What has been interesting in all this for me is the revelation that I don't actually know how books are laid out. Yeah I've read them before, obviously, at least five or so. But to actually sit down in front of my sprawling Word.doc and try to figure out how chapters work was something that took me a surprising amount of time to plunk through. Also I don't understand title pages, but we'll burn that bridge when we get to it. I've come to expect this journey to be a matryoshka doll of things I didn't know I didn't know, but it's still pretty jarring all the same.
|They know where your organs live.....|
At this point in the process I'm actually only 92% sure I know how dialogue is supposed to be spaced, but who can really tell? An editor, that's who could tell. But on that point I am yet again at a stand-still. Every milestone I haltingly manage to achieve tends to be followed by a giant gouge dug in the metaphorical field of progress, and like a displaced hobbit among hostile climes I have to tumble-climb my way down the jagged precipices until I get to the next plateau and repeat steps A through Just-Kill-Me-Please. Am I being melodramatic? Maybe. But my life is more boring than I can possibly explain and I get my kicks through hyperbole. Sue me. (Please don't, I have none of the monies. These are not the monies you're looking for.)
Finding an editor may not be the serendipitous exercise I had sort of hoped it would be. One day on my way home from my dull-as-dust captioning job I stopped in at the old diner where I used to work because as much as I may have disliked that job passionately I adored my supervisor and occasionally like to catch up. On this particular afternoon my old supervisor was busy managing customers and dealing with the cash register so I started reading a discarded newspaper from earlier that day, when I chanced upon an article about a local small-time publisher in town who helps with writing classes, classes on getting published, support for self-publishing authors, and editing jobs. I thought to myself, "And lo, did the light of epiphany shine down upon this shitty diner newspaper, and it was good." I thought my question had been answered before I even had a chance to ask it. I thought, surely, this was too perfect to not be meant for me. A sign from the universe, or God, or the ghost of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whatever, that this venture of mine was meant to be and I would eventually succeed.
Oh how naive I had been only months earlier. I wrote the publisher/editor's contact info down because it seemed like the thing to do, and once I was done with the first rounds of revision I foolishly thought that now was the time to strike, now was the time to reach out and make contact with an actual, bona fide professional and get some hard-nosed advice. I sent a message, explaining myself and beseeching some preliminary contact (wary, as I had read off her website that official consultations cost over $200.) I got a message back from her, oh happy day! Asking for more information about my story, what sort it was, what I was hoping to do with it. Flush with the first moment of ease and true triumph since I sat down two Novembers ago and decided to churn out this obnoxious opus, I fired off my response and sat back to wait, confident that soon I would be granted a pass into the exclusive club of People-who-have-any-damn-idea-what-they-are-doing.
And I waited. And waited. And waited. Close to three weeks went by and after whining about the sudden lapse in dialogue with a stranger who had taken an inexplicable interest in my life story, was told to message this editor again, and not to stop until I heard back. "Show her you mean business, that you really want it!" the stranger told me, only to meander off and never speak to me again. So I went home, hopped on the ol'computer lap device and did just that; as politely yet firmly as I could I asked for a reply, asked that this editor pay attention to my plight because I could really use some help right about now. And what do you know, it worked! A few days later I had a new message from her and I was once more filled with a sense of rightness, that this was my path, that this person was destined to render me succor and wisdom.
Then I read the message. The message that was word for word verbatim to the first message she had sent me. And I realized that she had not read my desperate plea, or the explanation of my story (since she was asking about it again as though we hadn't already covered this); that she likely hadn't even read my very first attempt at an overture because this was obviously a pat-response, the sort of "Select Message All" you pull on Facebook when 82 people you hardly know wish you a happy birthday. Disheartening doesn't even come close. So I'm back at square one with finding an editor, which I suppose is just as well given my current position of rewriting my story a second time. I don't know when is the appropriate time to try for an editor again. Maybe after these revisions? Maybe after the third? Hell if I know. Logic tells me I should wait until the book is as close to perfect for me as I can get it before I hand it over to an objective third party, but then there's also the niggling thought that maybe I should leave myself some wiggle room so it isn't totally devastating when the editor tells me to scrap everything and start over at the beginning. At least there will be fewer tears and bloodshed in the manuscript for me to heartlessly cast aside, and I won't feel like this was a conclusion I could have come to without all the agony of editing this beast infinity times on my own. Knowing me I'll end up putting in exponentially more effort than was needed, because I can't seem to do anything the easy way and my life enjoys being a pointless uphill scale when there's been a lovely paved path right the hell next to me the entire time. Whichever way it turns out, I'll end up feeling like a moron before all is said and done. But hey! At least it'll be done.
Then I can get back to my other book that I've been working on for even longer. Ha ha! Being an author is so rewarding!