Posted by Jonene Ficklin
This week, I called a good friend of mine who is a wonderful writer. She answered the phone, screaming bloody murder.
Several thoughts shot through my mind:
Her house is on fire.
Her house is flooding.
Someone is dying.
Instead, she told me she’d just barely received her first full-manuscript request from a great literary agent.
It was time to celebrate! I asked her to e-mail over the request, because this is writer’s gold. She did. I read and reread it, smiling, imagining my friend doing the same.
Then I read the first ten pages she submitted. I had been through them several times before as her book morphed from beginning to now. She’s been working very hard not only on the story, but on refining her craft. This piece was polished, catchy, funny, hinting at romance and many dark adventures to come. I am a bit biased because I know her, but this was impressive. It was dang good! The best part is I’ve read the rest of the book. She’s ready in every way to submit.
What is most impressive is that she actually did. And someone else recognized her talent.
This summer, at several writer’s conferences and workshops, the panels of agents, editors and publishers all said the same thing. At each convention, they request anywhere from twenty to forty manuscripts. Usually they get two to three.
Why is that? Are we scared that someone will see through us and find out we’re actually frauds pretending to be writers? Are we in the middle of our fourteenth revision and realizing that our story needs at least five or ten more before it’s ready? Are we sure that that particular agent, editor, or publisher will turn us down?
I guess there comes a time when we should just submit. We must.
Yes, the work should be polished. No, we shouldn’t send in our first draft. But if so many of us aren’t submitting, that’s not a good thing. The world needs to meet the literary geniuses hiding behind word processors and mounds of old manuscripts.
So, to my friend, thanks for being brave! You’ve given me a much needed boost. And yes, my ear drums are fine now. And I’m hoping to return the honor.