There’s a very definite line in my mental calendar at the moment, that runs through 15-16 June. That is when I’m going to Winchester Writers’ Festival and getting feedback on my first novel from agents.
In terms of activities that need to be completed before that date, I’m very much on track. The first three chapters are polished and ready for submission, as is the synopsis. I have a draft of a covering letter, which I’ll be getting feedback on at a London Writers’ Cafe event tomorrow night. So, by the weekend, my submissions will be printed and ready to go to the post office, in plenty of time for the receipt deadline of 24 May.
I’m also on track to complete the major revisions to the end of the novel by Sunday. Then the whole thing is going to my wonderful parents for a continuity pass and feedback on glaring problems, while I start copy-editing from chapter four. I should then have plenty of time on retreat during the last weekend in May to fix any major issues and finish off the editing before arriving in Winchester on 14 June.
But then I have absolutely no idea what will happen.
Though, I suppose it will likely be one of three things.
I’m getting feedback from four different agents at the festival, based on my cover letter, synopsis, and varying amounts of the actual manuscript.
Option One - they all say it’s no good and I shouldn’t pursue it. And, in that case, I will consign it to a drawer as having achieved its purpose of showing me I can write a novel, I will take what I’ve learned and move on.
Option Two - at least one of them suggests it’s worth pursuing and gives me pointers on how to improve it. In that case, I will gladly take the feedback and use it to direct further revision, after which I will research other agents to submit to, and keep trying.
Option Three - one of them loves it, reads the rest and offers to represent me. And, in that case, I will panic, lose my mind, and probably never write another word in my life.
Because, in a lot of ways, I’m actually hoping for Option One. That’s the easiest way out of the situation I find myself in. I really like my novel, and I’m really proud of myself for the work I’ve put into it and what I’ve produced. But it’s been hard, and not always fun, and I’m not sure I’m prepared to put in the effort it will need to get it to a point where it will sell. And that’s not even taking into account all the complexities of contracts, marketing, self-promotion, sales figures, and of course expectations for another book.
Clearly, part of me wants that - otherwise, I wouldn’t be submitting to agents at Winchester. But the realities of being an author are also very scary, and part of me also wonders if it’s really all it’s cracked up to be.
I love writing, and I know I’ll keep doing it, regardless of what happens at Winchester. But, if I’m honest, writing short stories for competitions, anthologies and magazines is probably where I’m most comfortable. I am working on a second novel, which I love and think is probably better than my first, and I will continue with that regardless of my Winchester fate. But, at least I know, going in, that the ‘worst case scenario’ actually leaves me in a place where I’m very happy.
So, I guess I will just have to see what happens, and be grateful that I’m at stage where, whatever the outcome, I can view it as positive.