Today I am preparing the last of my submission packet, preparing to send my novel (the first of a series) to an agent who has expressed interest. One last review of the required materials: Query/Pitch letter (check), Synopsis (check), Series Overview (check), Author bio/credentials (check), full manuscript (check), requisite panic attack (check).
As I carefully place the paper in the box I am struck by the weight of each page–what it represents to and of me–over a decade of crafting, rewriting, revising, editing, more rewriting, more editing–that very steep climb up the learning curve as I came to understand what it really took to write a novel. And not just any novel, mind you–the very best novel I am capable of producing. Then factor in the years spent immersing myself in the publishing industry with its own corporate culture, idyiosyncratic business models, and unique relationship values. I’ve done the very best I can–now I have to let my work stand on its own legs and hope I’ve properly prepared it to survive in the world.
I imagine this must be what it feels like to wave to your child as they leave home for the first time (something I will have to face in a couple of years). Certainly writing the book was akin to the birth and nurturing process–lots of sacrifice, self-doubt, discomfort, medication, money and bodily fluids involved–and, of course, no small amount of love and devotion.
And now here I stand–on the verge of the unkown (or the top of the front steps to the house, depending upon which analogy speaks to you)–exhilarated, triumphant, and absolutely terrified.
I am bombarded by “what if”–what if it really isn’t as good as I think it is? what if the agent decides not to work with me? what if she does? what if it SELLS?
It is then that I realize that I haven’t really allowed myself to think past the submission process. It is true that I have visualized the printed book on the shelf, imagined myself speaking to crowds of rapt readers in bookstores all across the country, and foreseen my name on the bestseller lists. But this tiny voice is now beginning to work its way into a shriek–what if no one buys it? what if they do, and they hate it?
Taking a very deep breath, I remind myself that there can be no reward without risk. What did I do all of this for, if not in support of the somewhat vain belief that the things I have to say will have meaning to others? As I exhale, very very slowly, I accept that letting go requires a leap of faith, and then commit myself to a giant step off the edge of the cliff, and into the abyss…