It’s done. Salt Magic, Skin Magic – my m/m fantasy romance set in Yorkshire in 1851 – is finished and I’ve submitted it to a publisher.
I’ve submitted short stories in the past, but this feels different. My thoughts are skittering around like playful kittens. My gut is knotted and my legs are shaky.
Because it doesn’t feel as if I’ve merely sent out a piece of work to be accepted or rejected (though that’s bad enough).
When you write a novel, you live with it for a long time. You live with the characters and most of them you like. They invade your daily life. Everything you experience loops back to them – a mannerism in a friend is shared by one of your characters, a history book mentions a detail about a character’s dress that you need to fix. You learn that a word you put in a character’s mouth wasn’t coined until three decades later so you must substitute it.
A plot hole yaws wide in the middle of a work meeting. Days later, in a different meeting, the solution leaps out and slaps you in the face. What? Sorry, no, I wasn’t volunteering to take minutes. Just *ahem* a bit of a cough.
But in the end, the story was as good as I could make it. The characters are so real – to me, anyway – that I can see and hear them. Hell, I can smell them. I know their political views and their favorite artists. I know how they like their eggs in the morning and what they keep in their pockets (and with my magician, that’s a lot to keep tabs on). I know their hopes, dreams, foibles and strengths.
I also edited that sucker without mercy.
Now I wait for three or four months.
Now there’s balancing act to maintain.
I’m trying to feel confident. I truly believe it’s a damn good story. I wouldn’t have submitted it if I didn’t. I think it’s exciting and original and sexy and funny and romantic and moving. If someone else had written it, I’d devour it in one sitting.
At the same time, I know my story just joined the slush pile (see below). I’m not an established author. I will never know what other similar manuscripts the publisher might get. Maybe they don’t want another historical fantasy at all. Or they’re over Victorian period pieces, or sick of romances with an aristocrat in one of the leading roles. Or any one of a hundred other reasons.
But you have to start somewhere, right? And now I’ve really started.
So I’ll be working on my next book. And I will occasionally be checking my list of other possible publishers. Just to be ready.
But, for tonight, let the red wine flow. Let washing be forgotten and bedtimes grow later. Let us eat crisps and florentines for dinner. I’ve reached a milestone and that’s worth a pat on the back.
Will I be celebrating in a few months’ time, or sucking up the rejection and submitting to another publisher? Follow my blog to find out…
And if you’re out there wondering if you’ll ever finish and submit that novel – keep at it!