Reading Cynthia’s wonderful post on Monday, in which she tells of her three day trip to Birmingham with her editor from Peachtree, I had to think how brave Cynthia was. Being a wee bit introverted, and a wee bit prone to giggling like a big dork in unfamiliar social situations, I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to make such a journey. But Cynthia was. She put her faith and her trust in the process, and set out, and what an amazing experience she had as a result.
Trust your pen and your characters to guide you through the story
Trust your voice and your creative vision
Trust your critique partners to be honest in their comments to improve your work
Trust your agent to circulate your manuscript to the right houses
Trust an editor to love your story and improve it
Trust a copyeditor to know more about commas than you do
Trust librarians, teachers, and booksellers to get your book into the right hands
Trust yourself to start the process all over again.
Whew. A lot of that isn’t easy, believe me. Fortunately, however, the universe likes to give us writers little signs when, entirely trusting to the unknowns of the process, we do the right thing. Ask any writer and they can tell you of at least one serendipitous occurrence surrounding their writing. Like, for example, when I named a character who interviewed a real historical figure named Tom Lee. Later I discovered that the interview of Tom Lee at the Colorado State Historical Society Museum, was conducted by a man of the SAME NAME I gave my character! And it wasn’t a common name, either. Weird? Maybe, but if you write you are used to these little messages from the universe, reinforcing your faith and trust.
For me, I have never met my editor. And unlike Cynthia, I did not have multiple houses simultaneously interested in my novel, so I did not get to choose the editor that would be the best match for me. I just had to trust that my agent had sent it to her knowing she’d be a good match for me. Blindly, I signed the contract, hoping that she loved my manuscript enough to do right by it. No sooner than I did, the signs started.
It was late September when the folks at McElddery met and decided to acquire my novel. I was told that an offer would be made, but it would be delayed because my editor was going out of town for several weeks on vacation. Turns out the vacation brought her to Colorado, where I live. She visited old mining communities and on a whim, the National Mining Hall of Fame in Leadville, Colorado. My book is about miners in Colorado. Hmmm. Maybe a coincidence? Maybe my book inspired her vacation? I prefer to think of it as serendipity.
In early December, we had a conversation on the phone to discuss a first revision, in which she told me of her visit to the museum, and her concerns that the museum displays were out of date and poorly maintained. As it happens, I am involved with the museum community in my day job, and a few days later a job posting crossed my desk, for someone to renovate and improve the very exhibits we’d been discussing. Another coincidence? Or is it just possible that our conversation gave rise to enough good museum karma to get those exhibits spruced up? I kind of regret now that we didn’t discuss world peace.
From her editorial comments and questions, I have learned so many interests we have in common, even bits of knowledge I built into my story that are things that impacted her Polish grandparents. Most recently she emailed to tell me the manuscript is headed off to copyedits. In the conversation I learned from her that she finds the rules regarding commas “particularly gruesome.”
That was the moment I truly fell in love with this woman. I might have even swooned. In fact, we may be the very same person–except she’s got a really cool Eastern European name, and I just write about people with cool Eastern European names.
So I’ve never met my editor, but I trust her completely, and the universe backs me up on this. And I think the whole trust thing goes both ways in this business. So let me just say:
Thank you Erin Murphy for trusting me enough to represent me.
Thank you Karen Wojtyla and McElderry for trusting my book enough to see it to print.
And thank you, universe, for the magical coincidences that assure me my trust is not misplaced.