I have just submitted my novel, my second attempt at writing a long thing, to a publisher.
This is the most intense combination of complicated feeling, even though it is not dissimilar to performing a one woman show.
Chapter 1 – There is a feeling when you decide to submit it, and then at least twenty push me pull you feelings arrive to make you question whether you are ready, whether the publishing house is the right one (they are the only ones actively asking for submissions at this time), whether you are delusional and have no talent, whether they have a newbie on the submissions desk, whether the time is right, whether you are too old, whether you are too funny/not funny, whether your work is derivative and if it is, who it derives from.
Chapter 2 – The overwhelm, when you have to make sure you have all the supporting documents they need, and you double check the manuscript and you count the chapters and see a mistake, and get caught up in some internal grammar dispute with yourself, and you suddenly question a character’s name, and you get self conscious that the work isn’t long enough, or that it isn’t original enough, and then you re-read a paragraph and you really like it, but the one next to it seems weak in comparison, and you want to go to an arbitrary page and check for consistency but you are too scared to leave where you are and forget what number you changed the mistake to.
Chapter 3 – You are reading a book, a brilliant book, about a writer in his 50s (like you) and his angst, and self doubt, and disbelief that he was any good, and his bleary neediness, and every brilliantly selected word feels like it is written for you, about you, and reminds you of what you are trying to do, only so much better. (The book is Less by Andrew Sean Greer) , and you watch stuff on TV, and it has your themes in it, from your one woman show you just did, and everything feels like it has been done before, only better.
Chapter 4 – The talking to. The pep talk. You give yourself the lecture, the mantra, the vision manifest, and the whole time you are remembering the criticism of the last thing you did – not all the brilliant things that were said, only the bad, and you get the paralysis.
Chapter 5 – You throw caution to the wind, and, like drunk WhatsApp, you press send before you can change your mind, and then you are deeply, irrationally embarrassed.
Chapter 6 – Five minutes later you are already in anxious waiting mode, even though they completely and repeatedly admitted that they would take at LEAST two months to get back to you.
Chapter 7 – in continuum. You write about your feelings, and publicly declare them on your blog, on the internet.