Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Languishing in Limbo

A few days ago I sent my manuscript to my agent. She asked for two forms of submission – one as hard copy sent through the regular mail, the other as an email attachment she can read on her smart phone.

She is going to read my book on her phone! I am startled. I am bewildered. I am chagrined. My grand great ideas – my wonderful words and wisdom – reduced to a tiny screen where they can be whooshed away by the touch of a fingertip.

Back when I was a literary agent such a thing was not possible. Manuscripts arrived embraced in padded coverings or wrapped and taped like gifts at holiday time. They were sent with care and high hopes by their creators and I did my best to receive them in a similar spirit.

How long ago that was. And I will try to make this the last time I lament its passing. Because guess what. That was then and this is now. Besides – electronic delivery systems not withstanding – the essence of the process remains the same.

We send out our work by the click of a key and then we wait. We follow the cyber submission with another surrendered to a mail service and then we wait. We wait in a limbo of very little control.

The purpose of the second submission – for my agent and many others – is to give her pages to make notes on. Notes is a more palatable word for corrections. Which means she will find things wrong – things that require more effort on my part – things I will have to change.

Which further means that this huge chunk of work I was so relieved to finish will come flying back at me eventually with expectations jotted all over it. Another chunk of work to do.

Then maybe, maybe, maybe it will pass muster at last and be emailed as an attachment to an editor or by Fed Ex to her cluttered desk for yet another round of the same.

This is the system and the writer’s lot is to submit or self publish. Then – having submitted – to let go and move on to yet another chunk of work that will one day be released into its own limbo while we wait – wait – wait.