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Tuesday, October 19 2010

It's hard to say good-bye, to kick the fledgling out of the nest, to send the kid on his first sleepover, to email my manuscript to my agent. Let me have just one more week! I can read the book again, spot any glaring errors, fix those awkward sentences. Please don't make me send it in! I know I told my agent mid-October, but she won't mind if it's late October.  Right?

If I don't submit my manuscript, I can continue to delude myself, tell myself this is the best thing I've ever written. But once the manuscript leaves the safety of my hard drive, it's open to critique, to comments about plot holes or character deficiencies. The words are exposed, ripe for the picking. Nitpicking that is.

Of course, that's how it should be. The book will never see a publisher's desk if I don't first submit it to my agent so she can offer revision ideas, polish the chapters, and provide guidance.  But now that I clicked that Send button, I'm left with a void. My time is too free, the pressure is all gone. With this sense of endless time, I keep thinking of all the other things I could have done to the manuscript.

Oh, I still have work to do, but it's shorter, and thus easier to push back. I can tell myself that once I sit down to write, I'll have the first draft finished in a matter of hours, so why be in a rush to start writing? Let's just avoid that dreaded synopsis.

Frankly, why do writers even have to write a synopsis? The editor at the publishing house should just read the whole book. Then they'll definitely know what it's about, and save me the pain of writing a summary.

I'm not sure why a synopsis is so hard. I know what my book is about. Surely I can spit out a handful of pages that tells someone what happens in those thirty chapters. But a synopsis is pure, painstaking drudgery. What points in the book must I include? Which characters are critical to the summary? Do I tell events in the order they occur in the book or bunch them together based on the various subplots? How can I make it entertaining yet still informative? I should really take a few days to mull over these questions, make sure I know what direction I'm heading in.

But I can only delay the process for so long before I have to sit down and yank the words out of my brain. Then I'll submit the pages to my patient and long-suffering writer's group, who just finished slogging through the actual manuscript. They'll politely offer suggestions on how to improve the synopsis, all the while promising me it's not nearly as dull and poorly written as I think, even as I spot the drool stains from where they fell asleep while trying to make it to the end. And then that synopsis will also leave my hands and go off on its own adventure with my agent. And the waiting will begin.

Posted by: Staci McLaughlin AT 09:44 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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