A Kick in the Pants
Updated: Oct 20, 2019
At a Pennwriters Conference a few years ago I participated in a Read & Critique session. You could bring two pages of your manuscript, plus a synopsis, to be critiqued anonymously by a panel of industry professionals. It was a long day -- the first of the conference -- right after the Keynote dinner. There were nine of us participating in the Women's Fiction category. Mine was pulled last.
Before they even glanced at it, one of the panel said, "I just want to apologize in advance to this person if I'm extra cranky and overly critical. I'm exhausted." My heart plummeted. The reader read the synopsis out loud. They picked it apart. None of them cared for it. Then they got to the pages. When the reader finished the last sentence, a palpable silence descended. I squirmed in utter agony in my seat.
Then they all started talking at once. They loved it! They had such nice things to say. I was shocked! Relieved! Elated! One in particular, an agent named Louise Fury, loved the piece and immediately broke the one rule of the Read & Critique. She demanded to know who the author was. I tentatively raised my hand.
She asked a bunch of questions. Then she asked to see the manuscript. My joy fizzled like a balloon with a pin hole. "That's all I have written." I admitted. She was a little exasperated at first, but then told me (multiple times over the next few days) to get that book written and send it to her.
There's more to the story in the time that has passed, but I'll save it for another day. What I came here to say is that its been nearly two and a half years since then. The book has gone through multiple drafts and now stands somewhere in the realm of 75,000 words. But it's not done. Not by a long shot. It still has holes. And areas that need heavy revisions. Areas where my timeline makes no sense. It's the first novel I've ever managed to type the words THE END on (thanks NANOWRIMO), but THE END is not THE END, if you know what I mean. Some days I feel like it's still the beginning. I found out last night that Louise will be coming back to the Pennwriters Conference in May 2020. It's like I've been given another chance! I cannot waste it. I've got to get back to working on this novel in earnest, and not just when the inspiration strikes. I need to make a go of it or die trying. It will have been exactly three years by then, time to shove this book baby out into the world and see if it has the legs to stand on and support itself. Seriously, this is my wake-up call. The kick in the pants I've been needing to buckle down and get this book done so I can move on with my life. Move on to the next book, which is already percolating in my mind, serving as a sweet distraction.
All I've ever wanted since I was such a little girl was to write books and have people read them. And here I've got this amazing opportunity right in front of me. The carrot in front of the donkey, as it were.
This is my chance. I've got to seize it.