On being on submission

As many of you wonderful people will know, my novel is currently on submission, which means it’s being looked at by editors having been sent to them by my agent. It’s not something I’ve talked about in detail at all, either here or anywhere else on the internet.

This unbelievably useful post by Natalie Whipple explains why:

Submission, as we all know, is probably the least talked about process in a writer’s road to publication. And rightly so. It’s part of the biz that must stay professional at all costs. It’s not something you can talk about in detail—especially in very public forums such as a blog.

There is so much I could pick out from Natalie’s post. It’s all great and very much mirrors my own experience to date, especially the mental tussle of not knowing what’s going to happen to your work. Some days you think it’s definitely going to get snapped up, others you want to pack it all in.

But the truth is:

… no one really knows if your book will sell. That’s the maddening part. You literally do not know — your brain tries to read into every little thing in order to KNOW. But it doesn’t. You just have to wait, and the waiting sucks. Period.

And that’s another reason I don’t talk about this stuff much on the internet – there isn’t a great deal to tell. Most of the time you’re simply waiting for the next update. It’s a long process, sometimes so long it’s hard to get your head around. The waiting is genuinely tough.

However, it’s also easy to forget that there are other writers in the world. Or that agents/editors might have, you know, other work to do. Because although the waiting is frustrating, more often than not it’s for good reason, and not because a) your work is rubbish, or b) nobody loves you.

Natalie again:

If you let it, waiting can destroy you. What you want will always be just one step out of reach, and when you’re done waiting for that there will be something else to wait for. It’s hard to be happy when you’re constantly focused on that thing that could happen in the future, instead of what’s happening in your life right now.

This is so true. Most of my time on submission has coincided with the equally long and arduous process of organising my wedding. By getting on with the thing that’s been most important in my life for the 18 months, the waiting for news on my novel has been less stressful. I guess, much like those agents/editors, I’ve had other stuff to do.

Not any more. The wedding has been and gone and it is time for me to roll up my sleeves and get cracking with novel number two while novel number one is still on submission. There’s no point standing still. I have to keep writing. We all do.

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