skip to main | skip to sidebar skip to main | skip to sidebar The 29 Year-Old NovelWay way back, somewhere around 1980, I developed an idea for a mystery novel. I've always loved mysteries, and for years, I wanted to write a mystery of my own. Time went by however, and writing is more work than we like to think. I just never quite got started.
This time it was different. I really liked my idea, and I actually got paid (in a roundabout way). I wrote the first draft of what would become “The Albemarle Affair” during my paid lunch breaks at work. I drank more coffee than Balzac and wrote with a Bic on yellow legal pads. At that time computers were a complete mystery to me, and had nothing to do with writing. In 1981 I picked up an old office typewriter for $10 and transferred the book to the typewritten page. That wasn’t easy because (a) I could barely read my scribbles, and (b) I make lots of typos and the typewriter was not only ancient, but stubborn. Finally however, I got a draft I thought looked pretty good. Over the next year I continued to work at it...off and on. I got an electric typewriter, and by 1982, I began to think my little project might actually go someplace. In 1983 I began researching publishers at the library and found one that looked promising. I sent my manuscript off and began planning what to do with my newfound success. If you’ve never gone through the old snail mail book submission process, let me explain. First you have to make a carbon copy of your book and—hoping you’ll be able to decipher it later because of all the smudges from erasures on your main copy—you send a letter of inquiry to the publisher. After all that, you wait. You wait. Still waiting...
Chances are pretty good that you’ll never get a response. Sometimes however, months later, you get a letter expressing interest in seeing your novel. Oh joy! You manage to follow all the manuscript preparation rules and have your book all typewritten and double spaced on one side of the paper. You package it up and send it to the publisher with a stamped return envelope inside. More waiting. Again, you may never get a response, but some months later you may—just may—get your novel back with a printed rejection slip. Those months could easily turn into a year. Once in a while you get a little “sorry” note from an editor, but printed slip or note, it all adds up to: “Don’t quit your day job”.As you may imagine, in the space of two years you might only have your work seen by two or three editors. Of course, multiple submissions would get you blackballed by the industry and I certainly didn’t want that. After going through this process for a number of years, I gave up and tossed the manuscript into a drawer. In the meantime, I wrote another book with the same results. It too ended up in a drawer.
I sold a really neat story to a magazine. They even wanted my picture so I went out and spent a goodly amount on a studio portrait, which I submitted. In the meantime, the magazine died without a whimper and I never heard another word. Lost picture and my story too, because after I mailed it to the magazine over a year earlier, I couldn’t find a copy.Understandably, I think, I repeated "to hell with it". I tossed my two books into the trash and swore never to waste my time on such foolishness again.
Some years later though, I felt the urge to write another novel. By now I had a computer and it was not only easier to write and edit, but it became a lot easier to submit to publishers too, since I could query them and even submit the entire manuscript on line without the time and expense of printing up and mailing separate manuscripts. A goodly number of publishers even began agreeing to look at multiple submissions.
I wrote another book, “The Little Mornings” and actually found a publisher, thus giving me a new lease on life. I got busy writing again, and almost immediately another book was accepted and then a third and fourth.I began thinking about “The Albemarle Affair” all over again. I still liked the book and thought it was pretty good. Alas, it was long gone, but the more I thought about it, the more it came back to me, so I sat down at my trusty computer and rewrote the entire book from memory. That wasn’t as difficult as it may sound. It had remained pretty fresh in my mind all this time.
Oh, and I tried agents too. One agent kept my book for about six months. I wrote and asked about it. She answered that she was holding it because she really liked it and didn’t want to let it go. I said, great. Then, some three more months later, she wrote and decided that much as she liked it, she was going to pass. No explanation at all. Most agents aren’t even that polite and the “nice” ones are after your money.
Well, not to drag a long story out even longer, some 29 years from its inception, “The Albemarle Affair” found a nice home. It appeared first as an e-book and then became available in print from http://www.etreasurespublishing.com. It went on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and other sites. Check it out.
What have I learned from all this? In the writing game, you must have patience. Lots and lots of patience.And I still couldn't quit my day job...if I had one.
Come visit my site at http://www.murdermysteryandmayhem.ning.com