Rock Creek (formerly Belief) manuscript, trolling for the last elusive typo. Reading aloud this time to flush out any odd turn of phrase that might need ironing. How it sounds in the mind’s ear is just as important as how it looks on the page.
Then, the novel will be away over the water to Editor, and it won’t ever be quite mine anymore.
Not that it ever has. SRC has already been read, critiqued and edited by several. A writer needs to be accountable to somebody who knows better. Otherwise, he gets sloppy and she gets self-indulgent. “No I won’t,” I vow to myself, but as soon as other eyes fall on it, “Yes, you did. Here, and here, and here.” If you can, find beta readers and field editors who are better writers than you, or at least know more about good writing than you do. Nothing will kill a writer’s gift quicker than praise from mediocre sources.
Don’t believe praise from any source. It is merciless criticism that will make your stuff better. So make sure your readers and editors are true friends. A real friend will tell you the hard and hurtful things you need to hear.
I don’t have any advice for dealing with your publisher’s editor. Once you send it off to Editor, God have mercy on your ego. I hope your publisher assigns you a good one, who believes in what you are trying to write.
Getting a book out is a long slog. The first tentative notes I have for SRC are dated 2014. Since then, I’ve written another whole novel and put together a collection of short stories. The last ten months have been pretty much immersed in Slick Rock Creek. Before it’s done with you, you’ll find yourself living in your book.
Don’t pick your corn before it tassels. Just remember, it isn’t publishing that makes you a writer. You’re only a writer while you’re writing. Publishing is what publishers do. I can tell you ten reasons not to self-publish. That doesn’t begin to cover them all. Yes, it’s hard to find a publisher. I sent out two hundred queries before Alfie Dog Fiction took me in. But they’ve kept me all this time. They’ve taught me to write. I’m still learning. Getting a book published by anybody doesn’t mean you are a good writer. If it sells a few copies, it does give more people opportunity to discover what’s wrong with your stuff.
I’m going to miss having my little tale around to worry over on sleepless nights. I’m going to miss having a ready answer when people ask me what I’ve been doing lately. I’m going to miss Clara, Schroeder, Martin, Marjorie, Sheriff Wilma Longshadow and Deputy Fred Wilkie, Tom, and Lillian and Pastor Wilson Redding, Emalene and Lula and Jane McCarson. I’ll miss Ray Gentle and Mattie Stone and Jimmy and Judge Longley and even crazy Charlie. And that ain’t all of them. Charlie Dickens ought to be proud of me.
It’s been a wild ride. I hope y’all will find it as much fun as I have.