This has been on my mind lately, so I’m blogging about my lack of sanity rather than writing any short fiction. Hope you, my dear reader, can cope with that. I’m not really OCD, although I do have enough OCD tendencies from my anxiety and PTSD that I can leave lots of checkmarks on any OCD checklist. So, I suppose this title is a bit deceiving, especially if your only notion of OCD is repetitive hand washing and such things.
If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you know that I periodically make mention of the novel I wrote. Yep, I’m one of those wacky folks who not only had a gazillion documents in various stages of completion on her hard drive, but I even finished one. Thank you, btw, for not asking me how it’s been going with the “get that thing published” process. Because there’s so much more to getting a book published than most folks ever know.
So far, I’m most interested in pursuing traditional publishing. What that means is getting an agent who will then submit my revised manuscript to industry editors most likely to be interested in my novel.
Along the way, I’ve had some great, as well as conflicting, feedback from a variety of sources about my novel and so I’m faced with a decision. Do I give my novel another revision or just keep querying in hopes that some time before I die I find an agent who loves my novel enough to represent it?
And most of my published writer friends have given me the same advice: Keep writing. Write something new. Start a new project. These are rock-solid gems of advice.
Except for one little thing about my pesky brain. I can’t let go of my novel. All these new book ideas and their files on my hard drive are just sitting there, languishing. Because the thing that I can’t let go of is “what did I do wrong with The Blue Dress?” What do I need to do to fix it so that I don’t make those same mistakes on a new project? Because one thing my personal version of crazy has going for it is the absolute fear of making the same mistake over and over.
I do know that the truth is, maybe I didn’t do anything wrong in my novel. Literature is so subjective, that perhaps I just haven’t shown it to the right person. Maybe, just maybe, there is someone out there right now who could love it so much as it is written that they would fight for it. Or maybe it needs more fixing before it can be loved that much.
It is the unknown that is really hard for me.
Sure this is the book writing business, but at this moment, it is far too much like worrying about whether I’ve left the iron plugged in, or turned off the sprinkler, or set the alarm. Those worries, those what-ifs eat away at me so much that I can’t focus on anything else. And so here I sit, stuck.
I have been writing, and I have tried, really tried, to stop worrying about The Blue Dress. But when obsessing about things is how you function even on a good day, being in this place as an unpublished novelist is a very twitchy experience.
I vacillate between “just keep querying the dang thing” and “trunk it” (consider it a failed book and put it away permanently). Some days, just thinking about my novel makes me cry. Other days I believe in it enough to keep trying to get it traditionally published.
Today I’m thinking about making a blanket fort and hiding under there with a jar of Nutella and a spoon. The only thing keeping me from getting out the blankets is the knowledge that all that darkness will just get me thinking about my characters and their lives and wondering if I really did them justice in telling their stories.
So I put back the blankets in the cupboard and put the spoon back in the drawer. And I open my manuscript and try to find what it is that I did right and where I went wrong and try to see if I can make it something that someone else can love enough to fight for it. Because I just can’t let it go.