So I made this deal with myself: submit BLOODANGEL sequel to editor and then unwrap season two of VERONICA MARS and gulp down the episodes as quickly as life will allow. I surprised myself by getting sick, which interfered a bit with the first part of the deal but happily aided the second part, since for a while there all I could do was lie in a dark room and curse the splitting pain in my head. Could not read or write, and shouldn’t really have been watching bright images flickering on a screen, either, but MARS was worth it (and so was the needed distraction).
I am still woozy, and turning my head slowly, but functional. The thing about being sick is that it feels so good when you’re on recovery road again, heading back to normal life. “‘Cause if you don’t have your health,” I chirped to E last night, “you don’t have nuthin’.”
“Well, no,” he said reasonably. “You do have a few things.”
Hard to let go of a book. I know the best thing I can do for the BA sequel right now is put it out of my head, get some distance from it, so that when my editor hits me with her thoughts and notes I can burrow into the story with fresh eyes.
When do you know it is time to submit? I was pondering this. When your deadline floats by, for one thing. The other is a blind, gut feeling — something in me relaxes and allows me to let go of the manuscript, because I’ve taken it as far as I can at this point in time . The language doesn’t embarrass me (at least right now), and the story closely approximates the story in my head; I might have a vague sense of flaws, flat/weak points, structural issues, but at this point in time I can’t identify what they are and/or how to fix them.
Rather like a doctor patching up a patient and saying, Okay, done all we can, off you go. Take some aspirin and call me six weeks from now. So the patient goes out into the world and gets run over by a bus and ends up back on your operating table. What a mess. What was I doing, sending him out in that unstable and doped-up condition? Scalpel.
So you rely on the kindness (and criticism) of near-strangers (since friends and family will only tell you how fabulous and talented you are, which has its place but isn’t particularly helpful when building a better book). And you rely on your own sense — trained and honed over the years — of when that criticism is right, when that light on your miner’s hat bursts into life and you can see your own work and how to move forward.