Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Never Can Say Goodbye, Book

How do you break up with your book?

As in:  How do you finish that puppy, sit on your hands, and shove it out into the big, bad world?

I've just sent my second book to the publisher for the last time before publication.  And I'm about to finish my final polish on a contemporary romantic comedy to submit to a brand new pub.

I'm having to break up with two of my best friends at the same time.  And they're perfect!  But they can't be, right?  Nothing is perfect.  Is there a typo?  A name screw up that we all missed?  A dangling plot point?  A flaccid joke?  (A flaccid hero?)  A plotzing participle?  GAH!

I've read RAGNAR AND JULIET 2: CONCUBINE BOOGALOO (and I'm guessing here) four thousand and seventy-eight times. Approximately.  Could be more.  Several beta readers have read and critiqued it.  An editor has been through it several times.  So has a copyeditor.  My cat yakked on it once, so even her input has been received.  My husband didn't yak.

Intellectually (yes, I have intellect -- why do you ask?) I know that I've done all I can do.  I know there's a mistake in there.  Ther alomst alwyas is, yu kno?  Humans are flawed people who invented stirrup pants -- we can't always get it right, not matter how freaking hard the committee tries.  So I take a deep breath, or fifteen, and hit "send," praying that the thing I missed ain't a Titanic-sized disaster.

For my contemporary, I've gone through my long, arduous edit process, let the beta readers have a go, as well as the cat (butt-licking was her only note this time).  My final process is to print the MS and read it start to finish out loud.  (FYI, there is no better way to catch small and large errors than by doing this -- trust.  It takes a long time, but it's worth it.)  Once I'm done, I'll marry it to its query letter and hit send.  Oh, wait -- not just hit "send."  I take deep breaths, say a prayer to my deity of choice, grab my stuffed duck, and do the quack dance* in front of the laptop while I click "send."  Yes, this is my process.  It's not the most dignified, I imagine, but I abandoned dignity when I took up the pen.  I settle for "the misunderstood nobility of weirdness" now. Quack.

* If you would like to prefect the quack dance (don't ask the origin -- it's better if you don't know), it requires a lot of quacking, a stuffed animal, flapping of arms, as well as a certain musical styling.  If you're new to it, try Barry Manilow.

After it's all done, I try super hard to not think about it -- to bury myself in the next project.  It totally works, too.  I never think about the publisher reading my stuff, or worry if they hate it, or speculate that I'll die, sad and lonely, clutching my backlist check of $.01 and Googling myself only to find a Wikipedia article under my name reading "Lucy Woodhull was a crackpot of no importance.  Invented the quack dance, noted only for being childish and an insult to ducks."  Nope, I never worry that I accidentally pasted BUTTS BUTTS BUTTS BUTTS in the middle of Juliet's most very super emotional scene with Ragnar, which really only has a little to do with butts.  NO WORRYING HERE.  THIS IS A WORRY-FREE ZONE.  NO, I'M NOT CRYING, YOU'RE CRYING.

Writers, how do you let it go?  Do you ever?  Do you quack dance (or similar)?  How do you type "the end" to one and then move on?  I mean, without booze.