Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Game called

My submission date of 9/1 has been rained out.

A couple of weeks ago, I submitted my manuscript to my detective expert, or, as I have been referring to him half-Seriously for some time, my detective. I asked him to check the police-y stuff, thanked him for his help, and I think I added a :)  too, because after all the praise I’d had from my circle of close friends and family, I was feeling secure-grande about this “work,” patting it on its cover before work, smiling at it on my way by, telling it I was proud of it, and so on.
“Feel free to make suggestions,” I invited my detective expert to do in my breezy cover letter.
A couple of days went by. Nothing.

 My detective expert had become involved in something else, I considered. Probably he went out town and left the manuscript on his kitchen counter.

The first email came shortly after that. After a nice beginning, it referred me to a particular chapter and page and said:
“This won’t work.”
Another email followed:
“This isn’t factual.”
And another,
“This wouldn’t happen.”
And finally, a fourth,
“Just my opinion but..”
In one case, he cited not just an error but an error that when fixed, would render the paragraph (which was damn funny when it was wrong) as interesting as a piece of wood. But he was was not only right, he was collaborative, offering a perfect detective-esque fix which was so smooth, it made me friend him on Facebook.

I haven’t heard from him since Thursday which means he either went out of town again, or loves the manuscript but has been too busy to tell me, or hates it and is asking his friends right now how they’d tell me my book sucks.

A couple of nights ago, I dreamed I was reading a review of my book in the Union Leader (it’s a start) and the headline said: “About a book that asks: Are we really alike in the ways that count? I can only reply: Who cares?” I woke up feeling like I’d been dropped from the top of the Serious tree.
I decided I would rewrite the book again. Then I woke up ++ and realized the man in my dream looked a lot like a vice president who hated me when we worked together in 1983. Then I woke up +++ and realized that if I write another book, it should be a first draft, not an eighth.

I remembered that it’s hard to be Serious, apologized to my book for thinking bad thoughts about it, and promised to give it those scenes it needs to be better. Then I realized that in my detective expert I have not a reader but a collaborator who is as Serious as I am. More than reading the manuscript he is examining it. Instead of saying, “Great read!” and blowing it off, he’s taking several hours of his life to help make it better.

I don’t have a critic. I have an ally.

It’s a heady experience to realize how much your family and friends love you, support your work, and will do whatever you ask to help you succeed. But in the end, it’s a lonely job to be Serious. Sooner or later you stop thinking about who will play the main character in the movie, and you go to work, hopefully with the email address of your friends and allies at the ready.

Thank you, Rick. Feel free to make suggestions, and I’m Serious.

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