Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Holding My Breath

If you check into this blog on a regular or semi-regular basis you've probably noticed that in recent weeks I haven't had a lot to say about specific questions/issues/decisions I'm fighting through in regards to composing Yellow, my Van Gogh novel. Not a lot to say about how I'm "creating Van Gogh" at the moment. Well, there's a reason. I'm living through an exciting but difficult--and entirely necessary--period in which I must do one thing: Wait. To be specific, three readers I respect and trust are looking over the manuscript of the novel, which after years of composing and months of cutting, editing, and shaping had reached a point where I needed to release it to others and get some honest feedback. I liked everything that was there and everything that was there seemed to be there for a good reason, but then again as the author I was way too close to it. It was possible--even likely--that I couldn't see something that would be obvious to another reader. So in December I lined up three literary friends and gave each a copy of the book on a flash drive. And the wait began.

Yes, it's nervewrecking, especially as I am eager to begin final revisions on the book, to get it into firm enough shape that I can begin to contact agents. There are a few agents, in fact, that I already know I will send the manuscript to. Knowing that, it's really hard to sit on my hands. I worry that the clock is ticking on my book. Will it be relevant this time next year? Saleable? Exciting? My head flushes with worries and impatience and gripes; but then I tell myself to calm down. I remind myself of Heather Sellers's sermon in her Chapter after Chapter against rushing books to agents before they are ready. I don't want to throw away four years of work on an ill-timed last move, do I? No. So what do I do while I wait? Well, I've sent several different excerpts from the novel to literary magazines, hoping to earn it some advance publishing cred. I've written two longish short stories and the first draft of something that appears to be a novella. In other words, my writing continues; more than that, it moves on. None of the three pieces are historical or involve painting at all. No one cuts off any ears. No one's mad (not exactly). All three are completely contemporary. That's a relief, I admit. But its hard, and I don't want, to just forget about old Vincent. I can't. Not yet! I know it's likely that there is important writing business to tend to before I can call Yellow truly finished. In fact, I'm eager to get to it. But for now I've something else to do. Wait.

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