Skin

I’m sitting here waiting. Not that it’s doing much good at this time of night. After dinner on a quiet Tuesday is not the time when a publisher is going to call and offer a contract on my novel. I know there’s more waiting to be done. It helps to have thick skin.

An editor friend ran through the early ms. She sent it back filled with scribbles and attached pages of notes. It was daunting to see her thoroughness but it sure did improve the novel. She emailed me to see how I was getting on, hoping that I hadn’t got discouraged. It’s a skin thing, writing.

Then I met one of Australia’s most highly regarded authors who thought the work had merit and deserved some mentoring. This wonderful experience meant very significant work. Chopping and changing wasn’t easy. But hey, I can take it.

Lots of reading by the mentor and lots of writing by me and it was pronounced ready for submission. I sent it off to a publisher. Also entered a competition.

The query came back with a polite negative. They read the synopsis but didn’t call for the ms. It didn’t fit their profile. I survived it. Their politeness helped.

Then the competition result was announced. I’d been longlisted! Translated, I didn’t get anywhere. They sent the judges’ tally sheets and things got really interesting. The novel had been judged on the first 1,000 words, that’s it. The judges agreed that certain elements were missing from what they had read. All I had to do was move those bits to the early part of the work. Sounds easy? After all, it’s only a skin thing.

I sent the new beginning to my editor friend and the mentor. Got good responses. So I queried another publisher and they asked for the ms. And that is where I’m up to. Waiting. Sitting in my skin and waiting.

Back when I sent off my first short stories to a publisher I got the reply, “Three of these we would publish straight off, the others need work.” I got a little morose, and bit discouraged, I got angry even. I sulked a bit and went all quiet inside. It did me no good. Then I woke up. “Hey, they want three, that’s pretty good for a first time ever submission.” So I worked on the others, asked the editor’s opinion of their poor showing, took his advice, re-wrote some, discarded others, wrote some new ones. The result was a book in print.

I respect that editor. He published a book of shorts a year later and won one of Australia’s significant literary prizes. $15,000, how’s that sound? I’m glad I took his advice.

This writing lark has got its moments. I love it when the ideas come and the words flow and the universe seems to constellate around my keyboard. It makes even my skin seem more alive when that happens. But there are other times when a thicker skin is needed. Comes with the territory.

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