Thursday, January 3, 2013

Letting Go of My Manuscript (aka my baby)

My book just entered copyediting and I am feeling something akin to separation anxiety.

It's strange, seeing how far this book has come. When I started writing it, I didn't think it would go anywhere. I sort of thought of it as an experiment, or an exercise, perhaps. When I was about a third of the way through writing it, I actually gave up writing it completely for about three months before picking it up again. "I'm not feeling it," I thought, "And besides, who would want to read a book about a teen serial killer?"

When I did finish it, it was about half the length--maybe even less than half the length--than it is now. It was positively shrimpy. My (absolutely fabulous) agent pushed me to make it longer (because it obviously had to be) and despite the fact that I agonized about what else I could POSSIBLY add, in the end, I came up with things to put into it--and guess what? It turned into a much stronger book because of that.

So then my agent sent the book out, and it got picked up fairly quickly; when I got the call from my agent, I was actually at work at a summer internship-type thing, and I couldn't pick up the phone. When I was in the car on the way home, I called my agent back--and nearly had a joy-induced panic attack right on the spot.


I mean, that's what I had always been working towards, but dreaming of something and having it actually happen are two totally different things. You think you're ready for it, that you'll play it cool if and when the call comes, and then it turns out that you really can't play it cool because you're too busy hyperventilating and panicking and walking in circles in your driveway as your little sister takes a video of your freakout and laughs at you.

After that things started happening pretty quickly; I talked on the phone with my editor (the lovely Katherine Tegen) for the first time, I started editing, and in the end I added about twenty thousand words, give or take, to the manuscript. For about three months, I ate, breathed, and dreamed about that novel. In the middle, I got to go to New York and meet with both my editor and my agent for the first time--and things suddenly started to feel very real.

And now my novel is going into copyediting, which means that my itty bitty serial killer book is almost all grown up. Sure, the manuscript isn't completely nailed down yet; but in all likelihood, I won't be writing new scenes, creating new dialogue, or enhancing characterization any longer.

And that's scary.

I've spent a long time with this book. I've seen it grow from an odd, morbid plot-bunny into a full-blown YA psychological thriller. I know its characters like the back of my hand, their personalities and hopes and dreams and insecurities and shortcomings. Now that it is drifting into the land of things-mostly-beyond-Katherine's-control, I feel as if I'm seeing a child move away from home or something.  (never mind that I'm still a child still living at home.)

Now I find myself asking: "What do I do now?" How do I occupy my hours? I no longer have any conversations to dream up, or characters to write into existence. What do I do, what do I do?

The answer, of course, is to write something new. Find another bunch of words to become irrationally emotionally attached to. It's what I do best, after all.

So: Onward!


  1. Congratulations and good luck!!! I cannot wait to read your book and see what you write next.

  2. So pleased for you. How exciting to be almost-published! I look forward to reading your book.