Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Good News, But Nothing to Lose Sleep Over

If it weren't for the total sleeplessness and the come-and-go toothache, this would have been a good week.

It started Thursday afternoon day when I got an e-mail from an agent responding to my query letter and asking to see the manuscript of Gladys.

Yes, I know. Huge news. And at the same time not at all. It's a first step, nothing more. If he likes it, it's not as if the struggle is over. Really it's just the beginning. All it means is I won't be alone in the struggle. We're still talking months at best. Yet, having been told "No" politely about 18 times and completely ignored another 18 or 20 by people who haven't actually read the story, having someone say "Send me your manuscript" felt like a huge breakthrough.

It was also a little inconvenient. For a month or more I've know the manuscript needed a little tweak. Not a major thing, but a tweak that was gong to take some work and had to run consistently all the way from the first page to the last. I'd been putting it off. I knew exactly what needed to be done, but there was always something more pressing – working on Bones or something for the Source or something. I let it slide. It wasn't pressing.

Well, Thursday it became pressing. So I had the weekend to work.

The first chapter took pretty much all of Saturday. It had been almost a year since I finished the most recent draft of
Gladys (there are no final drafts, only drafts you've decided are good enough to send off. You never stop tinkering.) It took a little while to get the tone, the voice, the feeling right. And I'd known that this would be the hard part. The projected change would involve adding material – two new characters and a new situation. It would raise the stakes, make it even more essential that Chrissie get on that boat.

I ended up taking about about 2,000 words from the beginning of the book and putting in about 3,000 new ones. But by the end of Saturday that was done to my satisfaction. Tori read it and gave me all the right reactions.

An aside – Tori hates it when I watch her read my stuff. If she smiles or finches or – please God please – laughs, I'm right there with "What? What? Why did you laugh? Did that work?" I'm terrible. So Saturday – this is true and I'm pathetic – I hid in the hallway and watched through the binoculars – seriously! And I could see it was working for her based on her facial expressions. Tori is not going to lie to me, "Oh, that's just great honey." She'll be brutal if that's what I need, and I know she has thought this tweak was somewhere I should have taken the story months ago. Sometimes I'm a little slow on the uptake.

Sunday and Monday morning I just had to extend those references through the story, make it consistent, add that element all the way through. And re-mark the chapter numbers which got WAY screwed up.

But at the same time, I wasn't able to sleep Saturday. I don't know why, I usually sleep like a rock. But Saturday I tossed and turned all night, got u, went downstairs, came back. Just couldn't sleep. It wasn't
Gladys, I was feeling very confident. But there you go. Two, maybe three hours of sleep.

Sunday I made good progress. But I always work Sunday evening for the Source, it's my night as copy editor. That means I'm going to be up until about 2 a.m., which is when I got to bed. And I get up at 6 to get Tori and Max ready for school. Then stuff kept happening all day so I never got a chance to make up for the lost sleep.

I went over
Gladys one more time Monday and sent it to the agent before noon. Fingers crossed everybody.

Monday night was the worst. I know exactly why I didn't sleep – somehow I developed a toothache – like a mild inflammation in the gum. Not screamingly painful, but enough that every time I tried to lay down to sleep it imposed itself. Tried a bunch of different things. Think I got about half an hour of sleep.

I was able to sleep on and off Tuesday, and spending a lot of time on oral hygiene which paid off, the ache is gone. Got some decent sleep last night so I'm finally feeling more or less okay.

Now, the health report is completely superfluous. This is a writing log and really that's all you need to now. Except, for my own purposes, it does explain why I haven't worked on
The Bones in the Closet in a week. It's funny, at least to me. Every time I think I've cleared a hurdle and can feel momentum building on Bones, something happens to slow me down. Never fails. But this delay – the need to get Gladys ready for her closeup, couldn't be passed up.

Anyway, today is being unproductive for different reasons, but at least I got Gladys to the agent.

Gee, it's been two full days. Do you think I ought to call to see how much he's loved it?

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