I wasn’t sure what to wear the Saturday I dropped off my manuscript to the editor, Char. I met Char about 18 months earlier when I signed up for her workshop that was held at our local community center. Char reads writers’ manuscripts and gives them feedback. I thought her fees sounded reasonable, and I felt like I could trust her to keep my manuscript safe.
I wore my white pants, blue cotton blouse that resembled a handkerchief, and flip-flops as I felt it would be a casual meeting. As I drove to her office, I felt like my manuscript was like some sort of baby sitting in the green folder next to me. Of course, my manuscript was different from a human baby, but it was a baby that had been created in my mind, looked over, rearranged, loved, and thought about over and over again, off and on, for a span of about five years – a different sort of creative endeavor.
When I arrived, Char showed me the way to her office. We sat down, and she talked about what she planned to do with the manuscript. She said she would read it over and write in any suggestions paying careful attention to any grammatical or spelling errors. I asked that she please make sure I wasn’t saying the same thing over and over again. After reading my manuscript over several times, I was starting to get lost on how things went. She spoke about some of her other clients and her experiences with them so I would know how the process worked. I wondered how long it would take for Char to edit my 148-page, double-spaced manuscript, and she said it would take about a week, but she hoped she would be able to get back to me the coming Friday.
“You won’t leave this sitting somewhere, will you?” I asked pointing to the green folder as I was on my way out the door. That had been my biggest fear about sharing my manuscript – that it would be left unattended somewhere. Babies always need to be supervised.
“No, I will only have it here in my office, and I will take it home with me in this bag. I live across the street.” Only a very paranoid person would think that something could happen a short distance between Char’s home and office. Hearing that she lived just across the street was a relief to me. Secretly, I hoped the zipper on her briefcase was in good working order and that no large windstorms would sweep both of them away somewhere into oblivion.
As the weekend wore on, I felt like Char had read a little bit of my story here and there. I wondered which page she was on. What was going on? Was she toward the middle, where I thought it slowed down a bit? I hoped the story was keeping her awake and ready to turn the next page. I felt like she truly was a babysitter watching over my creation.
When Monday rolled around, I looked at my emails, that I was checking about every five minutes, and saw a message from Char that said, “I have just one thing to say … I LOVE the manuscript.” Then I wondered if she read the entire manuscript already, but I realized she must not have because she would have told me. I replied by saying, “Oh my gosh, thank you! I’ve been thinking about you and am glad to hear the positive feedback! Thanks for checking in. I’ll be patiently waiting to hear as to when you’re ready to hand it back to me. Thanks again.” I thought I really kept my cool because what I really wanted to say was, “I’ve been thinking about you and MY BABY. What page are you on? What’s going on in the story right now? Is there one thing that you particularly like? Do you really, really LOVE it?”
On Thursday, I heard from Char again. She told me she was ready to go over the manuscript with me. The next time she could meet was Father’s Day. Would I have time to get together then? Of course I would, I responded. Even if I had to walk all the way over to her office, which was about 10 miles away, I would be able to meet with her. In the back of my mind, I thought it was a funny coincidence that I was meeting with her on Father’s Day when the story I wrote is based on my family’s experiences during my father’s illness. I hoped that coincidence was a thumb’s up sign from the powers that be.
After I (thankfully) drove to Char’s office on Father’s Day, Char reminded me about one of the things we talked about in her workshop – about how every writer has some sort of “thing” that they need to work on. She told me my biggest issue, and I couldn’t agree more, but I’m not going to tell YOU what it is! Char did a good job of finding those types of errors and helped clean up some of my sentences to help my story make more sense. During our meeting, she gave me a list of traditional Christian publishers to send proposals to. I told her how I was worried about sharing my story because it’s very personal. As I was leaving the office, she encouraged me to try to get my story published because she thought it would help a lot of people who were going through similar situations.
Since that time I realized that my story is inspirational, and I’ve sent out a proposal. If I don’t hear soon, I have a list of other places to send my baby. I’ll keep trying to get my manuscript turned into a book. I’d like to use a traditional publisher or an agent, but if that doesn’t work, I will look into self-publishing.
In the meantime, another story is forming in my mind and right now is five pages long. I’m setting goals of how many words to write per day and when. Then I’ll look this new creation over, rearrange, love, think about it, and listen for thoughts to include over and over again. Hopefully, I’ll be able to let it go, just like I hope I’ll be able to let the first one go out into the world all by itself.
If I hear good news about the first manuscript, I’ll be sure to let you know. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!