Saturday, July 31, 2010

That Period of Peace Following a Deadline

It's a sunny afternoon in Annapolis. I've spent the day trimming back trees in my mom's backyard, and cutting away new growth from the hedges in front of my house. I just finished having a few slices of Domino's pizza (and maybe a few chicken wings). Iron Chef is on the television, and I've got a novel (Dark Creed) I'm flipping through while my wife reads through the foodie issue of What's Up, Annapolis. The Corgi is outside flinging her rubber red frisbee around the yard. She looks like she's having a blast.

For the first time in months I'm at peace, because for the first time in months I don't have a submission deadline hanging over my head. I sent off my novel package (three chapters, a 1,000 word synopsis, and a complete breakdown by chapters) to Black Library on Thursday night, and it'll be weeks before I can expect to hear anything back. I don't have anything else I'm particularly desperate to work on, and I just got my copy of Starcraft II (which is living up to the hype quite well), so I'm considering this a free weekend.

And then the doubts start creeping in: "I kind of rushed the query letter; could I have done better?" "Was it really necessary to mention that I've been published by these guys before?" "Should I have explained that the book could kick off a trilogy, if they're interested?" "Why the hell did I throw that twist in at the end of the synopsis? They're going to kick it back for sure!"

I look at the book I'm reading, and I see some dead brilliant descriptions of Imperial Guardsmen meeting a Space Marine for the first time. "Why couldn't I have read that even a week ago?" I say to myself, groaning in pain. If I'd seen this level of prose even a day before the deadline, I could have made my sample better. Fat lot of good it does me now.

The dog's curled up under my feet, having worn herself out in the yard. My wife's chatting with a friend on the other side of the couch. I've got a queasy feeling in my stomach just from thinking about all the things I might have done better, and it'll be weeks before I can expect to hear anything back.

And suddenly I'm not at peace anymore. I need to get my mind off of this. Maybe I had better start working on something else...

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