I'm starting to wish I hadn't made this deadline public. Had to really though didn't I? It helps to know there is a literary mob waiting to beat me up verbally if I don't stick to the plan :)
Am I going to make it? Of course. I'll make the deadline because I always do. Never quite sure how it happens but it does. The question is: will I make it?
A number of publishers have been jolly nice to me of late and that's surely no bad thing but it's not necessarily more than a pleasant thing either. If my work isn't up to standard then no amount of friendly chat will save it from the bin.
Is it? My work, I mean, Is it good enough?
So far I've jumped through the following hoops:
1/ Learnt English
2/ Had car accident, fallen into coma, emerged from coma unable to speak
3/ Learnt English again
4/ Got Degree in English
5/ Did lots of research about publishing and novel writing
6/ Written novel
6/ Written sequel
7/ Set up online presence
8/ Built up following of writers, readers, publishers, agents, editors and other media people and a couple of celebrities
9/ Got feedback on my writing from best selling authors
10/ Edited both books. Re-edited first book.
11/ Got agent.
Ha! Fooled you! Didn't get to point 11 yet. This is the bit I'm scared about. The rest of it was in my control but the next bit is not. It's a big, black hole of potential disappointment.
Over the last year, I've taken to reading a few novels by authors doing very well in the 'contemporary commercial women's fiction' category - which is where I think my two books would fall. Some of their work has been great but on more than one occasion I've stared at a page for many minutes, unable to go on, thinking:
'What? That's not right! How on earth did they manage to get THAT published?'
There is one book in particular that sold incontinently well and I could not get past the first chapter for months because of one horrible sentence. It was just ghastly. I'd love to quote it in all its ghastliness as I'm sure you'd agree but it wouldn't be fair to the author so I won't. The thing is that I know this author would have no problem churning out this substandard level of text for huge sums of money for the rest of their life. Maybe their own sense of pride in their work will cause them to improve but even if that doesn't happen, publishers will be happy to continue publishing them.
That isn't something I'd want. I want to be REALLY good. My dream is to find an agent and publisher that take me on because they believe in my work but they won't let me submit anything sub-standard. Even when it becomes really sale-able I wouldn't want someone 'blowing smoke up my ass' as I think you say in America. I desperately want to find a group of people I can work with to get the best possible work published as commercially as possible. Will it happen though? Have I done enough to help it to happen?
The last few years have been intolerably hard for many reasons and it has been a real work of determination to get these books written. There have been times when we've gone without food or without warmth so that we could afford the electricity for me to get words on a screen or the ink to get words on paper. My husband has put as much into these books as I have. Maybe that's why I'm freaking out a bit at the moment. If I don't get published, I'm not the only person I am letting down.
Part of me thinks that I have done as much as I possibly can to give my work the best chance of success but another part of me wonders if that could ever be the case. Is there something I missed? What else needs to happen before Monday to help my words onto the bookshelves at Waterstones?