I am no Longer a Person; Now I am Officially a Writer
May 2009 marks two years since I wrote my first blog , which was on VOX.com. These two years have been an extraordinary writing journey for me.
I started ‘blogging’ because my literary agent recommended it as a way to build my writer’s platform , but discovered that it offered me much more than that. Blogging helped me make friends from parts of the world I’ve not yet even had the opportunity to visit, taught me how much more alike across the globe we all are than I’d even suspected, and made me think about my perspectives on so many social and political issues. All because of comments left for me on my written posts by other bloggers, and comments left on the posts of others whose blogs I loved to read. Blogging even introduced me to some extraordinary writers who add so much quality work and enthusiasm to my online magazine.
And then, my dream came true and my first full-length work was finally published. And ─ boy, oh boy ─ did life change. Yes, “getting a book deal” is the golden ring all writers are trying to grab on the merry-go-round of the publishing world.
So, for those who dream of it, or for those who know someone who dreams of it, let me tell you what it’s really like once you’ve obtained that objective. Sit back, as I go through it all, step-by-agonizing-step. I promise you every word following is true:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->1) <!--[endif]-->You decide to write a book. You write every day for two years; some days you actually put some words down in a document. You then put manuscript away for one year, because:
a) you move
b) your children move
c) one of your children moves back in.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->2) <!--[endif]-->You pick your manuscript up again, and write for two more years. You’ve now finished your first draft. That’s right ─ your first draft.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->3) <!--[endif]-->You give it to your husband and your best friend to read. You wait impatiently, feeling unloved and neglected, as for unfathomable reasons, they do not drop everything to read your manuscript, which is over 400 pages, single-spaced.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->4) <!--[endif]-->After finally reading, your husband and best friend both gently suggest that you might want to get a professional editor. You thank your friend sweetly, but argue with your husband bitterly for that heartbreaking and insulting insinuation, and then you put your manuscript away for another three months, because you have no idea where and how to find a good editor.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->5) <!--[endif]-->A man whom you’ve never seen before is on the treadmill next to you at your gym. You blurt out to him that you are a writer, and are looking for an editor. It turns out that he is a writer also, and he recommends an editor he knows. This is not the sign from God you think it is. The man on the treadmill next to you is a writer because you live in Marin County, California, where everyone, for better or worse, thinks that he or she is a writer.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->6) <!--[endif]-->You phone the editor and she quotes you an eyebrow-raising hourly rate. You say you will ring her back. You walk into your husband’s home office, and tell him the fee the editor wants to work on your manuscript. Your husband asks, “Is she a good editor?” You say, “Yes, of course.” Your husband tells you to hire the editor.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->7) <!--[endif]-->Your new editor takes two months to edit 80 pages of your 400-plus page manuscript. Then she goes on vacation and returns after two weeks to tell you she won’t be able to work on your manuscript for another four months. You spend three sleepless nights trying to decide what to do about your new editor, whom you like as a person, but are very impatient with as an editor. On the fourth morning, you go into your husband’s home office, exhausted, and tell him your problems the editor.
He says, “I thought you said she was a good editor.” You leave your husband’s office, annoyed with him once again, go in your office and sit down at your computer to write an email to your editor, terminating your working relationship as professionally as possible, your stomach churning the entire time. She sends you a polite acknowledgment back, returns your manuscript, and with it, her invoice. You sigh with relief, and send her the money, a hefty sum. You are depressed and sleepless for three more days.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->8) <!--[endif]-->You go back to your gym, where the man who recommended your former editor is never to be seen again, but another man, whom you know a bit better, recommends his wife to edit your manuscript. You grab her email address and send her an email.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->9) <!--[endif]-->Man-at-the-Gym-Whom-You-Know-Better’s wife meets you in person appropriately at the local bookshop to discuss your needs and her credentials. She sounds qualified to you, but then, what do you know? The price she quotes you is even more eyebrow- raising that the price the previous editor quoted, so you excuse yourself to use the Ladies’, where you ring your husband on your cell phone, interrupting his work once again, to ask his opinion again. Your husband again asks, “Is she a good editor?” And again, you say, “Of course,” to which he replies again, “Then hire her.” You go back to the table where your now cold coffee and your new editor are waiting patiently, and hand over your manuscript, and Mrs. ‘M-A-T-G-W-Y-K-B’ promises to have your work back to you in one month, edited.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->10) <!--[endif]-->Your new editor returns your manuscript in one month, as promised. On it she has penciled in the margins dozens upon dozens of questions and comments. She also encloses a three-page document of her own that offers more suggestions, her invoice, and her doctor’s bill for the carpel tunnel surgery she needed to have after editing your manuscript.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->11) <!--[endif]-->You quickly glance through some of the notes your so-called editor has smeared across your manuscript, outraged and upset by every one of them. You walk into your husband’s office again, crying this time. This time, he wisely says nothing, and just keeps working. Disgusted with him, your editor, your work and yourself, you walk out of his office, and phone your best friend for sympathy. She says she’s glad you found an editor that finished the job she promised to finish. Really disgusted now, you make an excuse to get off the phone. You leave your edited manuscript untouched for two weeks.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->12) <!--[endif]-->After two weeks, you look at your manuscript again, and decide you might as well try making some of the edits suggested, since you paid so much for them. You realize as you work that most, if not all, are not nearly as brainless as you’d first supposed. You type diligently and fruitfully for two solid months. Your manuscript is down to 337 pages and is much, much better. You run into your husband’s home office and tell him how exuberant you are over your brilliant editor. You run to your gym, hoping to meet up with her husband there, so you can congratulate him profusely for his choice of life partner. You now love him and her both equally, as a couple, as though they are old, dear friends. You ring your best friend joyously, informing her that your manuscript is now ready to be presented to literary agents. You will be published within weeks.
Or so you think.
(End of Part One.)
Causes Patricia Davis Supports
Make-A-Wish International, Girls Inc. The Palermo Protocols, Amnesty International, Valley of the Moon Children's Shelter, Brenda Novak's Online Auction for...