Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Morning Panic

My panic this morning is a carryover from last night and is entirely self-induced. 

I recently finished a novel.  I read the last three chapters at my writing class over the last two weeks and feel very happy with the ending.  It's all about the ending, right?  I'm confident about beginnings, but endings are harder for me.  I really like this one. 

It's time.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Time to think about trying to get it published.  I need to remember Yoda's wise words:  "Do or do not.  There is no try."  This is advice I would give to anyone about anything they want for themselves, but is a really tough one for me only for this one thing:  getting published.  Yoda would hit me on the head with his cane if he heard me say, "time to think about trying."  That's not even trying and is definitely not doing. 

Baby steps, Yoda, I need to take baby steps.

I have taken some small steps.  I lined up two people I trust to be readers - to read it all the way through.  I started reformatting the text and doing yet another round of very detailed edits.  I am thinking about what I would say in a query letter.  I purchased a market guide that has sent me into the full panic I have been experiencing since it arrived in the mail.  I marked with colored flags publishers that might fit my style while I was icing my foot and was unable to run from it. 

My husband apologized for butting in, but couldn't stop himself from going to the websites of the flagged publishers to get the detailed information.  I hugged him.  He offered to do all the research for me if I just tell him what information to look for.  Thank you God for sending him to me. 

We found two publishers right away that seemed to be potentially OK.  However, one of the publishers stated on their website that they only accept novels with a minimum of 50,000 words.  Apparently a novel that is less than 50,000 words is not a novel at all - it is a novella. 

I am a writer of novellas. 

This sort of fits me.  I am exceptionally short and petite.  And impatient.  I like short novels.  I prefer The Hobbit over any of the Lord of the Rings books - only because I can finish The Hobbit and have zero chance with the longer ones. 

I write for adult women (not to exclude men, but the perspective is definitely that of a woman).  What woman has time to read 100,000 words?  If you do, I am completely in awe of you.  At this point in my life, it would take me forever.  I have a huge list of half-read books. 

I cannot add another word to my novella without ruining it.  In fact, I need to remove just a few.  No where in the publishing guide does it mention publishing a novella.  It has information on novels and on short stories.  Nothing in the middle except a definition:  a novella is a long short story or a short novel between 20,000 and 50,000 words.  My stories are 42,000 words.  I feel inadequate, like I can neither write a short story nor a novel, which is ridiculous.  I love novellas - Call of the Wild, Of Mice and Men, Old Man and the Sea

Novellas I write.  (Yoda, please stop konking me on the head now.)

I told my husband I need to set all this business aside and just write.  I am in the middle of a chapter of a new story.  I should have finished the chapter instead of stressing myself out.  He said with great kindness, "You don't need to worry about this at all."  I agreed and set a deadline of July 31, the end of the summer term of writing class.  I told him I will have my edits done, first draft of the new novella written (no way is it going to be longer than the last), and ten publishers selected by July 31. 

He looked at me like I was a little crazy.  He told me I didn't need to set a date at all.  I should just set it aside.

I know myself better than that.  Without a set deadline to hold myself to, it will never happen.  Not a chance.  So July 31 it is, which is very doable for me and is far enough away to allow myself to breathe today.


  1. Congratulations on finishing your book! Good luck with the editing/rewriting--sometimes I find the editing process more exhausting than the writing process, but it gets easier with every novel. Practice makes better, right? I'm so glad you have a couple of people you trust to read your manuscript--I think having people you can depend on to pick apart your novel is one of the most important and invaluable things you can possibly have as a writer. My books would not be at all what they are if not for the advice and input of my betas all along the way.

    I know (goodness, I know) how easy it is to feel overwhelmed by the querying, publishers, summaries, sorting through which publisher wants what, etc. O_O I've been through it and I still find that I can get overwhelmed if I stop and start thinking about everything I have to do. My best advice would be to just take everything a step at a time and when feeling completely overwhelmed, take a step back and work on something else for a day or two. Read a book, write a chapter of another story, watch a movie...something to just give yourself a breather.

    And don't feel inadequate because you write novellas. Stories should be as long as they need to be. Sometimes this means they're very short, and sometimes this means they're very long. Sometimes it depends on the genre, how much world-building (if any) there is, and a ton of other factors.

    I wish you all the best on your writing journey!

  2. Congratulations! I am in awe of a woman who can write 50,000 words with a beginning and an ending. Your hubby sounds like a gem.

  3. Thanks for your kind words.

    @Stephanie. I actually only wrote 42,000 words. Hubby is sweet when we aren't driving each other nuts. :)

  4. @Laura - thanks for taking the time to comment. You give very good advice. I love writing and get lost in it, but this part of it is very overwhelming. My husband compared it to applying for jobs except that you already did all the work up front. :)

  5. Mary Hood has a great story collection, "And Venus is Blue." It's made up of 20-25pg short stories and concludes with a gorgeous novella. Who's to say you won't have a two or three of your novellas published together :) Also, with e-publishing, I feel like the rules have changed.

    Congrats again on finishing your book! On days when I don't write (like today) I agonize over how much more I have to do! On days when I *do* get to write, I rejoice how much more I get to write :)

  6. @August - Thanks for your encouragement. :) I am editing today instead of writing, and it's overwhelming. I actually thought I could edit the whole thing.... right now I think two chapters is enough. I wish I had decided to write something new this morning instead.